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KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia is poised to become a powerhouse in clean and renewable energy in the Southeast Asian region, especially with the emergence of high-tech industries driving up the electricity demand, said industry players.

Speaking at the KL20 Summit 2024 during a forum titled “The Future of Clean Energy,” OCI Holdings Ltd chairman Lee Woo-Hyun highlighted several factors making Malaysia an attractive destination for energy investments which include its strategic geographical location, abundance of potential human capital and the conducive policies adopted by the government.

Lee emphasised Malaysia’s stability amid geopolitical tensions, making it an appealing choice for industry players looking to secure their supply chain networks.

“Malaysia has proven to be beneficial due to its neutral stance in geopolitical tensions. This makes the country highly potential for clean energy investments,“ he said.

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However, Lee noted that for Malaysia to fully realise its potential, it needs to focus on developing the skill sets of its labour force, stressing the importance of training the workforce to meet the demands of clean energy and emerging high-tech industries.

“The problem is there is a strong mismatch between some graduates’ actual skills and the skill sets required by companies. There is still a learning curve to bridge this gap,“ Lee said.

Meanwhile, Google’s Asia Pacific Head of Clean Energy and Power Giorgio Fortunato, also a panelist in the forum, emphasised the importance of a stable energy landscape for the growth of the digital economy as tech companies rely on stable and reliable electricity to operate their data centres effectively.

“We are currently in a transition period where many markets across the Asia Pacific are establishing new policy frameworks and mechanisms for energy users like us to procure carbon-free energy. There is no better way to operate data centres than using clean energy,“ he said.

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Fortunato added that the tech giant is committed to providing upskilling opportunities for 300,000 Malaysians by 2026. Additionally, they are exploring the potential establishment of a data centre for their digital services, accelerating artificial intelligence (AI) innovation to enhance economic competitiveness and developing cloud-first policies for the AI economy.

He said these initiatives are part of a collaboration outlined in a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed with Malaysia last year which was part of Google’s broader initiative to foster growth in businesses of all sizes, empowering them to become more competitive in the digital economy.