The Cambodian delegation is touring Germany for two weeks to strengthen its contacts with experts and exchange experiences with Germany. The visit is organized by Dr. Daniel Schmücking, Country Director, Konrad Adenauer Foundation (KAF) in Cambodia. The delegates included parliamentary leaders, the head of the Cambodian academy of Digital Technology, the chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, and representatives of research and capital market institutions.
In the past few years, the KAF Cambodia office has been establishing a network and partnerships with the ministries in waste management and digitalization. During their visit, the Cambodian delegation has been meeting members of the German parliament, German Federal Foreign Office, representatives of the German federal ministry for the environment, Chamber of Crafts, as well as non-governmental institutions such as ASEAN, Euro-Asian-Initiative and German public universities such as Erfurt University.
During their visit to Erfurt, the Cambodian delegates met the Brandt School staff at the Konrad Adenauer Office in Erfurt to discuss technological growth and progress. The idea of this dialogue was to discuss, compare and analyze how far Cambodia and Germany have made advancements in digitalization. Similarly, the dialogue focussed on different parallels and lessons within the digitalization sector in Cambodia and Germany. The delegates were welcomed by the Director of Brandt School, Prof. Dr. Andreas Goldthau and Dr. Hasnain Bokhari on behalf of the Erfurt University. In his opening remarks, Prof. Goldthau introduced the Brandt School as the first school of Public Policy in Germany. While acknowledging the importance of North-South cooperation, the delegates appreciated that over 80% of the students at the Brandt School are from the countries in the Global South.
The project lead on Internationalisation and Digitalisation at the Brandt School, Dr. Hasnain Bokhari, gave a detailed presentation on the scale of digitalization in Germany. Dr. Bokhari focussed on Germany's national digitalization strategy, which is built on five pillars: Digital competence, Digital Society, Infrastructural development, Modern State and Digital Transformation. These pillars jointly aim to transform the education sector, focus on smart cities and regions, gigabit society, and growth of science and technology in the environment and telecommunication sector.
Dr. Bokhari emphasized the importance of digital identities and their crucial role in the digital economy. He spoke of Germany's approach to eID and new forms of citizen verification/authentications such as WebID necessary for B2C and G2C transactions.
During the discussion, the head of the Cambodian Academy of Digital Technology, Dr. Sopheap Seng, spoke of how the Cambodian government is exploring partnerships within Asia, such as with China, Singapore and Japan. While comparing the German approach to eID, Dr. Seng referred to similar examples from Cambodia, which uses TaxID to authenticate. While responding to Dr. Bokhari's question about branchless banking, the delegates from Research and Capital Market institutions spoke of the higher adoption rate of Mobile Banking in Cambodia. It is interesting to note how Cambodia increasingly relies on partnerships with the digitalization sector. For instance, the payment gateway that enables mobile banking is a result of collaboration with Japan.
The delegates from Cambodia and representatives from the Brandt School also discussed the digitalization gaps within the public administration and education sector. The Director of the Brandt School, Prof. Goldthau, invited the delegates' attention to the Degree Programme for Public Policy. The Brandt School's MA programme has been a preferred choice for several serving civil servants from the countries in the Global South. Prof. Goldthau also presented Brandt School's memorabilia to every delegate. During their visit to Erfurt, the delegation also met the Thuringian Chamber of Crafts, the Thuringian Parliament and the representatives of Erfurt city's energy and waste management department before departing for Cambodia on June 25, 2022.