Covid-19 speeds up digital transformation, highlights policy needs

13:00 | 10/09/2021 Science - Technology

(VEN) - According to the World Bank (WB), Vietnam is positioned well to join the global digital race but progress requires focused and proactive government policies to realize its ambitions.

In an August 2021 report, the WB said the rate of people using mobile phones is high and on the increase. More and more Vietnamese people are also connected to the internet. The presence of some of the world's leading information technology corporations in Vietnam such as Samsung, Apple and Intel also provides a significant opportunity for Vietnamese workers to improve their digital skills and participate in Vietnam’s expanding digital economy.

However, the WB report noted that Vietnam's workforce lacks necessary skills to fully master the digital economy with only 40 percent of enterprises reporting that they have sufficient information and communication technology skills to maintain and fully exploit digital technology systems.

The report’s authors therefore urged policymakers to encourage businesses and workers to acquire the right skills to take advantage of the digitalization transformation, nurture innovative capacity among firms through competition and financial support to local startups and talents, and promote information access, quality, and security.

The digital economy can only develop in parallel with cyber security. According to the Global Cybersecurity Index (GCI), Vietnam has a fairly good level of protection, ranking 25th out of 194 countries and territories worldwide, seventh in the Asia-Pacific region and fourth among ASEAN countries.

The Covid-19 pandemic has provided a strong push for acceleration of Vietnam's digital transformation both in state administration and business. The number of online public services increased tenfold, from 169 in March 2020 to over 1,900 services in October 2020. In particular, more than 2,000 services have been standardized and integrated into the National Public Service Portal, from driver's license issuance to tax registration and business registration, leading to a tenfold increase in applications and transactions from January 2020 to February 2021.

Covid-19 is accelerating the business sector’s digital transformation

Upgrading infrastructure, skills

Meanwhile, Vietnamese businesses have embraced information and communication technology to facilitate remote working and approach customers despite social distancing and travel restrictions due to Covid-19. A recent telephone survey by the WB showed that the rate of enterprises using digital platforms, e-commerce sites, and social networks increased sharply in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, from 48 percent in June 2020 to 73 percent in January 2021. Meanwhile, the rate of enterprises investing in digital solutions also surged by more than four times from five percent to 21 percent in the same period.

As the world recovers from the Covid-19 crisis, it is clear that digital transformation will play an increasingly important role in the global economy, said WB Lead Economist and Program Leader for Vietnam Jacques Morisset. The Vietnamese government has clearly expressed its desire to join the digital race by setting digital transformation as one of the key goals in the Socioeconomic Development Strategy for the 2021-2030 period.

However, in order to derive more benefits from the digital transformation of the economy, Jacques Morisset said that the Vietnamese government must upgrade infrastructure, encourage the application of digital technology and attract investment to facilitate participation of small businesses in the digital economy, develop digital skills, and foster innovation capacity.

The WB recommends that the government subsidize more digital skills training for employees by strengthening information technology education and training at all levels, especially through the system of technical and vocational schools. In addition, the government needs to adopt encouraging policies on creative innovation among big enterprises as well as incentivize small businesses and startups to participate in the field.

According to the National Digital Transformation Program approved by the Prime Minister, Vietnam strives to

be a member of the group of 70 leading countries in e-Government (EGDI) by 2025. Also on its list of goals is

to have the digital economy account for 20 percent of GDP, for the proportion of the digital economy in each

sector or field to reach at least 10 percent and for annual labor productivity to increase at least by seven

percent.

Quynh Nga