With HCMC seeking to become a digital powerhouse by 2030, experts say more investment is needed in infrastructure and training to improve its ability to adopt technology.
City chairman Phan Van Mai said the aim is to become a smart city with modern services and industries by 2025, and a leader in the areas of digital economy, digital society and digital government by 2030.
The digital economy will account for 25 percent of the economy by 2025 and 40 percent by 2030, more ambitious targets than the country’s.
HCMC is also the first locality to announce a digital transformation target.
The digital economy accounted for approximately 14.4 percent of the city’s GDP last year, according to the HCMC Institute For Development Studies.
HCMC has many pre-requisites to realize its goals, experts have pointed out.
Its economy is large, and it is a hub for international integration, innovation, and technological development, Nguyen Xuan Thang, director of the Ho Chi Minh National Academy of Politics, said.
It also has the largest rate of Internet and smartphone users in the country, he said.
“It is timely now after the pandemic to start considering digital transformation as a growth driver”.
Truong Gia Binh, head of the Private Sector Development Committee and chairman of tech giant FPT, said HCMC needs to be a “green pearl” in digital transformation as it has the largest information technology workforce.
It also has the best digital transformation database and leads in smart transportation and smart healthcare, he said.
“I propose that HCMC spends at least 2 percent of its annual budget on digital transformation”.
To achieve the target, World Bank country director for Vietnam, Carolyn Turk, said the city needs to set up cost-effective digital infrastructure and provide sustainable digital services.
Despite having a high ratio of people with Internet access, Vietnam still ranks low regionally in readiness to migrate to cloud computing, and needs more investment in 5G and data handling, she said.
Though 50 percent of Vietnam’s public financial services have been integrated online, only 15 percent is actually done online, which means there is still a long way to go, she pointed out.
More reforms are needed in areas like digitization regulations and data access, she added.
Alfonso Garcia Mora, the International Finance Corporation’s regional vice president for the Asia Pacific, said public-private partnerships should be created for infrastructure development, and having policies that foster international standards would help attract foreign investment.
Nguyen Thanh Phong, deputy head of the Central Economic Committee’s standing committee, said things the city could do right away include setting up the digital transformation hub DXCenter and the Academy for Advanced Technology and Innovation.
Digital infrastructure should first be set up for healthcare, education, finance, tourism, transportation, and the environment, he said.
Deputy Minister of Information and Communications Nguyen Huy Dung said the city should strive to make digital public services as easy as sending an email or using social media.
A digital society is where people can just grab their phones to complete administrative procedures.
Philipp Rösler, former vice chancellor of Germany and consultant to VinaCapital Ventures, said the city needs to increase technological job training with public-private partnerships.
Binh said artificial intelligence, Internet of things and metaverse should be taught in schools.
FPT University would import courses on games from India and the U.S. to make HCMC a ‘Hollywood of Games,’ he added.
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