Viet Nam to build first Digital Strategy to Move into Knowledge-based Society
Ha Noi - The Ministry of Posts and Telematics (MPT) has held a two day-roundtable, the first of a series of multi-stakeholder roundtables to bring together policy-makers, donors, the civil society and private sector to develop Viet Nam’s first comprehensive digital strategy.
The roundtables -Paving the Road towards Viet Nam’s ICT Strategy – are part of the project “National Consultations on Information and Communication Technology for Development”, supported by the UN Development Programme (UNDP). The initiative aims to bring together different stakeholders to consult about ways to integrate development centered ICT into key national development priorities and their relevant strategies, including the Ten Year Socio-Economic Development Strategy and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Dr. Mai Liem Truc, Standing Vice Minister of MPT, welcomed the multi-stakeholder roundtables as an effective way to keep the ICT high on the reform agenda. He said ICT was one of the centrepieces in the implementation of the Government's decade-long development strategy. 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.
Viet Nam pins its hope on cutting-edge ICTs to make a giant leap into the information and knowledge-based society. The MPT unveiled at the roundtable the first outline of Viet Nam’s ICT Strategy until 2010 and beyond. The Strategy’s Four Pillars include upgrading Viet Nam's IT infrastructure, developing human resources, improving IT applications, and strengthening the domestic IT industry, which will all contribute to the achievement of national socio-economic development goals. It envisages important roles for the Government, enterprises as well as users in the development and implementation of the strategy. It also recognizes the need for a set of Viet Nam-specific but internationally comparable indicators to measure progress in the future.
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".
Mr. Ryan noted that a successful ICT strategy should not be seen in isolation from the context of social economic development of Viet Nam, which is striving to achieve poverty eradication and other of the MDGs.
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. He also stressed the need for harnessing the potential of the private sector, particularly the small and medium-sized enterprises, as an engine for investment and innovation. The success of the strategy will depend very much on the quality of the public-private partnership, he said.
This view was echoed by Dr. TYoung Chul Kang, managing director of the Korean Maeil Business Newspaper and TV. He referred to the model of the Knowledge Port Initiative, which has been successfully implemented in some countries. At heart of this initiative, a special regulation free area with educated and skilled manpower, equipped with world-class IT infrastructure and using English as a second language.
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. Mr. Hoang Moc Kien, a representative of the Viet Nam’s Blind Association said, Internet and IT technology, especially voice recognition technology, has a great potential of narrowing the gap between able and disabled people.
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, efforts are being made to enhance farmers’ access to relevant information through radio, television and the Internet. Last year, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development launched Agroviet (www.agroviet.gov.vn), a website to promote trade of agricultural and forestry products by offering market information, seeking trade partners and gradually exchanging products through E-commerce.
Although the Viet Nam’s ICT sector has been growing steadily during recent years, various assessments rank Viet Nam at the lower end in the world in terms of "e-readiness" or the capacity of nations to participate in the digital economy, and one of the least equipped to prosper in the global networked economy.
These multi-stakeholder policy dialogues, which will run until the end of 2003, 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.