CEO, Macquarie Group
Ian Watson’s challenge when joining Cambodia’s Cellcard, in 2012, was to develop the telco in a country that was playing catch-up to many of the more developed nations in the region, particularly in 4G.
Six years and $300 million worth of investment later, Cellcard had 90% of the country covered by its 4G LTE network. That target reached, Watson’s eyes have switched to 5G.
This year, Cellcard became the first operator in Cambodia to conduct 5G trials. It installed the first 5G sites in Phnom Penh, which were then used to deliver the Kingdom’s first use case, a telemedicine service to help coordinate the COVID-19 response.
Watson’s mission goes beyond building networks. He is also a believer in the humanitarian impact of digitization, especially in Cambodia’s rural areas. This year the company launched an e-learning platform in partnership with government ministries, with Cellcard providing free data access to the app for teachers and students nationwide between select hours.
“Digital empowerment will change people’s lives for the better by advancing education, health, agriculture, and farming, and deliver access to the world for all Cambodians,” Watson tells Business Insider.