Technology for Change Week Asia highlights the need to close the gaps in digital inclusivity across the region


A virtual week exploring the issues affecting over 5 billion citizens in Asia – the built environment, access to education and reskilling, and food security.


HONG KONG SAR – Media OutReach – 24 March 2021 – The Economist Events hosted its inaugural Technology for Change Week Asia virtually on March 8th-12th 2021. The event brought together more than 70 cross-industry expert speakers and 1,800 delegates from both private and public sectors to discuss how technology and data-driven solutions can ensure that no adult or child is left behind in an increasingly digital world.

The virtual week kicked off with a live ministerial keynote to discuss how territories in Asia can strive to be regional and global leaders in driving connectivity and digital inclusivity. S. Iswaran, Minister of communications and information, Minister-in-charge of trade relations, Republic of Singapore shared:

“Digitalisation is a means to an end, and therefore, by digital inclusion, what we [Singapore] mean is every citizen and member of society must feel that they have a place in this digital economy and they stand to benefit. If you are an SME owner, this is not just a play for the big boys, you too can benefit and in fact digitalisation is a great democratiser of the economy, creating fantastic new opportunities to access the market.”

Echoing Minister Iswaran later in the day, Dan Neary, Vice-president, Asia-Pacific, Facebook commented: “In early stages, while many think SMEs will be disproportionately impacted by the pandemic in a negative sense due to lack of resources, what we are seeing is while catastrophic impact has been serious, the pivot to digital transformation is more pronounced among the SMEs than their global counterpart, which is inspirational.”

The second day of the event welcomed Audrey Tang, digital minister, Taiwan. Expressing her excitement for the future of Taiwan in co-creating social innovation with citizens, she shared:

“My hope is that more people will see democracy as a type of technology, a social technology that improves beyond just each person contributing through this every 4 year [the election], and can contribute at a much higher bit-rate of democracy using the day-to-day democratic participation as we have been deploying.”

The week also touched on digital education. On day three, Nadiem Makarim, Minister of education and culture, Republic of Indonesia highlighted that the limits of technology in education has never been so strongly proven than through the pandemic:

“The science and research disprove the wish that AI could solve the issues we are facing in education. The emotional and physical presence of adult as mentor within a face-to-face interaction in the classroom is mission critical, and therefore the most important impact of technology has got to be enhancing and empowering the capability every teacher, principal and parent to be able to learn what it means to be a facilitator in the learning of a child.”

The full week of discussions came to an exciting conclusion with a live Q&A featuring questions from the audience to speakers from WWF, social sentiment analyst BrandsEye, decentralized AI network SingularityNET, and the National University of Singapore. The day was then concluded by Jason Wincuinas, senior editor, thought leadership Asia, The Economist Intelligence Unit’s remark: “The major headwinds of gaps in connectivity, digital inclusivity and digital fluency have been highlighted and need to be closed through proactive collaboration between public and private sectors”.

Key topics addressed at this year’s event were:

  • Is technology a force for good?
  • The gaps in digital inclusivity, digital fluency and connectivity
  • How best to foster the ethical adoption of digital platforms
  • How to implement shared values and authentic sustainability initiatives in organisations
  • Where impact and ESG investment is most needed

Chaired by The Economist Group’s editors, the event featured industry expert speakers including:

  • S. Iswaran, Minister of communications and information, Minister-in-charge of trade relations, Republic of Singapore
  • Audrey Tang, Digital minister, Taiwan
  • Nadiem Makarim, Minister of education and culture, Republic of Indonesia
  • Taesik Yoon, Deputy Minister, International Affairs, Ministry of Economy and Finance, Republic of Korea
  • Lew Chuen Hong, Chief executive, Infocomm Media Development Authority Singapore
  • Krittee Manoleehagul, Managing director, Tencent Thailand and General manager, Tencent International Business Group
  • Tim Minahan, Executive vice president, business strategy and chief marketing officer, Citrix
  • Dan Neary, Vice-president, Asia-Pacific, Facebook
  • Oliver Tonby, Chairman, Asia, McKinsey & Company
  • Mario Knoepfel, Head, Sustainable Investing Advisory, Asia-Pacific, UBS Global Wealth Management
  • Michele Lemmens, Head of business sustainability and Chief technology officer, Asia-Pacific, Tata Consultancy Services

and many more

View the final agenda.

Technology for Change Week Asia is supported by McKinsey & Company, Asian Development Bank, Citrix, Kearey, NEC, Tata Consultancy Services, Tencent and Infocomm Media Development Authority.

On-demand access to Technology for Change Week Asia is available. For online registration and event details, please visit the website:

To engage with Technology for Change Week Asia on social media, use #EconTechForChange in your conversations and follow @EconomistEvents.

About The Economist Events

We gather the world’s top thinkers to build insights and exchange views on the issues that define our world. With a uniquely global perspective, we create over 100 unusually high-level and engaging live and virtual events each year. Our aim is to bring clarity to complex problems, inspire ideas and help our audiences make better decisions.

Visit for more information.

About McKinsey & Company

We help organizations across the private, public, and social sectors create the Change that Matters most to them. From the C-suite to the front line, we partner with our clients to transform their organizations, embed technology into everything they do, and build enduring capabilities. With exceptional people in 65 countries, we combine global expertise and local insight to help you turn your ambitious goals into reality. For more information, visit

About Asian Development Bank

ADB is committed to achieving a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific, while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty. Established in 1966, it is owned by 68 members—49 from the region. Its main instruments for helping its developing member countries are policy dialogue, loans, equity investments, guarantees, grants, and technical assistance. For more information, visit

About Citrix

Citrix builds the secure, unified digital workspace technology that helps organizations unlock human potential and deliver a consistent workspace experience wherever work needs to get done. With Citrix, users get a seamless work experience and IT has a unified platform to secure, manage, and monitor diverse technologies in complex cloud environments. For more information, please visit

About Kearney

As a global consulting partnership specializing in strategic operations and transformation across industries in more than 40 countries, our people make us who we are. We’re individuals who take as much joy from those we work with as the work itself. Driven to be the difference between a big idea and making it happen, we help our clients break through. Visit

About NEC

NEC Corporation has established itself as a leader in the integration of IT and network technologies while promoting the brand statement of “Orchestrating a brighter world.” NEC enables businesses and communities to adapt to rapid changes taking place in both society and the market as it provides for the social values of safety, security, fairness and efficiency to promote a more sustainable world where everyone has the chance to reach their full potential. For more information, visit NEC at

About Tata Consultancy Services

Tata Consultancy Services is an IT services, consulting and business solutions organization that has been partnering with many of the world’s largest businesses in their transformation journeys for over 50 years. A part of the Tata group, India’s largest multinational business group, TCS has over 443,000 of the world’s best-trained consultants in 46 countries. The company generated consolidated revenues of US $22 billion in the fiscal year ended March 31, 2020, and is listed on the BSE (formerly Bombay Stock Exchange) and the NSE (National Stock Exchange) in India. TCS’ proactive stance on climate change and award-winning work with communities across the world have earned it a place in leading sustainability indices such as the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI), MSCI Global Sustainability Index and the FTSE4Good Emerging Index. For more information, visit us at

About Tencent

Tencent is a global company that uses technology to enrich the lives of internet users and assist in the digital transformation of industries through its diverse list of products and services. The company stands by its vision and mission of “Value for Users, Tech for Good” and aims to promote technological innovation and cultural vitality to help industries digitally upgrade and collaborate towards sustainable development of society. Shares of Tencent (00700.HK) are listed on the Main Board of the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong. For more information, visit

About Infocomm Media Development Authority

The Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) leads Singapore’s digital transformation with infocomm media. To do this, IMDA will develop a dynamic digital economy and a cohesive digital society, driven by an exceptional infocomm media (ICM) ecosystem – by developing talent, strengthening business capabilities, and enhancing Singapore’s ICM infrastructure. IMDA also regulates the telecommunications and media sectors to safeguard consumer interests while fostering a pro-business environment, and enhances Singapore’s data protection regime through the Personal Data Protection Commission. For more news and information, visit or follow IMDA on Facebook IMDAsg and Twitter @IMDAsg.