Local mobile telecommunications service provider Smart Axiata Co Ltd has reportedly invested around $1.88 billion in telecoms infrastructure to connect Cambodia and contributed more than $562 million in taxes, levies and regulatory fees to the Kingdom since it started operations in 2008.

Smart paid $95 million in taxes, levies and regulatory fees last year while “continuing to be the Kingdom’s employer of choice”, supporting some 56,000 jobs directly or through its investments, according to its 2020 Sustainability Report received by The Post on November 15.

“High on Smart Axiata’s nation-building agenda is the commitment to the country’s digital future with ongoing investments in crucial infrastructure as well as support to Cambodia’s digital start-ups and ‘technopreneurs’.

“Having successfully trialled 5G at about 20 sites in Phnom Penh, Smart will work closely with the relevant authorities to enable the widespread availability of this exciting technological development and lead the way in the rollout of 5G in Cambodia,” the company said.

Smart acting CEO Feiruz Ikhwan said the company’s mission is to continue connecting people and investing in areas that benefit the Cambodian economy – especially in “turbo-charging” the Kingdom’s digital future.

“We continue to work tirelessly to help pave the way for Cambodia’s digital age. As the leading mobile telecommunications operator, Smart has made a point of using our strengths and resources and collaborating with the relevant ministries of the Royal Government to help Cambodia during these trying times,” he said.

However a lack of telecoms infrastructure development has been causing disruptions in service delivery, and Minister of Post and Telecommunications Chea Vandeth in June called for telecom operators and internet service providers (ISP) to scale up investment to meet the sharp increase in consumer demand.

“Companies are merely looking to turn a profit – line their own pockets with money without bothering to deploy additional equipment,” Vandeth said.

Smart’s report also highlights the company’s efforts in nurturing talents, noting that it works with partners to provide growth and learning opportunities to local youths so that they can take their place in Cambodia’s digital economy.

The firm also says it invests in developing and recognising its employees’ skills through various talent development programmes implemented in the workplace.

These undertakings not only benefit Smart but the entire nation, the company said, adding that it strives to align with the government’s digital economy agenda.

Ikhwan added: “We are proud of our contributions to the sustainable growth and development of Cambodia, our home, and we thank you, our partners, stakeholders and the Royal Government of Cambodia, for your continued support.

“We will continue to play a key role as a digital enabler and create meaningful connections while enabling a positive and sustainable future for our community and country.”

As of April, Cambodia had five mobile operators – Smart, CamGSM Co Ltd (Cellcard), Viettel (Cambodia) Pte Ltd (MetFone), Xinwei (Cambodia) Telecom Co Ltd (CooTel) and South East Asia Telecom (Cambodia) Co Ltd (Seatel), the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications reported.

The number of mobile internet subscriptions recorded 17.48 million in April, representing a 9.38 per cent rise from 14,863,435 in May 2020, whereas fixed internet subscriptions logged a 4.9 per cent dip over the same interval, from 249,132 to 236,962, official figures indicate.