Computer Science seeks way to narrow regional development gap

Ha Noi, Dec. 4 (VNA) -- Officially recognised as the spearhead of the national industrialization and modernization, the fledgling information technology sector is set to receive greater investment to catch up with other economies in the region and the world as a whole into next decade, confirmed the Minister of Science, Technology and the Environment.

The investment, however, should be made systematically in the both infrastructure and training projects, Minister Chu Tuan Nha told Sai Gon Giai Phong (Sai Gon Liberation) daily in an exclusive interview on Nov. 28. He also stressed the need to adjust Internet charges to the regional average.

Information technology (IT) in Viet Nam is lagging far behind other countries in the world, even in the region, despite efforts made by the Government, said Nha.

So far, for every 100 citizens Viet Nam has only 3.7 telephone subscribers, against the world average of 14.4 percent, 0.5 computer sets against the world average of 5.8 percent, 0.2 mobile phone subscribers against the world average of 4 percent and 0.1 Internet subscribers against the APEC average of 15 percent.

The problem lies in the way some people conceive of IT's role in economic development, Nha complained. He said some planners considered IT and the hi-tech industry as exclusively the domain of scientists, and not practical in daily life. Others believe the opposite, seeing it as a remedy for every problem.

These misguided concepts led to the poor investment, either putting very little money into the industry's development or investing in a wide range of projects thus making investment inefficient, Nha explained. This was the reason for the limited progress made in the industry's development scheme.

He blamed unreasonably high prices for Internet services, for the low rate of Internet usage in Viet Nam. The services were unaffordable to a large segment of the Vietnamese population, Nha said, creating a hurdle to IT in Viet Nam.

The solution requires authorities at all levels to work out proper investment plans and telecommunication and Internet charges to be reduced to levels lower than or equal to the prices in other regional nations.

He expressed confidence that Viet Nam could meet target of training 50,000 IT engineers by 2010, up from the 20,000-strong personnel at present. He said the target was strongly grounded in reviews of the training work in the last five years, which has helped increase 10-fold the number of engineers from just 2,000 in 1995.

Training would be conducted in various forms, including IT training for university graduates from other professions, Nha concluded.

The Political Bureau of the Communist Party of Viet Nam on Oct. 17 issued directive on the development of the IT up to 2010. It aims to reach the regional development level in some key areas such as expanding the communications network nationwide, and popularising Internet services so as to reach regional growth rates and the world average in the number of subscribers.--VNA