Fostering an inclusive digital transformation in Cambodia

Dirk Willem te Velde, Ouch Chandarany , Hiev Hokkheang, Yang Monyoudom, Tim Kelsall, Alberto Lemma, Aarti Krishnan, Karishma Banga, Astrid Broden, Michelle Nourrice and Jessica Evans, July 2020.


Cambodia’s digital transformation is gathering pace but with different results and prospects across different groups in the economy. Mobile phone and social media use has grown rapidly. New apps are being developed, tested and implemented frequently. There is a budding digital start-up sector. And new sectors with new job opportunities based on digital technology are emerging.

Such positive developments are helping Cambodia advance significantly in economic and social terms. But there is another side, and that is the uneven impacts. While business and financial services have implemented more digital apps, the agriculture sector, which remains the main source of employment, is catching up more slowly through blockchain or precision agriculture. The tourism sector, a major source of forex, has untapped opportunities, and, crucially, the manufacturing sector, which is a major source of female employment and foreign exchange, will be highly vulnerable unless it embraces innovation and digitalisation more fully. Further, digitalisation within the public sector is lagging behind that in the private sector.

The Royal Government of Cambodia is preparing a long-term policy framework for the digital economy. Over the past year, ODI and CDRI have supported this process using analysis, case studies, interviews and a set of round tables including with the Governments’ digital economy task force. This study highlights the potentially significant distributional effects of digitalisation, and presents five policy suggestions to make the digital economy work for inclusive development..

Photo: Digital transformation inclusion in trade in Cambodia Chhor Sokunthea / World Bank . Licence: (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)