The Digital Landscape in Singapore

Oct 2020

  • Singapore is the established hub for ICT companies in South East Asia. Unicorns like Grab and Sea Group as well as US companies like Microsoft, Oracle, and Amazon Web Services have chosen to be based in Singapore for its world-class infrastructure, supportive business environment and its ability to attract talent.
  • In January 2020, Singapore registered 5.1 million internet users, with an internet penetration rate of 88%, 4.6 million social media users and 8.5 million mobile connections, equal to 147% of the total population.
  • Singapore is also a global data management hub connected to 15 active submarine cable systems, with a total submarine cable capacity of 114 Tbps and more than 50% of the commercial carrier and carrier neutral data center space in South East Asia. Examples of companies capitalizing on the country’s leading position in the region include Visa, whose Singapore transaction processing center serves both its regional and global networks, and LinkedIn, which set up its first international data center in Singapore to handle all its Asia Pacific traffic.
  • A key development took place in November 2019, when Singapore launched a National AI Strategy consolidating all current existing initiatives related to AI, with funding of USD 108 million over five years. The government identified five National AI Projects, chosen because of their high social and economic impacts: Intelligent Freight Planning; Seamless and Efficient Municipal Services; Chronic Disease Prediction and Management; Personalized Education through Adaptive Learning and Assessment; and Border Clearance Operations.
  • In April 2020, Singapore’s Infocomm Media Development Authority named Singtel and the Joint-Venture Consortium (JVCo) formed by StarHub and M1 as the winners of its 5G Call for Proposal. The winners will roll out 5G standalone networks from January 2021. Singapore plans to have 5G coverage for at least half of the country by the end of 2022 and nationwide coverage by the end of 2025. Crucially, in 2019 the government set aside USD 29.3 million to support 5G research and innovation, and develop the country as a 5G innovation hub.
  • With a high per capita income, the wealthy city-state is ahead on many metrics in the region. For example, average order values in Singapore’s e-Commerce sector are three to four times higher than those in the rest of the region. Ride hailing trips and food delivery orders reveal similar patterns. It is this strong spending power that makes Singapore’s internet economy, worth USD 12 billion in 2019, comparable in size to its much larger neighbors.
  • Singapore’s businesses are making a major push towards digitalization this year, prompted by the COVID-19 crisis. More than 3,500 businesses started transformation projects from January to April 2020, a 20% increase from the previous year. About 600 retailers and 10,000 food and beverage establishments have also signed up to join digital platforms such as Amazon, Lazada, Shopee and Qoo10, helped by an e-commerce booster package that was launched by the government in April 2020 to help businesses sell online.
  • In June 2020, it was announced that Singapore will spend an estimated USD 2.5 billion on ICT procurement to boost the economy and support businesses recovering from the COVID-19 outbreak, a 30% increase compared to the previous year. SMEs will be eligible to participate in 80% of these potential procurement opportunities. Expenditure will focus areas such as development of new technology tools to respond to COVID-19, development of citizen- and business-centric digital services, ICT systems on cloud, and government ICT infrastructure.

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