THE three-day Techfest Live featuring Road-to-WCIT 2022 has given golden opportunities to Penang and Malaysia to be connected to the rest of the world and also be a gateway to Southeast Asia, says Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow.
He also said the event provided local start-ups and technology companies great exposure globally.
Although it was supposed to be a hybrid event, Chow said it had to be done totally virtual as the physical aspect was not possible with the reimposition of the conditional movement control order (CMCO) to curb the spread of Covid-19.
Chow, however, said when the WCIT 2022 (World Congress Information Technology 2022) is hosted in Penang, the event would be held physically as well as virtually to reach a bigger audience.
Malaysia last hosted WCIT in Kuala Lumpur in 2008.
“The exposure given to our start-ups and technology companies here is invaluable. Not only were they given a platform to speak, some new companies were also able to showcase and share their solutions.
“For example, DABAO, a service from Xilnex to help micro F&B businesses to market to more customers, as well as Silkron Technology that specialises in smart and touch screen vending machines – both are Penang’s pride.
“Also 76 merchants from Penang were given the opportunity to push their marketing promos on Astro and online to ensure maximum exposure.
“Out of the 51 certified smart cities participants for Asean smart cities modules, by the future city academy, 60% were Malaysians,” Chow said when interviewed by Astro TV hosts Nazruddin Rahman and Sarah Lian at Wisma Yeap Chor Ee at the closing ceremony of the event today.
Chow was also pleased that a total of 3,800 users logged on to the various platforms over the three days, likening the WCIT as the Olympics for the ICT world.
“If it had been a physical event, we expected 3,000 to 4,000 participants from all over the world to come to Penang, especially World Information Technology Services Alliance (Witsa) members from over 80 countries.
“WCIT is a very prestigious event. So, we have almost the same number of people who took part in the event virtually.
“Over three days, we had three streams of conversations on various topics. There were 250 speakers and panellists with a total of 71,000 pageviews. There were also 129 virtual booths during the event,” said Chow, adding that RM1.5 million had been spent for the event.
WCIT 2020, which was originally slated to be held in Penang in September this year by host Pikom, the National Tech Association of Malaysia, had to be postponed due to MCO.
Pikom then wanted to host it in 2021 but Witsa had already given Bangladesh the right to host it next year in conjunction with their 50th year anniversary celebrations. The Penang government has committed RM3 million in cash and kind to support WCIT 2020.
“I wish Bangladesh all the best; we hope to see you in Bangladesh in 2021.
“Actually, it is a blessing in disguise. Instead of a one off event this year, it is now run over three years. We don’t call the event WCIT 2020 because it had been postponed but we call it Road-to-WCIT 2022.
“Without any doubt, I think technology plays a very important role in the transformation of a physical event into a virtual event. Without the support of the technology platforms, we won’t be able to connect to the rest of the world.
“Although there may be some hiccups in infrastructure capability, I think this can be rectified. It is marvellous and amazing that despite the lockdown and control, we still can reach out to the rest of the world.
“I think the future is all about digital transformation and digital retransformation. It is a stimulus and catalyst for economic growth in the country and region,” Chow said.
Pikom adviser CS Chin, who was also present, thanked the Penang Island City Council mayor Datuk Yew Tung Seang, InvestPenang and the state government for supporting the event.
“We’ll do another event to focus more on local heroes, start-up programmes and local technology providers. We’ll also have our own Pikom Digital Summit where we are going to bring in physical events next year. We will do it as a hybrid.
“This year we cannot show the 5G technology but by next year we should be able to do that. That I can count on the support of Penang all the way,” said Chin, who is also the WCIT 2022 and Techfest Penang 2020 organising chairman.
Also present at the event were Yew, InvestPenang chief executive officer Datuk Loo Lee Lian and WCIT2020 Sdn Bhd chief executive officer Low Ngai Yuen.
Story by K.H. Ong
Pix by Alvie Cheng
Video by Chan Kok Kuan