He said Asean members have a good vision and a good number of online population besides a fairly developed Information Technology (IT) infrastructure to accelerate the growth of the digital economy.
"The COVID-19 pandemic has further reinforced the importance of digitalisation to the life of the people, (and) to the socio-economic or even security of any country,” he told Bernama in an email interview in conjunction with the inaugural Asean Digital Ministers’ Meeting (ADGMIN1) and related meetings from Jan 18-22, hosted by Malaysia and to be held via videoconference.
Commenting on the digitalisation efforts made for the people in Vietnam, Dr Thai said Vietnam, for the first time, during the Covid-19 pandemic, has connected all the Ministry of Healthcare’s hospitals online, where Vietnamese people living in remote and rural areas can enjoy better healthcare services such as diagnosis or treatment.
"I think the government of Vietnam is now on the right track on digitalisation,” he said, adding that Vietnam has an Internet penetration rate of 70 per cent with 68.17 million Vietnamese being internet users.
He said the development and progress of digitalisation will benefit everyone - the people, to businesses, to the government or even foreign investors coming to the (Asean) region, and "we will enjoy better and safe services during this pandemic, (and) a faster connectivity to your friends or business partners.
"But at the same time, we need a better and more level-playing field for everybody to join in the context of Industry 4.0 and in the post-COVID-19 world,” he said, adding that Vietnam is regarded as among the countries having the largest rate of internet penetration in the world.
On his expectations on the ADGMIN1, Dr Thai said the meeting is expected to focus on the strengthening of cooperation among ASEAN members for building an inclusive, sustainable and accessible digital ecosystem for Asean in the future.
"It is also a good chance for ministers in charge of information and communications to talk and exchange ideas about the progress ASEAN has made in implementing ASEAN ICT Masterplan 2020.
"During this ADGMIN1, it is also expected that the Asean Digital Masterplan 2025 will be launched besides touching upon other important issues such as 5G, e-commerce renovation and private data protection,” he added.
Themed "Asean: A Digitally Connected Community", the meeting seeks to strengthen cooperation among Asean countries towards building digital ecosystems as a pillar in the post-Covid-19 development plan.
Commenting further, Dr Thai said that according to a report titled "Southeast Asian digital economy in 2019”, conducted by Google, Temasek and Bain, the digital economy of Vietnam in 2019 is worth US$12 billion, - four times higher than that of 2015 - and is expected to rise to about US$43 billion in 2025.
He said the main driving force for the development of digital economy of Vietnam is e-commerce, which is equivalent to US$5 billion, besides online tourism (US$4 billion) and online communication (US$3 billion).
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations or ASEAN has 10 member states namely Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Laos, Myanmar, Cambodia, and Vietnam.- Bernama
Did you find this article insightful?