"Cambodian IT industry is developing extremely fast and will quickly surpass Japan." - these words were spoken by Takeshi Izuka, who have also started company in the IT field and is a one of the most prominent IT entrepreneurs in Japan. Now in Kirirom in Cambodia, he administrates the university for the potential global frontiers in the IT field. We asked him about the establishment of the recently gathering attention university, the education in IT field as well problems of the IT personnel in Cambodia. (Time of the interview: March 2018) (Interviewed at: March, 2018)
Mr. Takeshi Izuka: CEO of A2ATown(Cambodia).
We are going to make a huge impact on Cambodian IT industry
――Please tell us about the main problems of the IT industry in Cambodia
First, competition is extremely low. When it comes to the IT field, Cambodia does not have anything to export, so the main focus in on the import.
I think the leading problem is that, it is hard to have any hopeful prospects for Cambodia, which technology level is low even if comparing it to the nearby countries such as Vietnam or Malaysia, especially in the current reality, where the IT is the main force changing the world.
――Why the competition is so dramatically low?
It is because Cambodia has a lack of IT specialists and it is extremely hard to find a good quality IT company. Low number of organizations means also almost no occasions for the training in the IT field, so the absence of a organized IT ecosystem is a real issue.
Besides, the particularly big problem is that people do not dream about becoming an IT engineers. The main reason for that is there is no many individuals who made a real money while being in the Cambodian IT industry, whilst there may be some successful people in the real estate though.
――Does the Cambodian IT engineers have some interesting, special features?
Cambodian’s mind is incredible. Lot of them have an independent, positive way of thinking.
On the other hand, they really lack mathematics skills. It is hard to speak about everyone only by looking at our students though, because the level of Kirirom Institute of Technology is about 25 times higher than in other places.
――Are there any problems regarding the Cambodian personnel or the education of Cambodian engineers?
Education regarding mathematics up to high-school is still a huge problem therefore we are really struggling with teaching the science engineers. For example, there are people who can use A.I., but the number of those who can actually create it is still very small.
Additional issue is low education level of the students’ parents and children do not have many things which can learn from them. It is a problem which shows up even before entering the school, resulting with a huge minus in an education overall.
――Please tell us about the future prospects of IT engineers and the education
I think both the number of personnel and the level education in the whole country will go up in future, because todays’ students of Kirirom Institute of Technology will become eventually teachers.
Since we are hardly focusing on creating a perfect place for learning, we are not going to lose to any other university. Still, we think that some institutions should try their strengths in winning with us, so if we will be able to create a good model, then the whole IT level in Cambodia should go up effectively.
Also, I think that in order to just enter the Kirirom Institute of Technology future some sort of the supply chain will also show up, like private schools. That way high-school students’ level will also raise and with it also the education’s standards.
――How long may take for Cambodia to actually catch-up with the surrounding countries?
If comparing the high-school education level to the ASEAN countries, Cambodia loses overwhelmingly, so if you look from the perspective of the whole country catching-up maybe even impossible…but Kirirom Institute of Technology has considerably higher level than nearby countries.
――Lastly, please tell us about the future prospects of the Cambodian IT industry
I think that in future foreign IT companies will be entering here in much higher speed, since there is nothing here yet. There are no vested rights as well there is no system to replace. That way, IT businesses will grow dramatically and outgrow even Japanese companies.
It may be an influence of the Chinese companies, but in Cambodia mobile payment systems became very popular. When it comes to the American companies, Cambodians like to use Apple and Facebook but in future, other big companies like Google or Amazon may also enter the market.
Since we are going to be the source of upcoming impact on the Cambodian IT industry, the direction which we chose will be also the one which we will lead. The decision of the direction of the Cambodian IT industry is in our hands.