Technological autonomy the basis for Vietnam’s success

October 18, 2021 | 09:22 am GMT+7

Minister of Information and Communications Nguyen Manh Hung has met with Secretary General of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) Houlin Zhao, who is attending the ITU Digital World 2021 hosted by Vietnam.


At the meeting, Minister Nguyen Manh Hung expressed his pleasure meeting Mr. Houlin Zhao again in Hanoi. He praised Mr. Houlin Zhao's role as ITU Secretary General for nearly two terms, and thanked him for giving Vietnam the honor of hosting the ITU Digital World twice in a row.

Minister Hung said that in the last two years, telecommunications has been combined with information and digital technology. This convergence has created a revolution and now it is not just a matter of technology, but a matter of policy and institutions to promote the development of the digital environment. Therefore, ITU needs a change in the direction of refreshing policy and institutional issues, in order to further accept the digital environment.

According to Minister Hung, digital technology has created very fundamental changes. Because the impacts are strong, the world is looking forward to ITU's stronger participation in non-technological issues, for example, national sovereignty in digital space; responsibilities of large technology companies, and the issue of legal compliance and trans-border services.

During the meeting, Minister Hung proposed a number of initiatives to the ITU Secretary General: each ITU member country takes an initiative of its own or at the suggestion of the ITU and implements that initiative with its own resources. When it is successful, ITU will spread that initiative globally. Thus, ITU will mobilize resources of 193 countries.

“If 193 member countries have one successful initiative each year, then ITU will have 193 great initiatives. I think it is a very big change,” said Minister Hung.

Another initiative proposed by the Vietnamese Minister is the schedule to abandon 2G services by 2023. It is estimated that by early 2023, the number of customers using 2G handsets will be less than 5%. Accordingly, the Government and mobile network operators will buy 4G devices to replace the 2G devices used by 5% of the population.

Another proposal raised by Minister Nguyen Manh Hung is to change the name of the ITU to the International Digital Union (IDU).

Vietnam: role model

ITU General Secretary Houlin Zhao said that Vietnam's internet access index is now higher and has quickly surpassed that of the Philippines. He also praised Vietnam’s improved awareness of the importance of ICT, citing the Vietnamese Prime Minister's attendance at the ITU conference as an example.

He said that Vietnam's achievements have spread beyond Southeast Asia and can be compared with other countries as Vietnamese corporations like Viettel have reached out to more than 10 foreign markets.

According to the ITU official, Vietnam also has chosen the right path when it comes to technology autonomy. “Vietnam has reached out to foreign markets, used Made-in-Vietnam technological equipment. This is what I want other ITU members to learn from Vietnam, because you are not only successful in investing overseas,” said the ITU Secretary General.

“Vietnam is currently implementing new strategies and has just added a new pillar to it - the Digital Society. We will work together to be able to deploy all three pillars,” he said.

He praised the initiatives proposed by Minister Nguyen Manh Hung.

Regarding the proposal to change the name of the ITU, he said that this issue can be discussed among member countries.

Sharing the same vision with Minister Nguyen Manh Hung, Mr. Houlin Zhao said that the role of Big Tech and their shared responsibility is also a matter of concern of ITU.

In practice, he said, governments can hardly ask Big Tech to use profits for reinvestment. “We are preparing a report on the Financial System for the 21st Century that contains suggestions on how to help regulate Big Tech companies.”

After two consecutive years hosting the ITU Digital World, Minister Nguyen Manh Hung once again expressed the wish to organize the event next year.