Understanding Social Innovation & its Importance in ASEAN
Social Innovation is key to improving the lives of people in ASEAN. This is the core belief running through Hitachi Asia, as we speak to Kosuke Horiuchi, Former Managing Director (from April 2017- Mar 2020) of Hitachi Asia Ltd. While he highlights the potential of Southeast Asia, Horiuchi also points out 3 key obstacles that faces the region right now. He further explains how Hitachi technology is playing a key role in the various ASEAN countries and helping to raise the standard of living for the people in the region.
|Interviewer||We hear a lot about Social Innovation Business. What does Social Innovation mean to Hitachi?|
|Horiuchi||Social Innovation is an idea, that we, at Hitachi, ask all the time, “How can we apply technological solutions to make enhancements to or to solve society’s problems?” From Hitachi’s perspective, our Social Innovation Business is achieved through the combination of our strength and experience in OT and IT. We provide solutions to solve challenges that modern societies face and make life better for the people in ASEAN.
ASEAN is a vast and varied region with diverse economic development. Some countries are in the early stages of urbanization while some countries are transiting to a more advanced stage. As a result, the needs of each country differ. Some need help with providing access to daily necessities, such as water and electricity. Others may need help with their traffic congestion problems. Hitachi has the ability to help with all these social issues.
|Interviewer||So why is Social Innovation important for Southeast Asia?|
|Horiuchi||There is tremendous growth potential in Southeast Asia, a region where 640 million people stand to benefit. ASEAN is projected to become the world’s 4th largest economy by 2050. The number of middle-class households are expected to double by 2025. With Hitachi’s Social Innovation, we believe we can contribute much to helping ASEAN achieve its full potential.|
|Interviewer||What would you say are some of the key obstacles the region faces now?|
|Horiuchi|| I would say that 3 come to mind – access to electricity, improved public transport and internet penetration.
65 million people in the region do not have access to electricity. Much needs to be done to help countries like Myanmar, with electricity access rates of around 60%.
As more and more people move to the big cities for work, the number of vehicles on the road increase and public transport is also very crowded. Traffic congestions can cost the economy up to hundreds of millions of dollars a year.
Southeast Asia has a low internet penetration rate of 58%, compared to North America, who has 88%. Being connected to the internet is crucial for the economic development in ASEAN.
|Interviewer||Can you share some examples of how Hitachi has contributed to the Social Innovation Business in ASEAN?|
|Horiuchi||Let me highlight some key projects:
#1: Hitachi is building subways in Bangkok and Ho Chi Minh City to relieve congestion and strengthen their public transportation systems;
#2: We are partnering Vietnam Post to roll out an Electronic Payments system, which will serve as a base for a nation-wide cashless infrastructure in the future;
#3: We are supplying 5,400 distribution transformers to Myanmar to meet its growing energy needs;
#4: Hitachi, in partnership with Sky Energy, has become the largest solar panel producer in Indonesia, helping the country to realize a renewable energy target of 23% by 2025;
#5: In last September 2018, we set up the Lumada Center in Thailand, which offers IoT solutions to help to promote Thailand 4.0.
On top of that, Hitachi is also involved in other Social Innovation aspects in Southeast Asia, such as healthcare, financial technology, smart cities, and many others.
I believe our experience in OT, Operational Technology and IT, Information Technology, makes a huge difference in the way we work. In the past 100 years since our foundation, Hitachi has built up a wealth of knowledge and this has helped us to serve the needs of our customers from all over the world. We believe in Social Innovation and through co-creation with our business partners, Hitachi aims to play a key role in improving the lives of the people in ASEAN.