Vietnam to spend $4B on IT development to 2010 –

Vietnam will invest US$4 billion on building up its IT sector between now and 2010, a senior government official said Tuesday.

Do Trung Ta, head of the newly-formed Ministry of Post and Telecommunication said the funds will be used to upgrade Vietnam's telecommunication infrastructure, develop human resources for the IT sector, improve Internet services, and lay the groundwork for expanded use of IT and the Internet in the community, according to a government Web site.

The most important issue is raising the awareness of IT so that all enterprises and individuals understand the advantages of IT, Ta said. Government departments, large and small companies will all be encouraged to use e-commerce, while all schools in Vietnam will have access to the Internet by 2005, he said.

Targets for 2005 include achieving an average annual growth rate for the IT industry of between 20 percent and 25 percent and increasing the number of Internet subscribers to around 5 percent of the population from around 1 percent currently, according to the Web site.

Vietnam currently has 250,000 Internet subscribers. Authorities quote International Telecommunications Union (ITU) figures for developing countries which suggest that there are four users per subscriber, and conclude that Vietnam therefore has 1 million Internet users out of a population of 80 million.

Vietnam has over 5 million fixed and mobile phone subscribers with a teledensity of 6.26 lines per 100 inhabitants and plans to increase this to.between 15 and 20 lines per 100 inhabitants to 2010.

Ta also said that Vietnam needed to pay more attention to the issue of protecting intellectual property rights if it was wanted to build a robust IT industry which included software development. Several dedicated software parks have been established to provide a development environment for software engineers in Vietnam, whose population is predominantly young, and regarded as literate and well-educated given the country's overall low level of economic development.

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