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The Vietnamese Government Office and the Embassy of Japan in Vietnam recently co-hosted an online seminar in Hanoi, which shared Japan’s experiences and policies to promote e-government, towards a digital government.

The event virtually brought together experts from Japan and 23 cities and provinces in Vietnam. It was chaired by the Minister and Chairman of the Vietnamese Government Office, Mai Tien Dung, and the Japanese Ambassador to Vietnam, Takio Yamada.

Addressing the seminar, Dung said it is the third event of this kind and forms part of Japan’s activities to support Vietnam in building e-government. In the context of social distancing measures to curb the spread of COVID-19, the use of information technology (IT), artificial intelligence (AI), and digital technologies is crucial to sustain the normal functioning of the Vietnamese economy.

During the event, specialists from Japan discussed Suga’s new policies in developing digital government and shared experience in digitalising public services as well as formulating policies for the application of AI.

Vietnam has developed and operated a number of the e-government’s key information and database systems, which have not only promoted a new way of working at governmental units but also facilitated the delivery of online public services to businesses and people, he said.

These systems have allowed society to save up to about VND9.8 trillion (US$426 million), in expenditure annually. The Minister further noted that such success would not be possible without the help of the government of Japan through the Japanese Embassy in Vietnam, Japan’s Cabinet Office, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

E-government development must ensure a close connection between IT application, public administrative reforms, and improvement in transparency and publicity. The satisfaction of people and businesses is among key factors to measure the e-government building.

Ambassador Yamada highlighted the significance of e-government and digital government at the time of COVID-19, saying the use of digital technologies at many administrative bodies in Vietnam enables the delivery of a variety of online public services with added values and no direct contact.

He said he is impressed by Vietnam’s proactive response to the pandemic with the quick rollout of a contact-tracing app NCOVI. E-government is also one of the top priorities of Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga. The Japanese government will continue adopting more cooperation programmes to assist Vietnam’s reforms in the coming time.

In 2019, the Vietnamese Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) held the first joint coordination committee meeting on information security.

OpenGov Asia reported on the event, during which the two sides decided to strengthen support for a project that raises awareness about information security and law enforcement capacities for the same in Vietnam. Around the world, network security is the most important problem while digitalising and implementing e-government that creates a digital economy.

Over the last few years, MIC’s cybersecurity units have worked closely with Japan and shared their experiences. At the meeting, the two sides discussed the project implementation progress and exchanged ideas and technology solutions.

Vietnam has launched a new portal dedicated to dealing with fake news. The Vietnam Anti Fake News Centre (VAFC) was built and is operated by the Ministry of Information and Communications’ Authority of Broadcasting and Electronic Information.

The organisation has been tasked with receiving online reports of fake news. The portal defines fake news as inaccurate, untested, censored information, appearing incorrectly in content, and spread via the Internet and other media.

According to a news report, the portal spots and discredits fake news and publishes correct information. The portal also actively detects information trends with a large number of sharing and interacting to evaluate, appraise, and label possible fake news. It also offers instructions on how to recognise, prevent, and deal with fake news.

All individuals and organisations can also reflect on fake news through the switchboard 18008108 operated by Viettel Group, with guidance on how to report fake news provided when connecting to the hotline.

At the launching held in Hanoi on 12 January, a representative from the VAFC called for support from the relevant authorities at all levels, especially press agencies, to assess information and detect fake news, helping prevent and repel bad news and maintain a healthy network environment.

In addition to curbing the spread of fake news, the government has created policies for its ministries and private players to detect and block spam. Five major mobile service providers – Viettel, VinaPhone, MobiFone, Vietnamobile, and the virtual network I-Telecom blocked more than 89,600 mobile subscribers spreading spam calls in the last six months of 2020, according to the Department of Telecom under the Ministry of Information and Communications.

In December 2020 alone, the providers handled 17,290 subscribers: 7,844 by Viettel (45%), 7,301 by VinaPhone (42%), 1,155 by MobiFone (7%), 868 by I-Telecom (5%), and 122 by Vietnamobile (1%).

A representative from the department said that in the future, it will work closely with the mobile service suppliers to enhance the public and businesses’ awareness of spam numbers and spam messages, encouraging them to use registered SIM cards.

Spam calls and messages are delivered mostly to advertise products and services, such as offers to sell houses, apartments, and condotels, and include invitations to buy insurance policies, use financial services, and register for English training courses.

The subjects that deliver spam calls and messages use sophisticated technical measures that change regularly to deceive appropriate agencies. Earlier last July, the department coordinated with the subscribers to launch a number of technical solutions using big data and machine learning to identify subscribers with signs of spreading spam calls and messages.

In August 2020, the government issued a decree on the measures to prevent and reduce spam messages, emails, and calls. These included building anti-spam systems and developing criteria to identify spam. Monitoring and sharing information and databases on sources of spam and collecting and handling complaints.

Further, the government claimed it would supervise advertising service provision via text messages, emails, and calls; prevent and revoke electronic addresses spreading spam; strengthen domestic coordination and international cooperation; and raise awareness about spam prevention.

Within the final months of 2020, all three major mobile carriers in Vietnam announced trials of commercial 5G services, making Vietnam one of the first countries in the world to roll out the latest generation of wireless technology. This is expected to boost the digital economy.

According to a news report, unlike previous technologies most of which had to be imported, Vietnam has gradually mastered and is now capable of producing 5G equipment, a strategically important step in Vietnam’s development of information and communications technology.

State-run enterprise Viettel was the pioneer in announcing commercial 5G trials in late November with coverage in the Hoan Kiem, Ba Dinh, and Hai Ba Trung Districts of Hanoi. Owners of 5G-enabled devices can now use the service for free at a speed of up to 1.5 gigabits per second, far higher than 4G.

Later in mid-December, Vinaphone announced its 5G coverage in some central districts in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City as well as two demonstration centres, enabling residents without 5G devices to experience the new technological features. The third provider, Mobifone, also quickly caught up by piloting commercial 5G services in Ho Chi Minh City.

However, industry experts have noted that the mobile carriers’ rush to roll out 5G services at this time is merely a competition between brands and does not precisely reflect what the domestic telecommunications market will look like in the future.

With 3G and 4G technologies, Vietnam was a latecomer, but with 5G, Vietnam is one of the frontrunners. Although the trials are just an initial step in the long process to widespread rollout, the carriers’ efforts have demonstrated the local communications sector’s capacity and readiness to provide the new technologies to the people, the report noted.

With exceptionally fast speeds, low latency, and high density (up to one million devices in one square kilometre), 5G is expected to revolutionise the fields of advanced technology, healthcare, transport, and education. It will lay the foundation for Vietnam to master and apply new technologies as well as succeed in its national digital transformation drive.

5G will bring with its tremendous opportunities in the future but quite a few challenges as well. First of all, carriers face a risk that 5G-enabled devices have not yet been widely popular with consumers at the time of mass rollout and that 5G business models are as of yet not proven to be effective. Further, the demand for this technology is not yet very high, making carriers find it hard to balance costs and benefits.

The fourth industrial revolution is taking place at a rapid pace around the world and 5G is one of the key technologies in this revolution thanks to its high speeds and low latency, essential to many sectors. Therefore, countries should take advantage of this opportunity and Vietnam is also taking proactive steps to get on-board the 5G train.

Vietnam has certain advantages as it can produce many types of equipment and infrastructure necessary for 5G. The Ministry of Information and Communications has affirmed that mastering 5G equipment is strategically significant nationally and Vietnam is one of the few countries capable of doing so. From now on, Vietnam will actively act as a pioneer alongside the rest of the world with regards to technology, helping further stimulate the communications sector, making an even greater contribution to the country’s socio-economic development.

Construction of the National Innovation Centre (NIC) officially kicked off in Hanoi on 9 January, along with the opening of an international exhibition displaying the year’s leading innovations.

Addressing the event, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc stressed that innovation has become the key to Vietnam’s success and plays an important role in socio-economic development strategies devised by most nations and territories. With the rapid development of the fourth industrial revolution, the country must swiftly adapt and take firm steps to implement a plan.

According to a news report, the Minister of Planning and Investment Nguyen Chi Dung said that the NIC aims to host domestic and foreign technology firms and provide the optimal infrastructure system for the research and development of technological and start-up ideas.

The centre will promote investment and speed up the commercialisation of technological products. He underlined that the NIC will help facilitate the formation of innovative centres in localities and regions, making important contributions to the restructuring of the economy and the transformation of the country’s growth model, improving the efficiency and competitiveness of the Vietnamese economy.

Approved by the Prime Minister in 2019, the National Innovation Centre (NIC), worth VND740 billion (US$32 million), is located in Hoa Lac hi-tech park on the outskirts of Hanoi.

The centre, covering an area of 35 hectares, is set up under the Prime Minister’s Decision No.1269/QD-TTg to support and develop the nation’s start-ups and innovation ecosystems, contributing to the growth models based on science and technology.

It is expected to house domestic and international innovative businesses, laboratories, offices of large corporations, as well as be a working place for leading experts and scientists.

The PM highlighted the country’s achievements in 2020, saying that Vietnam has received official recognition as a dynamic economy in Asia, with an annual GDP growth rate of 6.3% over the past decade. Last year, Vietnam was ranked one of the 16 most successful emerging economies that achieved the dual goal of epidemic prevention and economic recovery. This can be seen through the positive growth of 2.9%, making Vietnam among a group of nations to record the highest growth rate in the world.

The PM attributed the success to the country’s efforts in applying technological advances to production and business activities, serving to create added value to the national economy. As part of the strategy to turn the country into a developed and high-income nation by 2045, PM Phuc said Vietnam must rely on knowledge, science, and technology, especially innovation, all of which can be considered important factors for growth.

Most notably, it is the use of new technology coupled with suitable human resources that will be the decisive factor for long-term growth, the key to achieving development breakthroughs, and helping the country to get out of the middle-income trap, PM Phuc explained.

He added that the commencement of the National Innovation Centre project will create an ideal condition for the local innovation ecosystem to develop and reach out across the globe. He also expressed his hope that the centre will be soon come into operation in order to become a pioneering model that can be promoted nationwide.

The Vietnam International Innovation Expo, the first of its kind in the country, has attracted the participation of 113 local businesses, 22 foreign-invested firms, and 21 institutions to showcase new products and technology models across 156 booths.

Technology-driven models are of primary interest among international and domestic businesses and investors in different sectors over the year, ranging from e-commerce and education to healthcare and banking.

According to a press release, in the banking and financial sector, fintech is rising with the United Kingdom, in particular, recognising the advantages in the country. As a leading global fintech hub, British companies are keen on plans to expand investment into the sector in Vietnam.

With growing interest, sci-tech and ICT have continued to be among the most attractive sectors to international investors and businesses in Vietnam during the year, despite the pandemic. As shown in statistics from the Ministry of Planning and Investment, Vietnam’s total registered FDI in sci-tech and ICT hit about US$1.25 billion in the first 11 months of 2020.

As the COVID-19 pandemic hit, several companies came to a screeching halt, with the rest having to think about new changes to survive- technology-based businesses have become the most sought after solution.

South Korea, Europe, Japan, Singapore, and others have been anticipating new opportunities from Vietnam’s acceleration of digital transformation, with ICT now playing an increasing role in the country’s economic development. According to the Ministry of Information and Communications, the country’s total ICT revenue reached over US$112 billion in 2019.

Moreover, Vietnam has made huge strides in accelerating its national digital transformation this year by issuing a number of policies in this field. In fact, the country’s tech market has been a magnet for international businesses and venture funds even before 2020. According to Singaporean-based VC firm Cento Ventures, for the first time, investment in Vietnamese start-ups has even exceeded Singapore. Funding for Vietnamese-based start-ups accounted for 18% of the total investment in the region, or US $741 million, in 2019 – a huge jump from a year earlier when it only accounted for 4%, or US$287 million.

This trend has now been further reinforced with the approval of the National Digital Transformation Programme by 2025 with a vision towards 2030, and other targets. Under this programme, the country has set the target to be named among the 50 leading countries in e-government by 2030; for the digital economy to make up 30% of GDP; and for people to be able to experience smart services in healthcare, education, banking and finance, transport, environmental protection, and energy supply.

In line with the approval, ministries, agencies, and provinces have been deploying digital transformation by building new policies and developing infrastructure to tap into their own advantages and specific characteristics.

Additionally, this is also backed by the country’s new FDI attraction strategy with high-tech as a focus to offer incentives and supporting policies, as well as the Politburo’s Resolution No.52-NQ/TW issued in 2019 on guidelines and policies to proactively participate in Industry 4.0. This includes the establishment of the Vietnam National Innovation Centre, which will offer special incentives for investment projects at the facility.

The National Strategy on the Fourth Industrial Revolution will focus on investing in advanced technology, developing infrastructure and e-government, and building on the performance of tech-related commitments in free trade agreements. It is expected to continue to drive a new business and investment wave in the months to come.

Industry insiders have noted that all of these factors motivate companies, prompting the business community to venture further into the technology market. This transformation is expected to continue at a faster speed, generating big impacts for a digital government, economy, and society.

Vietnam now ranks 21st globally in terms of the development of artificial intelligence (AI), which is expected to contribute 12% to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). Many local digital firms have stayed abreast of AI development trends in the world and introduced several high-quality products.

According to a press release, among these are AI cameras, developed based on Vietnam’s Open AI View technology. They have recently been shipped to the United States, proving that Vietnamese technology products boast the confidence of international players. It also opens up opportunities for Vietnam to build a national brand for AI products.

During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, apps like Bluezone and CoMeet were open-source or developed with open-source software. The country also launched the national open data portal, which has registered over 10,000 data sets. Vietnam’s 5G network will use the open standard Open RAN. Vietnam has chosen to develop open technology, open-source software, and open data for individuals and businesses to join the creation of new values.

The development of AI depends largely on open sources and Vietnam is still new to the field. An enabling ecosystem with open sources that are accessible for every player is, therefore, necessary for the country to develop AI products. Such open sources are expected to foster bonds among players in the AI field, making them go further and faster in the digital era. For open sources to be introduced successfully, however, state authorities must introduce appropriate mechanisms and policies.

According to industry experts, AI in Vietnam is only in the early stages and still has plenty of room for development with proper attention given to open sources. Nearly 3 million organisations and businesses from 70 countries have joined the open-source community. 35 out of 50 top companies in the world sent their teams to participate in the open-source projects in the forum. Vietnam ranks third in Southeast Asia and is among the top 20 in the world in open-source applications, after Singapore (17), and Malaysia (18).

Vietnam began approaching the open technology trend early in the 2000s, but it is still behind some countries, which is attributed to the closed culture, the localisation of data, and lack of interest from large corporations.

In November, the Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) organised the Vietnam Open Summit. OpenGov Asia reported on the event, which gathered 200 participants, including senior officials of ministries and agencies, as well as IT experts from large high-tech corporations.

The nation has been on its digital ambitions that are well articulated in its National Digital Transformation Programme.  Strategies have been put in place to ensure Vietnam’s digital economy accounts for 20% of the nation’s GDP. By 2025, Vietnam aims to be one of the 50 leading countries for IT development. By 2030, it targets to be among the 30 leading IT countries in the world, universalise fibre and 5G cables, have 100,000 digital technology businesses, and have a workforce of 1.5 million people trained in digital technology.

Digital transformation in the health sector will better serve the people by increasing quality and convenience in medical services, the Minister of Health, Nguyen Thanh Long, recently said at the plenary session of the Vietnam Health Sector’s Digital Conversion Conference.

Despite having to fight the COVID-19 epidemic, the health sector has made solid efforts in digital transformation, initially recording encouraging results. Specifically, in the administrative field, 100% of administrative procedures in the sector are online at level 4, the highest of Vietnam’s online public service system. Further, all documents at the Ministry of Health are electronically processed and use digital signatures.

According to a news report, regarding the prevention of COVID-19, the Minister noted that there are many lessons for successful epidemic prevention, one of which is to focus on promoting the application of IT. Several software applications have been created to fight the virus. Vietnam was the first country in the world to apply electronic medical declarations to facilitate tracing and zoning work.

One of the most impressive initiatives was the deployment of a remote examination and treatment system, which helped people in different regions access high-quality medical services. Within 45 days, the Ministry of Health, in collaboration with other related units, opened 1,000 remote medical service venues. By the end of this year, there were 1,500.

Long added that the system will connect all medical facilities across the country. By 2025, the Ministry expects that 100% of health facilities will participate in the remote medical examination and treatment system, including the private health providers.

At the conference, the Vietnam Medical Network, the V20 Grassroots Medical Platform, and the Electronic Health Record Platform were officially launched. The first platform is an internal social network made by Vietnamese experts to help connect health workers across the nation to share their expertise.

V20 is software for grassroots medical management that will come into use this month, applied to nearly 12,000 clinics across the country to eliminate paperwork. With this software, departments of health can survey all the data of commune health stations in their localities, while the Ministry of Health can also refer to the data.

The e-health record platform will help better manage the health records of patients nationwide with nearly 98 million records being updated regularly by health authorities. According to the Minister, from July 2021, all outpatients will have to have electronic personal health records, and paper copies will be completely removed.

In November 2020, the Ministry of Health officially launched the Vietnam Public Health Portal to publicise medical information towards an open, transparent health sector as well as providing the best health care for the people. The portal provides information across five public areas, including pharmacy and cosmetics, medical equipment, food safety, examination and treatment, and public administration.

As OpenGov Asia reported, through the Public Health Portal, people can exercise their right to inform themselves and monitor services provided by the health sector, certain aspects are revolutionary in the medical sector, such as the portal, which will make a huge amount of information, including medical service fees open to the public.

Currently, 1,490 medical facilities and hospitals nationwide have publicly announced their service prices. Shortly, the Ministry will require all clinics to publicise their medical service fees and their quality levels, as well as patients’ satisfaction assessments

The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) of the Vietnam Authority of Information Security has announced the top outstanding cybersecurity events in 2020. According to a press release, even though the country had to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic, it still fulfilled the tasks of its ASEAN 2020 chairmanship well. The country successfully organised a series of unprecedented online events at international and regional stature, including tens of events as the ASEAN Chair, and the 37th ASEAN Summit, the 41st General Assembly of the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA-41), and ITU Digital World 2020.

The great success of the events was partially created by cybersecurity experts from the Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC), Ministry of Public Security, Ministry of National Defence, and firms providing services.

All ministries, branches, localities deployed SOC with NCSC connections

The fact that all government organisations have implemented the Security Operation Centre (SOC) and have technical connections with the National Counterintelligence and Security Centre (NCSC) show progress in information security at agencies and units when deploying the four-layer model as instructed by the government, the release noted. SOC allows agencies to take the initiative in ensuring cybersecurity.

Scanning, handling of malware campaign applied in entire the Vietnamese cyberspace

The campaign was deployed by NCSC in cooperation with businesses of the Alliance for malware prevention and handling of cyberattacks and international businesses.

Carried out via the portal from September to December, the campaign was implemented concurrently in all provinces and cities from local to central levels. The campaign achieved the goal of reducing 50% of malware infections and reducing Vietnam’s IP addresses in botnet networks by half.

WhiteHat Grand Prix 06

Several national and international cybersecurity competitions were organised, including WhiteHat Grand Prix 06 and the ASEAN student contest on information security. The competitions have contributed to promoting and developing cybersecurity human resources in Vietnam. Most of the competitions were sponsored by MIC.

Vietnam announced requirements on technical specifications for terminals, base stations, and 5G network service quality.

The popularity of 5G technology will create far-reaching breakthroughs on the scale and speed of information. Vietnam is speeding up the commercialisation of 5G mobile network. MIC has determined that cybersecurity is an essential factor when implementing 5G. A legal framework for 5G cybersecurity was established, including decisions issued in September.

‘Make in Vietnam’ cybersecurity products accounted for 90%

In 2015, Vietnam-made cybersecurity products accounted for only 5%, while the figure rose to 55% in 2019. In 2020, Vietnam operated more than 90% of the ecosystem of cybersecurity products serving the Party, state agencies, and public.

DF Cyber Defense 2020

NCSC and the IEC Group organised Banking Tech 2020. The highlight of the event was DF Cyber Defense, the drill for mock cyberattacks. 30 businesses and organisations in the fields of finance (banking, insurance, and securities) participated.

Government measures to prevent spam

Decree 91 on preventing and fighting spam SMS, messages, and calls was released in August. Many measures were taken to implement the decree. Mobile network operators ran systems to prevent and filter spam messages. The government handled subscribers delivering spam calls and discovered and blocked fake calls.

Online phishing prevention  

Online phishing cases rose in 2020 as countries were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and were required to communicate online. This led to an increase in scams, especially via telecom and social networks.

APT attacks targeted popular software products

A wide range of popular products, software, and applications had critical vulnerabilities. Hackers took advantage and launched various cyberattacks. Vietnam discovered and prevented a series of intentional offensive campaigns.

Singapore OpenGov Leadership Forum 2018

OpenGov Conference – A Gathering of Top Minds in Digital Transformation.