UNDP Launches Policy Dialogue on Digital Opportunities
Ha Noi - The UN Development Programme (UNDP) will kick start, in April 2003, a series of multi-stakeholder round tables to bring together policy-makers, donors, the civil society and private sector to identify constraints and provide policy options for harnessing digital opportunities so Viet Nam can take advantage of economic and social benefits of the global knowledge-based economy.
This announcement was made today at the signing ceremony of the UNDP-supported project “National Consultations on Information and Communication Technology for Development”, to be implemented by the Ministry of Posts and Telematics (MPT). The initiative will consult different stakeholders about ways to integrate development centered ICT into key national development priorities and their relevant strategies including the IT Master Plan (2005), and the Comprehensive Poverty Reduction and Growth Strategy (CPRGS).
These multi-stakeholder policy dialogues, which will run until the end of 2003, will serve to raise awareness among both the public and private players of the benefits of ICT for Development. This process is also envisaged to strengthen the Government’s capacity to develop the ICT industry and use ICT as to foster socio-economic development.
Dr. Mai Liem Truc, Deputy Minister of MPT, said ICT was one of the centrepieces in the implementation of the Government's decade-long development strategy. He welcomed the consultation round tables as effective ways to keep the ICT high on the reform agenda. The IT Master Plan, which followed the Directive 58 of the Party Politbureau, recognizes ICT as a pillar in the country’s infrastructure and one of the driving forces of economic growth. But experts warn that it focuses heavily on the development of the IT industry, and needs more emphasis on the promotion of ICT for Development.
UNDP Resident Representative Jordan Ryan said: “ICT is not the solution for all development problems, but if harnessed effectively, it could transform the lives of the poor and offer breakthrough development opportunities to Viet Nam.” He said ICT could give Viet Nam a much needed competitive edge as the country goes global: “For ICT to serve as an engine for development, it is absolutely critical that an effective policy framework and national ICT strategy enable the economy to capture fully the benefits of these technologies".
According to Mr. Ryan, the implementation of the Master Plan requires joint efforts and cross-sectoral coordination, especially in combining policies for technology and innovation with policies for industrial development, trade, infrastructure improvement, administrative reform, education, and human resource development.
Tremendous potential exists for harnessing cutting-edge technologies to tackle the well known challenges of human poverty. Despite limited numbers of computers and Internet subscribers, many successful examples of the use of ICT can be found in Viet Nam. Increasingly, the government is applying ICT to public administration to provide improved services for citizens and to boost efficiency of its institutions. In several sectors at national and even at provincial levels, there is a strong move to modernize administration and service delivery with information technology. Also, pilot efforts are being made to enhance farmers’ access to relevant information through radio, television and the Internet. Banks and other credit institutions have begun to use data communications and computerized databases.
Although the Viet Nam’s ICT sector has been growing steadily during recent years, Viet Nam needs to do more in terms of "e-readiness" or the capacity of nations to participate in the digital economy. A number of key constraints in the policy and regulatory environment and institutional capacity need to be addressed simultaneously if Viet Nam is to fully benefit from the use of ICT.A website www.ict4d.org.vn was also launched today to facilitate information sharing related to ICT for development between stakeholders.