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The Vietnam manufacturing industry stands to benefit most from robotics as its processes involve repetitive work in confined, structured spaces, environments that robots excel in. Collaborative robots (cobots) can work around the clock and produce consistent work under harsh working conditions without any rest. This is why Universal Robots (UR), a Denmark-based collaborative robots manufacturer, has advised Vietnam’s manufacturing industry leaders to implement cobots to address skills and labour shortage as well as achieve higher productivity.

As per news reports, in 2020, the manufacturing sector played a pivotal role in driving Vietnam’s economy, contributing to 5.82% in the economy. Additionally, it accounts for 16.69% of the GDP of Vietnam. According to Nikkei and IHS Market, the Vietnam Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) reflected 51.7 points in December, up from 49.9 in November. Hence, business conditions in the Vietnamese manufacturing sector witnessed gradual improvement.

An industry expert has noted that safety is imperative and has become the cost of entry into the cobot market now. UR believes in developing affordable, lightweight, and flexible robots that could deliver a rapid return on investment for the manufacturing industry. By lowering the automation barrier within the reach of manufacturers who never thought that they could deploy robots due to cost and complexity, UR hopes to help Vietnam’s industries realise higher productivity and maintain the effective utilisation of their plants. Today, UR’s cobots allow employees to move from repetitive, low-value tasks to high-value activities that increase work productivity and quality.

According to the ‘Collaborative Robot Market by Payload, Component, Application, Industry, and Geography – Global Forecast to 2026’ report, cobots are increasingly being adopted by various industries due to advantages such as increased productivity and effective employee utilisation. The cobots’ market in the Asia Pacific region is expected to surpass that in Europe by 2021 due to large-scale manufacturing industries especially automotive, electronics, and metals sectors which are increasingly deploying cobots.

Earlier this month, OpenGov Asia had reported that the Politburo issued a resolution that gave orientations for making national industrial development policies until 2030 with a vision to 2045. The Prime Minister approved the national programme on supporting businesses to improve productivity and goods quality for 2021-2030, which includes the promotion of smart manufacturing. Smart production is forecast to grow strongly in the ASEAN region from 2025.

Apart from manufacturing, the country is looking to apply robotics across all economic sectors, including finance, education, and healthcare. In February, Vietnam unveiled Tri Nhan, the first robot built in Vietnam with artificial intelligence (AI). It is expected to be the future of teaching. With the ability to do maths, solve problems, and even read poems, the robot could one day become a teaching assistant, a report had noted.

According to its developers, Tri Nhan integrates typical technologies from Industry 4.0, including AI, big data, cloud computing, 3D printing, blockchain, supercomputers, and bioinformatics. It can answer questions in almost any field. Tri Nhan aims to serve the education sector by effectively supporting teaching and learning through answering questions and even solving equations.

Not just a personal assistant, Tri Nhan is also an inspirational robot who can joke around with a human-like personality and emotional intelligence. The cost of building Tri Nhan is too expensive for it to be commercialised, according to an Open Classroom representative. They will, however, continue to make improvements so it can be used in other fields, such as medicine and banking.

The central city of Da Nang has maintained its leading position in terms of readiness for Information and Communications Technology (ICT) development and application, topping the Vietnam ICT Index rankings for another year. This was the 12th consecutive year it had secured first place in the ratings of Vietnam’s 63 cities and provinces, according to a report of the Vietnam Association for Information Processing (VAIP) and the Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) Department of Information Technology.

Da Nang ranked fifth in the national IT Industry Index, after Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi, and the northern Bac Ninh and Thai Nguyen provinces, and among the top five in the sale and distribution of IT products and services, together with Hanoi, Can Tho, HCM City, and the Mekong Delta’s Long An province, according to reports.

The result is expected to lay a basis for the city to move to the next level in its digital transformation process. During the 2021-2025 period, the city plans to ready itself in terms of infrastructure and databases for the full implementation of its smart city efforts and connection to the ASEAN smart city network. It will continue to promote the use of technologies from the fourth industrial revolution (4IR) in enterprises and society.

Da Nang looks to build a synchronous telecoms infrastructure system along with regional and inter-regional core networks and expand the 5G mobile coverage to the entire city and broadband connection to all enterprises and households. It will also upgrade the e-government platform, complete the Local Government Service Platform (LGSP), and connect with the National Government Service Platform (NGSP) for sharing data with ministries and central agencies.

The city will put into operation a data service portal to provide information from the municipal government to the public and businesses. It aims to have at least 30% of online public services using digital signatures in administrative procedures and have 100% of public services performed online at the third and fourth levels.

Da Nang was the first city in Vietnam to launch an e-Government system, in 2014, and transferred this system to 16 cities and provinces around the country in 2016. A report revealed that Da Nang’s e-government system had been used by 225 agencies and 4,000 users.

The city had provided 1,200 online administration procedures, including one-stop shops, residential management, public transport, and water supervision, through the e-government system, while free wireless internet services offer a maximum of 20,000 connections in public places, according to the city’s information and communications department.

The city’s IT infrastructure is available for smart connections for air control, water, garbage, meteorology, and energy agencies. It can also provide earthquake and tsunami warnings, and data on flooding, erosion, sewage management, and food safety.

Launched in Vietnam in 2005 and based on UN criteria, the Vietnam ICT Index assesses technical infrastructure, human resource infrastructure, IT application, online public services delivery, and the IT industry in cities and provinces. It has secured a prestigious reputation over the years and serves as a foundation for the ministry and local authorities to adopt suitable policies to develop the ICT sector and the IT industry nationwide.

The Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) wants people to wear a tracking wristband during and after their concentrated quarantine period. The bracelet has been developed by Vietnamese enterprises using GPS (global positioning system) technology to record users’ locations. It has a 30-day battery and can send an alert if people leave quarantine areas. The estimated production cost is US$35. Temperature monitoring and usage status are the two main functions of the bracelet.

According to a press release, it can also discover close contacts using Bluetooth technology. It has the same operating mechanism as tracing applications. It monitors whether a quarantined individual is complying with regulations based on GPS technology. Experts note that depending on the pandemic control strategy applied, one of these two technologies (or both in some cases) is used. Singapore, for example, has been using a device to discover close contacts and a device to support quarantine supervision.

Hong Kong has decided to attach electronic bracelets to all travellers entering the special administrative region for medical supervision during a two-week quarantine in an effort to stop the spread of the virus. The bracelet is connected with a smartphone app used to control quarantine at home.

MIC believes that deploying foreign technology could lead to problems in mastering and customising the solutions to Vietnamese conditions. Moreover, Vietnam would depend on the production capacity of partners, which would affect Vietnam’s COVID-19 prevention and control plan. MIC further added that enterprises can organise production quickly, and data would be stored in the country. If the bracelet plan is approved, enterprises just need four weeks to research, customise products to fit the requirements, and organise mass production.

Do Cong Anh from the Authority of Information Technology Application (AITA) noted that MIC proposed the idea to the Steering Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control. AITA said the agency has worked with technology transport firms on a mechanism for information sharing. If the Steering Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control sends telephone numbers that need to be traced, the firms will send results about the departure and destinations of the owners.

The agency is also working with the firms on a mechanism to help bring people from concentrated quarantine areas to their places of residence. The apps for medical declarations have been an effective tool to prevent and control COVID-19. However, some people do not have smartphones. Many people are required to make declarations when they check-in at new destinations, and some people do not know where to submit them. As a result, many people do not complete their health declarations.

At an online conference of the Steering Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control with the Bac Ninh and Bac Giang, the committee stressed the importance of medical declarations from people who have relations with people living in COVID-19 epicentres, people going to hospitals, and flying on planes. Medical declarations are being used throughout the country but are being applied in inconsistent ways, Anh stated. He said that because many people do not make medical declarations via apps but instead call government departments to make declarations, AITA has set up a hotline in charge of receiving declarations. Also, VNPT set up a free hotline where people can receive guidance to choose appropriate declaration forms. AITA has added a declaration code that will require people to update their status within 24 hours. If they do not, they will be discovered when going through security check.

The largest telecom operators in Vietnam, state-run organisation Viettel and Vinaphone and Mobifone, are betting on 5G services and digital platforms to increase revenues amid a saturation of traditional services. In early May, the Viettel Cyberspace Centre officially put into operation a high-performance computing system that enables both the development and operation of more complicated artificial intelligence (AI) models. It will meet rising computing demands by the end of the decade – at which point Vietnam aims to become an innovation powerhouse in Southeast Asia.

Nguyen Dinh Chien, Deputy General Director of Viettel said that Viettel’s investment in AI will allow the group to unleash its creativity and attract top-tier AI experts. Viettel and other telecom operators have been facing a fall in revenues in mobile services in recent years, according to a press release. In 2020, Viettel and MobiFone saw almost no significant increase in revenues of the mobile voice service segment. Meanwhile, revenues from data services rose strongly.

Currently, mobile data charges in Vietnam are among the lowest worldwide, equal to just 30% of that in India. This is a concern as 5G is now available in the country. According to Nguyen Phong Nha, Deputy Head of the Telecommunications Department under the Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC), mobile operators are facing pressure on revenues from older telecommunications services as traditional voice and text communications are being replaced with more cutting-edge technology.

Internet services do not create as much profit as expected due to their growing popularity and decreasing charges. Traditional telecom service providers should enlarge business operations, thus enabling them to have new sources of revenue.  In the wake of this, Vinaphone, Viettel, and MobiFone are rushing to get licenses for 5G network testing. Last December, Vinaphone became the first to receive a license for the commercialisation of 5G in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. Since then, Vinaphone has been developing the necessary infrastructure to widen 5G coverage.

The trial run of 5G services in the country is also helping VNPT realise the application of new technologies for smart cities and enterprises. Elsewhere, together with a high-performance computing system, Viettel plans to deploy 5G on non-standalone architecture and trial 5G on standalone architecture by 2022, together with an array of new services.

In February, over 17,000 Viettel mobile subscribers registered with the company’s 5G promotional package. In the fourth quarter of 2021, 30 major cities and provinces, industrial parks, and urban areas will be covered with 5G. And by 2025, Viettel will deploy 5G on a wider scale towards reaching national coverage by 2026.

Thus far, Viettel has also invested in the development of digital platforms, including the Viettel AI Open platform, Viettel Cyberbot, Viettel Data Mining Platform, and Viettel AI Camera for Transportation, among several others. It is estimated that by 2025, 5G will make up around 20% of the world’s total number of mobile subscriptions.

Vietnam needs to foster rapid and sustainable digital transformation but, at the same time, must ensure cybersecurity and safety, the Deputy Minister of Information and Communications (MIC) Nguyen Huy Dung recently stated. Digital transformation and cybersecurity and safety are two aspects of a development trend, he told a teleconference with localities last week. The conference aimed at bolstering their capacity in managing and implement digital transformation and information safety. The government issued the National Digital Transformation Programme in 2020, he said, and 2021 is a year of action to accelerate the process in all fields.

According to a report, he noted that digital transformation includes three main pillars: a digital government, a digital economy, and a digital society. During the digital transformation process, at the central level, the Ministry of Information and Communications is the national coordinating agency performing the functions and tasks of state management and law enforcement on national digital transformation, e-government, and digital government development.

At the local level, the Departments of Information and Communications will lead digital transformation in their provinces. It is necessary to determine which information systems must have cyber security and safety guaranteed at all costs, Dung stressed, adding that other information systems will be guaranteed in the way of risk management. Vietnam has some 60,000 digital technology enterprises and the sector needs to mobilise all to address common problems in digital transformation facing the country and localities, he added.

In the first quarter of 2021, the Department of Information Security recorded 1,271 cyber-attacks on information systems in Vietnam, a reduction of 20% compared to the same period last year. Of a total of 1,271 cyber-attacks causing incidents to information systems during this period, the number of malware attacks was the highest, with 623 cases. The numbers of phishing and deface attacks were 449 and 199, respectively. The number of cyber-attacks causing incidents on information systems in the country decreased by 20% year on year, but it slightly increased from January through March, as OpenGov Asia reported.

In March, the Department of Information Security recorded 491 cyber-attacks, an increase of 8.15% compared to that in February 2021, including 180 malware attacks, 164 phishing, and 147 deface attacks. The total number of cyber-attacks on local systems was 326 in January 2021, up 3.49% from the previous month. This figure in February 2021 was 454, an increase of 39.26% compared to January.

As per the Department of Information Security, after eight consecutive months of decline, in March 2021, the number of Vietnamese IP addresses in botnets increased slightly, to around 1 million addresses, an increase of 11.34% compared to February 2021.

However, in the first quarter of 2021, the number of Vietnamese IP addresses in botnets decreased by 37.44% compared to the first quarter of 2020 and by 14.39% compared to the fourth quarter of 2020. In the first two months of this year, Vietnam’s telecom carriers stopped more than 22,000 spam calls. From July 2020 to February 2021, the Department of Telecommunications cooperated with Viettel, VNPT, and MobiFone to deploy a technology solution to screen 111,694 calls and cancel scammer-owned subscriptions.

The Ministry has set goals to provide 5G coverage nationwide in 2022 and increase the number of digital enterprises from 58,000 to 100,000 by 2025, according to the Minister of Information and Communications (MIC) Nguyen Manh Hung. In Vietnam, MIC has licensed domestic telecom operators like VNPT, Viettel, and MobiFone to provide 5G services. They have been officially developing their networks to enable 5G services since last December.

The Ministry’s new mission is to lead the national digital transformation process to build a digital Vietnam, including a digital government and economy, and eventually a digital society, according to the Minister. He made the statement at a working session with Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh earlier this week. Another objective of the ministry’s immediate tasks is to propose amendments to laws on the post, telecommunications, and e-transactions to “enrich contents” on the digital economy and infrastructure, according to a press release.

Minister Nguyen Manh Hung said that the digital economy, which accounted for 8.2% of Vietnam’s GDP in 2020, will open up a new space for the country’s economic growth. Vietnam expects to raise the GDP share of the digital economy by 20% within the next five years.

In 2018, a report by Google and Temasek referred to Vietnam’s digital economy as a “dragon being unleashed.” Two years later, the same report put Vietnam and Indonesia as countries at the forefront of Southeast Asia’s digital economy growth. Speaking at the session, PM Pham urged the Ministry to mobilise all resources for the development of strategic infrastructures and spearhead sectors.

Last month, MIC announced it is gathering ideas for a draft circular on a national technical regulation on 5G user equipment-the part of Radio Access to control the overall quality. Global mobile giants are subject to new applications.

OpenGov Asia reported that the draft circular comes amid a rising availability of user devices, both made domestically and imported, and growing demands for 5G services in line with international practices. According to MIC statistics on end-user trends in the last five years, the use of traditional mobile services and SMS tended to fall, while data-based services tended to rise, thus bringing about more opportunities for domestic and international businesses in the field.

At present, territorial mobile terminal devices are being managed via the certificate of conformity and declaration of conformity. Technologies related to 5G currently under assessment include, among others:

  • The new global standard New Radio for a unified and more capable 5G wireless air interface.
  • A virtualisation method through software-defined networking, which allows administrators to control and change the networks remotely.
  • Network Function Virtualisation, another 5G-enabling technique.

As the country is currently taking the final steps for the issuance of the national technical regulation, the question about the possible impacts on telecom and mobile device suppliers is being raised, with industry insiders giving controversial signals. Popular mobile terminal device manufacturers like Apple, Samsung, and Nokia have announced conformity to technical specifications for their devices. Apple produces mobile terminal devices like iPhones, iPads, and iWatchs, among others. Meanwhile, the company already announced its declaration of conformity for 5G radio interfaces. Samsung also made its declaration of conformity for mobile phones based on the draft regulation 3GPP TS 38.521.

Hanoi is working on a plan to form a technology trading platform – a move considered critical for the development of the science-technology market in the capital and Vietnam as a whole. The municipal People’s Committee has identified the market as a component of the economy with a key role to play in promoting technological invention and innovation.

According to a report, Deputy Director of the municipal Department of Science and Technology, Nguyen Quoc Ha, said that although many significant strides forward have been made, the science-technology market in the capital has yet to match the city’s potential. He pointed out that technology providers such as research institutes, universities, enterprises, and individuals still lack experience in marketing. They also have little understanding about demand, while those with demand for the products lack information about suppliers.

Vu Anh Tuan, Deputy Director of the National Agency for Science and Technology Information, under the Ministry of Science and Technology, noted that setting up a network of technology trading platforms in Hanoi, central Da Nang city, and Ho Chi Minh City has fallen short of expectations. The network was one of the three objectives of the government’s programme to develop the science-technology market by 2020.  Therefore, in the time ahead, Hanoi needs to establish a platform of this kind to encourage technology trading and help fuel the science-technology market in both the capital and the country, he said.

Hoang Ba Tien, a representative from the Vietnam National Seed Group (VINASEED), said his company always has a demand for new seedling technologies. However, technology transactions have been conducted mainly via advisory units or introductions by scientists themselves. He said that the company does not have anywhere to connect with or proactively seek the products it needs. It is necessary to have a technology trading platform to access related information to serve production and business activities.

The resolution from the 17th Hanoi Party Congress pointed out the necessity of continuing to prioritise the development of the science-technology market. Forming a technology trading platform for Hanoi and a national technology exchange connected with the world’s major tech hubs are other tasks for the municipal Party Committee. The tasks fall under its programme to develop science, technology, and innovation during 2021-2025.

Ha said the Department of Science and Technology is completing a plan on the building and operation of Hanoi’s technology exchange. Accordingly, it will operate both physically and online. The physical platform will display technological products and provide a venue for suppliers and buyers to meet. The online version will act as an e-commerce platform for trading technologies and equipment, a platform for advisory and brokerage activities, and a database on scientific and technological advances.

The transaction value of Vietnam’s science-technology market posted average annual growth of 22% during the 2011-2020 period. Vietnam ranked 42nd among 131 economies in the 2020 Global Innovation Index (GII). Among those making the most significant progress in their GII innovation ranking over time, Vietnam led 29 lower-middle-income countries and was third in Southeast Asia. Last year, it moved up 13 places from the previous year to 59th in the rankings of 100 economies with the best start-up ecosystems.

Vietnam’s Prime Minister, Pham Minh Chinh, recently urged the Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) to finalise and submit a national strategy on developing the digital economy and society by August this year. According to a press release, several other countries have already introduced strategies and programmes on digital transformation in a bid to optimise opportunities from the fourth industrial revolution (Industry 4.0).

In Vietnam, the digital economy and society have been growing rapidly, supported by the well-developed telecom and IT foundation, high Internet coverage, and a huge number of Internet users. The country is located at the centre of the Southeast Asian region and is poised to be a global hub of digital technology and the digital economy.

However, the country is coping with several limitations, including a favourable legal system for the digital economy, and especially a strategy on digital economy and digital society. The new strategy is expected to set a sound direction for ministries, sectors, and localities to get involved in the field.

In 2020, Vietnam kicked off a national digital transformation programme, under which the country will renovate management and administration activities of the government, production and business activities of enterprises, and the overall way of living and working. It aims to develop a safe, humane, and wide digital environment. The national digital transformation programme has the dual purpose of both developing the digital government and economy and establishing Vietnamese digital businesses with a global capacity.

In a press statement, MIC Minister, Nguyen Manh Hung, said that if Industry 4.0 is considered an institutional revolution, with changes in management and business models, Vietnam has many opportunities. It will be the revolution of new technologies in physics, biology, artificial intelligence, big data, IoT, and 3D printing, which can create landmark changes in the way people live. The Politburo has issued Resolution 52, which defines eight groups of policies for Vietnam to actively participate in the Industrial Revolution 4.0:

  • Renewing thinking, unifying awareness, strengthening the Party’s leadership, State management over the Industrial Revolution 4.0
  • Perfecting institutions to facilitate the 4th Industrial Revolution and digital transformation
  • Developing essential infrastructure, especially digital infrastructure
  • Developing the national innovation capacity
  • Human resource development
  • Developing priority industries and technologies
  • International integration
  • Promoting digital transformation

Vietnam’s digital economy will likely reach US$52 billion in value by 2025, as OpenGov Asia had reported. With the gross merchandise value (GMV) of its Internet economy accounting for over 5% of the country’s GDP in 2019, Vietnam is emerging as the most digital of all economies in the region.

Last year, the Vietnamese internet economy continued to record double-digit growth, at 16% year-on-year, the highest in Southeast Asia. All sectors except travel continued to grow in 2020, of which transport and food, and online media grew 50% and 18% compared to 2019. Only online travel dropped 28% in terms of GMV but is expected to grow 25% by 2025. This year’s seismic consumer and ecosystem shifts have advanced the Internet sector in unimaginable ways, putting it in a stronger position than ever.

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