The Indian government has provided US$5 million in non-refundable aid to help the Vietnamese Ministry of National Defence build an information technology (IT) system. The system has been set up at the military software park under the centre of IT and foreign languages at the Telecommunications University.
According to a news report, on behalf of leaders of the Ministry of National Defence, Deputy Minister Senior Lieutenant General Hoang Xuan Chien received the aid at a ceremony in Hanoi on 11 August. Chien stated that the assistance is of significance as it contributes to raising the centre’s capacity and facilitating high-quality human resources development in Vietnam at large, notably in IT and foreign languages.
The Deputy Minister said that the successful implementation of the project will help to enhance bilateral defence and political ties between the two countries in the time ahead. The Indian Ambassador to Vietnam, Pranay Verma, explained that despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the two countries have worked to strengthen and expand their defence cooperation, and implemented aid and credit packages the Indian government has granted to the Vietnamese Ministry of National Defence.
Vietnam and India have maintained cooperation mechanisms and exchanges in training, the defence industry, and UN peacekeeping operations. The two sides have also provided mutual support in the pandemic combat, the ambassador added. He described the IT project as a symbol of cooperation between the two countries in high-tech development, and a foundation to expand their collaboration in IT and digitalisation in the future.
In July, OpenGov Asia reported the Indian Embassy in Hanoi had coordinated with the Vietnamese Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) to host a webinar on information and communications technology (ICT) cooperation between India and Vietnam amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. At the webinar, Indian and Vietnamese experts shared opinions and the advantages and opportunities that the two nations have in the field of ICT. Digital transformation in Vietnam, technology solutions in the COVID-19 fight, cybersecurity, and 5G technology were discussed.
Addressing the event, the Deputy Minister of Information and Communications Nguyen Huy Dung said that the webinar was an important and timely event in the context that the pandemic continues to develop complicatedly, causing severe recession for many countries. He noted that the two countries have several ideas and many experiences to share and exchange with each other in ICT, given that both sides are exerting great efforts in ICT development and application.
He told participants that in its National Digital Transformation Strategy, Vietnam is aiming to raise the share of the digital economy in national GDP to 20% by 2025 and about 30% by 2030. The Indian Ambassador Pranay Verma stated that ICT will play an important role in post-pandemic economic recovery in both countries. Both India and Vietnam have very ambitious visions in developing the ICT sector, especially during the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Therefore, this is the right time for them to seek more opportunities to raise ICT capacity for deeper cooperation, he added.
India has been deploying several technology-based solutions to ensure pandemic protocols are being followed. For instance, last month, researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology in Hyderabad (IIT-Hyderabad) developed an artificial intelligence (AI)-powered COVID-19 testing kit, COVIHOME, that can produce results in 30 minutes for both symptomatic and asymptomatic patients. The testing kit does not require RT-PCR (Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction), an expert human resource, and a BSL 2 lab facility for the extraction of RNA. It has the potential for one to take the test at home without expert supervision. The in-house samples and hospital samples were confirmed for their positivity or negativity by the RT-PCR method. The validation report confirmed the kit’s efficiency of 94.2%, sensitivity 91.3%, and specificity 98.2%.
The India Internet Governance Forum (IIGF) curtain-raiser, a precursor to IIGF has concluded. The curtain raiser ended with an insight into a roadmap for digitisation in India. IIGF will be jointly organised by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MietY), and the National Internet Exchange of India. The theme is ‘Empower India through Power of Internet’ and will include discussions on the road to digitisation in India. The salient feature of the event will be the three plenary sessions: India and Internet- India’s Digital Journey and Her Global Role, Equity, Access, and Quality; High-speed Internet for All; and Cyber Norms and Ethics in Internet Governance.
As per a government press release, the IIGF has been constituted in conformance to IGF-Paragraph 72 of the Tunis Agenda of the United Nations-based Internet Governance Forum (IGF). Through an open and inclusive process, IIGF will bring together stakeholders in the global Internet governance ecosystem, including the government, industry, civil society, and academia – as equal participants of the larger Internet governance discourse.
The objective of the curtain raiser event was to discuss the roadmap for digitisation and reaffirm India as an essential participant on the global stage by highlighting its role in international policy development on Internet governance. A government official explained that IIGF comes at an important time in the history of the evolution of the Internet in India. As the world is emerging from a pandemic, it is becoming increasingly visible that there have been disruptions and reinventions of businesses, governance, and governments across the world. The rate of digitalisation has increased and accelerated tremendously, he said.
India has around 800 million internet users at the moment, making it the largest connected nation. The press release stated that the government is committed to covering 1.2 billion people. The country still has about 400 million people outside the network and it’s important for the government to ensure that Internet connectivity is available for all. The intersection of policy framework, the emergence of cutting-edge technologies, and initiatives by private players present an exciting time for the evolution of the digital economy, an industry expert explained. The IIGF will be a step ahead in ensuring the inclusive participation of all stakeholders in harnessing the power of the Internet for economic growth.
Earlier this month, MeitY organised a workshop to create a roadmap to accelerate Internet access in currently unconnected parts of the country. The workshop, Connecting All Indians, invited public and private stakeholders, including India’s largest Internet service providers and officials from MeitY, the Department of Telecommunications, and the Ministry of Communications. As OpenGov Asia had reported, the workshop provided a platform for all the participating stakeholders to put forward their solutions to expand Internet penetration to remote corners of the country.
The event was chaired by the Minister of State for IT who laid out the government’s objectives to connect all Indians with open, safe, and trusted Internet connectivity. He noted that it is the Prime Minister’s vision through the Digital India initiative to empower all citizens with the Internet and simultaneously expand the digital economy and generate jobs.
The workshop also reviewed BharatNet, the world’s largest fibre-based rural broadband connectivity project. The workshop deliberated upon strategies to immediately cover left-out geographies, regions, and villages. BharatNet is a mission of national importance, aiming to establish a highly scalable network infrastructure that provides on-demand and affordable broadband connectivity for all households and on-demand capacity for all institutions, in partnership with state governments and the private sector.
The Indian Institute of Technology Madras’ (IIT-Madras) Robert Bosch Centre for Data Science and Artificial Intelligence (RBCDSAI) is launching the ‘RBCDSAI Industrial Consortium’ to provide information resources on cutting-edge technologies to industries working on artificial intelligence (AI).
The consortium will help industry members learn about the scientific developments and latest trends in AI and data science through broad-based interactions with the centre and its faculty. According to an official at the Institute, RBCDSAI carries out high-quality AI research and the idea is to use the industrial consortium as a means to quickly disseminate the output of the research to industry partners so that they can work together towards launching applications in the field.
As per a news report, currently, the centre offers two membership plans to the interested industries: platinum and silver. The membership plans will enable priority access to four RBCDSAI events, namely, colloquia, quarterly workshops, industry conclaves, and annual research showcases. The centre will organise two special half-day workshops on their voted topic of interest from a slate for its members. Additionally, platinum members will have a dedicated in-domain contact faculty at the centre for close interaction to seek suggestions on their industry’s plans. They will get to exclusively interact with the students to know more about their research and have early access to RBCDSAI publications, reports, datasets, and other research material.
The consortium membership will also provide enhanced interaction with the RBCDSAI research ecosystem and help develop a specialised workforce that can benefit member companies. It will act as a forum that leverages synergistic capabilities of the eventual users, solution providers, solution platform developers, and academicians, the report stated. An RBCDSAI Consortium membership is an opportunity for players to establish themselves as key players in data science and Al with the potential to secure new and significant revenue streams.
RBCDSAI is one of India’s preeminent interdisciplinary research centres for data science and AI, with 28 faculty spanning ten departments of IIT-Madras working on various aspects and applications of AI. The centre explores areas like deep learning, network analytics, reinforcement learning, natural language processing, theoretical machine learning, and ethics and fairness in AI. It also carries out applied research in multiple verticals such as financial analytics, manufacturing analytics, smart cities, systems biology, and healthcare.
In August, IIT-Madras inaugurated the country’s first consortium for virtual reality called the ‘Consortium for VR/AR/MR Engineering Mission in India’ (CAVE). The consortium comprises a group of academic institutions, industries, start-ups, and government bodies. It will enable members to create new advanced technologies and applications in virtual reality, augmented reality, XR, and haptics technology.
As OpenGov Asia reported, the consortium will promote best practices and create a dialogue with stakeholders, government policymakers, and research institutions. It aims to become a resource for industry, academia, consumers, and policymakers interested in virtual, augmented, and mixed reality. The key outcomes envisaged from CAVE include developing indigenous VR/AR/MR and haptics hardware and software and setting up a ‘VR Superhighway’ or ‘VR Corridor’ where many start-ups can work together to make India a global hub for XR and haptics needs.
Thailand’s cabinet, on 25 October 2021, approved a draft decree to regulate digital platform service businesses to maintain financial and commercial stability and to prevent damage to the public, a government spokesman said.
Such businesses, both in and outside of Thailand, will need to notify the government before operating, the spokesman said in a statement. The law will apply to various digital platform services including online marketplaces, social commerce, food delivery, space sharing, ride/car sharing and online search engines, he said. The spokesman also noted that they are all increasingly important to the economy and society, so there is a need to oversee them.
Since 1 September 2021, Thailand has followed in the footsteps of many countries in imposing a value-added tax (VAT) charge of 7% on non-resident digital service providers. It is a significant step for the country in capturing revenue created by the digitalisation of the economy.
The ‘e-service tax’ obliges non-resident digital service providers that earn over THB1.8 million per year to pay the VAT. The department expects around 100 foreign e-service providers to register to pay VAT in Thailand during the initial stage of tax enforcement.
So far, about 70 foreign e-service operators have registered, of which 20 are giant online platform operators. Since the tax is not a direct tax on income but an indirect tax via VAT, some e-service providers are likely to pass the tax burden onto customers. As such, those who pay the tax are not those e-platform operators but local end-users.
However, some doubt remains about how effective the tax scheme will be. The department is faced with several questions. How can the Revenue Department verify the amount of VAT that those foreign digital platform providers have to pay? What can the government do if they fail to pay the tax, especially when several operators have no physical presence?
E-service tax can ensure fairer treatment for local digital service providers who bear a higher cost burden as they are obliged to pay VAT. However, as the digital economy is growing, VAT collections alone might not ensure fair competition.
While other foreign businesses and investors including local digital service providers pay Thai corporate tax on income, non-resident digital service providers do not have to as they are not physically present in Thailand. So, these service providers still have an upper hand.
Digitalisation and the digital economy are continuing to grow. Figures by DataReportal show that there were 48.59 million internet users in Thailand in January 2021. The number of internet users in Thailand increased by 3.4 million (+7.4%) between 2020 and 2021. Internet penetration in Thailand stood at 69.5% in January 2021.
There were 55.00 million social media users in Thailand in January 2021. The number of social media users in Thailand increased by 3.0 million (+5.8%) between 2020 and 2021. The number of social media users in Thailand was equivalent to 78.7% of the total population in January 2021. Moreover, device ownership also grew and diversified.
These statistics highlight the fact that a growing digital economy requires a comprehensive and effective tax and regulation strategy, which is now in the works in Thailand.
Artificial intelligence is on the verge of radically altering our society and industry. The AI trend of technological singularity is rapidly growing, and it is being used in a wide range of human endeavours, including education, medicine, business, engineering, and the arts. This cutting-edge technology has been integrated into the government and business sector all around the world.
The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) emphasised that innovative technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) can help the nation thrive in a post-pandemic environment. Global challenges can be better managed through innovative technologies, and Philippine companies cannot be left behind in this regard. In a post-pandemic world, the trade undersecretary Rafaelita Aldaba stressed the importance of harnessing the power of emerging technologies for local businesses to remain competitive.
In a statement, the minister said, “while we recognise that collective efforts are instrumental in addressing challenges that are global in scale such as the pandemic, we acknowledge that innovative initiatives, like AI, must be harnessed and be placed at the core of all our endeavours to ensure that we will not only overcome overwhelming obstacles but also guarantee that our industries will remain adoptable amidst our ever-changing economic landscape.”
Innovative initiatives, for instance, AI must be harnessed and be placed at the core of all our endeavours to ensure that we will not only overcome overwhelming obstacles but also guarantee that our industries will remain adoptable amidst our ever-changing economic landscape and that they will thrive moving forward.
– Rafaelita Aldaba, Undersecretary, Department of Trade and Industry
The DTI noted that apart from being aware of innovative technologies, local firms would be able to embrace and adapt to new economic realities, which includes AI and other similar technologies. Continuing in this vein, the government through the DTI is working endlessly to reach a higher level of recent technological and innovative breakthroughs to propel the country’s economy forward and improve the competitiveness of its industries, particularly at a time when the global economy is being rocked by disruptions from all directions. DTI will host the Inclusive Innovation Industrial Strategy (I3S) to carry out its objective, which will bring together participants from government, industry, and academia.
The event will feature some of the country’s top AI experts, who will enhance and widen participants’ understanding and appreciation of this innovative technology. It will also focus on discussions surrounding the proposed National Centre for AI Research, as well as experiences and insights on the adoption of AI by businesses, particularly considering the lingering pandemic, and critical issues surrounding AI, particularly those related to ethics, governance, and regulations.
The Philippines was ranked 51st out of 132 economies in the World Intellectual Property Organisation’s (WIPO) Global Innovation Index (GII) study released last month, despite the challenges posed by Covid-19 and a decreasing budget for research and development (R&D).
OpenGov Asia recently reported on the growth of the business process outsourcing sector in recent decades. The processing of artificial intelligence is expected to be an emerging industry for the Philippines. Reporting to the President and the Nation, Department of Trade, and Industry (DTI) Secretary stated that the government and private sector are working together to expand AI technology in the country. He was confident that the Philippines could be a big data processing hub and that AI would be the next centre for excellence after BPO – which the Philippines is known for
When the DTI released the industry blueprint last May, the Philippines became one of the first 50 countries in the world to launch a national AI roadmap. The national AI roadmap aims to transform the country into an AI powerhouse in the region. AI adoption, according to a research firm, has the potential to add USD92 billion to the Philippine economy by 2030. According to the national AI roadmap, the country will establish the government-initiated National Centre for AI Research, which will be led by the private sector (NCAIR).
The DTI’s AI roadmap also seeks to provide direction on the use of AI to sustain local industries’ regional and worldwide competitiveness, as well as identify priority areas for government, industry, and broader society to invest time and resources in both research and development and technology application.
In providing guidelines and operationalising digital banking, the Financial Services Authority (OJK) has officially released the Blueprint for Digital Banking Transformation. The launching is intended to be a policy milestone in addressing the issues and risks associated with banking’s digital transformation.
The Blueprint for Digital Banking Transformation also aims to set rules for the banking industry, according to Heru Kristiyana, the Chief Executive of OJK Banking Supervision. “We will communicate the newly printed banking blueprint to all stakeholders,” he said today during the virtual introduction of the digital transformation blueprint. According to Heru, over time, traditional banking will be eroded if it does not carry out digital transformation.
OpenGov Asia reported that this blueprint will serve as a policy response to the various challenges and risks associated with banking digital transformation. The blueprint for digital banking transformation, according to OJK Deputy Commissioner for Banking Supervision, is said to be a more detailed description of the acceleration of digital transformation in the Indonesian banking development roadmap.
The fintech industry was still afflicted by a slew of digital issues, including fraud, information hacking via the sniffing method, and money mule schemes in which perpetrators ask victims to transfer money to someone else’s account. The ministry has proposed precautionary measures to ensure that the fintech industry grows in tandem with the bolstering of Indonesia’s digital economy ecosystem.
Moreover, as per Heru, technological disruption has allowed new actors in the financial ecosystem to emerge, such as fintech and others, who may provide services like those provided by banks without having a physical presence. “At the moment, banks are just getting started with digitisation. Even banks that do not wish to move on will be told that it is too late if a new bank opens now. Customers will eventually depart, I believe. But, in my opinion, it is never too late; what matters is that we are prepared to confront the challenges that lie ahead,” he remarked.
This Blueprint is focused on five elements of banking digitalisation development which include:
- Data covering data protection, data transfer, and data governance.
- Technology that includes information technology governance, information technology architecture, and information technology adoption principles.
- Information technology risk management includes commercial bank cyber security and outsourcing.
- Collaboration that includes sharing platforms, bank collaboration in the digital ecosystem; and
- Institutional arrangements include funding support, leadership, organisational design, human resource talent, and culture.
These five elements are strategic approaches to encourage banks to develop innovative financial products and services that meet and exceed customer expectations. The Blueprint was developed by considering several factors, including future banking research, banking digitisation conditions, international standards, banking sector best practices, stakeholder involvement, and alignment with key authorities’ laws and regulations.
In addition, aspects of Balance and Neutral Technology are prioritised in this Blueprint. The Balance element aims to strike a balance between encouraging banking innovation while also paying attention to prudential issues to keep banking performance in a safe and sound state. The Technology Neutral element is used to be more flexible in the application of specific technologies to keep up with future advances.
Three main attributes are also presented in this Blueprint. The first step is to accept the Principle-Based idea. This Blueprint establishes guidelines in the form of guiding principles to allow the industry to grow. Second, it adopts a more facilitative approach. The third category is Living Documents. The Blueprint is dynamic, and it will be modified to reflect changes in the banking industry.
OJK’s commitment to promoting digital banking transformation as outlined in several policies before the release of the Blueprint for Digital Banking Transformation, including the Master Plan for the Indonesian Financial Services Sector 2021-2025 (MPSJKI) Pillar 3 and the Roadmap for Development of Indonesian Banking 2020-2025 (RP2I) Pillar 2. Encouraging banks to speed digital transformation while maintaining proper IT governance and risk management.
COVID-19 has highlighted the important work of the University’s researchers, and how their vital partnerships with government and industry can accelerate real-world outcomes. The University of Sydney announced that is part of the NSW Government’s announcement of a first-of-its-kind Australian pilot facility to develop mRNA and RNA drugs and vaccines to combat disease and save lives.
The $96 million facilities, to be established in partnership with all NSW universities, will include laboratories and pre-clinical trial spaces that will enable early-stage RNA-based drug development. This is a significant milestone in the creation of the RNA ecosystem and future R&D commercialisation, with academics playing a major role in driving developments here in NSW for decades to come. The pilot facility will commence subject to the approval of a final business case.
The region’s Premier stated that the State Government’s funding for the facility aims to attract commercial investment in mRNA and RNA production here in Australia. He noted that the COVID pandemic has demonstrated to the world that it is critically important that we can develop vaccines quickly and for the country to have sovereign capability. He added that the advent of mRNA vaccines and the crucial role they’ve played in getting NSW back on the road to a pandemic recovery is just the beginning of what this incredible emerging medical technology can do.
The University of Sydney Vice-Chancellor and Principal was delighted that the University of Sydney is a founding partner on the facility which supports local mRNA and RNA drug and vaccine development. The University will contribute its world-leading expertise and infrastructure to the development and analysis of RNA-based medicines for COVID-19 and a range of other medical conditions.
The Treasurer felt that the facility would be an investment in NSW’s position as a global force in medical research and therapeutics. Supporting the development of high-growth emerging industries such as RNA therapeutics allows the region to not only lead the way in the fight against disease but to boost productivity through innovation and create high-skilled jobs for the future.
The Parliamentary Secretary to the Premier said that the NSW government’s Accelerating R&D in NSW Action Plan will lead future industries and jobs by building strong partnerships between local universities & industry. The NSW government has already announced the formation of the NSW RNA Bioscience Alliance which brings together the best and brightest at the region’s leading universities and research institutes to advance RNA research, development and manufacturing.
The Convener of the NSW Vice-Chancellors’ Committee stated that the investment in the pilot facility is a significant signal that the NSW Government is considering a deeper investment in R&D capabilities that will, in turn, empower the pilot facility to become more commercially viable and attractive to industry investment.
The medical technology sector in Australia is worth $6.1 billion and employs over 36,000 people. Of these businesses, nearly 40 per cent are located in NSW; making the medical technology industry in NSW the largest in Australia. While the sector is growing, there are significant opportunities to accelerate this growth. It is estimated the medical technology industry has the potential to create an additional 28,000 jobs and $18 billion in the gross domestic product (GDP) nationally by 2025.
The NSW Department of Industry has consulted with medical technology stakeholders in the state to develop the NSW medical technology industry development strategy 2018. It consists of a set of five key strategy areas underpinned by initiatives to promote further growth and innovation in the industry. The strategy aims to:
- support industry in commercialising research and development
- grow exports and attract investment into the NSW medical technology sector
- support skills development
- improve connectivity and collaboration within the NSW medical technology industry
- improve the business environment.
The Indian Institute of Technology in Madras (IIT-Madras) recently announced it would launch an advanced diploma programme in virtual reality in association with a Japanese research firm offering niche courses in media and emerging technologies. The course is being coordinated by IIT Madras’s Centre of Excellence on Virtual Reality and Haptics, set up under the government’s Institute of Eminence initiative. The key objective is to serve the increased needs of professionals skilled in virtual reality, augmented reality, mixed reality (XR), and haptics technology.
The course will be offered in both online and offline modes and is open for anyone with an engineering background including students currently enrolled in engineering degrees anywhere in the country, a statement noted. Working professionals who are aspiring to upskill in immersive technologies are also eligible. Applications will be made available from November and the first batch shall commence from January 2022. The course will have an annual intake of 50 students. A memorandum of understanding (MoU) on this collaborative initiative was signed between IIT-Madras and a leading Japanese media communication technology company.
As per a news report, an expert from IIT-Madras stated that virtual reality is inherently a practical and interdisciplinary course. Offering experiential and interdisciplinary courses online is quite challenging. Both IIT-Madras and the partner firm have taken this as an opportunity to offer a course like this for the first time in India. Virtual reality is a powerful technology in which the human senses are artificially stimulated. Using computer programmes, this technology allows a user to interact with a computer-simulated environment to experience, feel, and touch the images of the past, present, and future. Graduates of this course will have potential job opportunities in sectors ranging from IT, animation, architecture, and engineering to healthcare and media production.
Experiential and immersive technology is rapidly developing and transforming key industries from architecture and engineering to healthcare and media production. Various studies and research papers on immersive technology suggest that it has the potential to boost the global economy by US$1.5 trillion by adding 23 million jobs globally, including new jobs that do not exist now, or by enhancing the existing jobs by 2030. This economic growth is under threat due to the lack of availability of skilled resources for employers across the globe.
In August, IIT-Madras inaugurated the country’s first consortium for Virtual Reality called ‘Consortium for VR/AR/MR Engineering Mission in India’ (CAVE). The consortium comprises a group of academic institutions, industries, start-ups, and government bodies. It will enable members to create new advanced technologies and applications in virtual reality, augmented reality, XR, and haptics technology.
According to a news report, the consortium will promote best practices and create a dialogue with stakeholders, government policymakers, and research institutions. It aims to become a resource for industry, academia, consumers, and policymakers interested in virtual, augmented, and mixed reality. The key outcomes envisaged from CAVE include developing indigenous VR/AR/MR and haptics hardware and software and setting up a ‘VR Superhighway’ or ‘VR Corridor’ where many start-ups and industries and work together for a bigger mission to make India a global hub for XR and haptics needs.