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Interview : Thierry Tea, "Cambodia needs to develop its digital infrastructure and, above all, its tech talent"

At the opening cocktail of the "Cambodia Tech Catalyst" event, supported by Google APAC, the enthusiastic vice-president of the OCIC group, Thierry Tea, shared his impressions of this first event and offered some thoughts on the future of tech in Cambodia.

Thierry Tea, Vice-Chairman of the OCIC Group
Thierry Tea, Vice-Chairman of the OCIC Group
 

Watch the interview

 

Tell us about Cambodia Tech Catalyst

Today we have the opportunity to co-organise with our partners from

Cambodia Tech Catalyst an event that has nearly 220 participants and I think this shows that the public's interest in tech in Cambodia is growing.

We were able to bring in a team from Singapore who represent Google Cloud for the Asia Pacific region to assess the market prospects in Cambodia.

That's really great, and we want to continue and develop this type of approach.

Is this a new direction for the OCIC Group?

For over 20 years, the OCIC group has continued to internationalise and innovate. And today we are entering a new era, that of digital technology, a trend that is accelerating in Cambodia. So for me, tech is the future, digital is the future. The OCIC is therefore promoting a place called Connexion, a 45,000 square metre community hub where we hope to develop innovation.

Connexion, a 45,000 square metre community hub
Connexion, a 45,000 square metre community hub

Our ambition is to help start-ups develop and we want to continue to work with our partners to give start-ups the chance to grow in Cambodia, to create links and relationships with international networks, customers, suppliers and, above all, to find funding.

Why did you choose to focus on media?

Usually, it's the media that interview people. Here, we wanted to put them in the spotlight to expose them, give them the chance to discuss and talk about what they are doing and how they are going to develop.

Today we're talking about digital and tech, and this week's topic is artificial intelligence, or 'generative AI', which is revolutionising tech, digital and of course the media. So we're talking about a lot of technologies and solutions that will be used to support all kinds of activities. In this sense, the media are very interesting platforms because they reach millions of people.

So we want to continue to support the media and their digital transformation.

Are you optimistic about the development of tech in Cambodia?

We went to France last January with Prime Minister Hun Manet's delegation. We have the director of École 42 who is probably planning to set up in Cambodia. And we're also in discussions with Station F, one of the biggest start-up campuses in the world, developed by Xavier Niel. So we think there's a real opportunity today with the younger generation in Cambodia. The latest reports indicate that 60% of Cambodia is 'Gen Z'.

"More than 70% of the population is under the age of 30, and the best way to develop right now, particularly in the provinces, is through digital technology.''

There are two million people in Phnom Penh and another 15 million in the provinces, and to be connected with the world, Cambodia needs to develop its digital infrastructure and, above all, its tech talent.

What's your vision?

Personally, I've been investing in start-ups for 10 years, particularly in tech, whether in France or Cambodia, in FinTech or in B2B e-commerce in the United States. So I firmly believe in the future of digital. Up until now, Cambodia's major groups haven't really taken the plunge and helped businesses to make changes.

So we need entrepreneurs and we need to help start-ups in the same way as in France, where the big groups are investing in this sector. Cambodia has to go that way. So we're going to push for support for start-ups and pass on this mindset, this culture, to the country's big companies.

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