ASEAN moves ahead with digital push

April 22, 2020 | 10:00
The digital transformation is narrowing the gap between people amid social distancing measures, helping citizens and companies solve urgent issues amid the pandemic.
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PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc chaired the ASEAN Special High-level Video Conference on Responding to COVID-19

The current global health crisis is preventing people from travelling anywhere and meeting others. However, fortunately it cannot prevent them from discussing ideas and even making deals via online meetings. On April 14, for the first time, the online Special ASEAN Summit on COVID-19 and the online Special ASEAN+3 Summit on COVID-19 were held, with the participation of all leaders of the member countries.

“During the ASEAN’s development, there has never been such high-level online meetings, even in 2003, when the region faced the SARS pandemic. This makes the meetings meaningful,” said Vu Ho, director of the ASEAN Department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

According to Ho, although each country has its own technological background, regulations on cybersecurity, and different time zones, both meetings were greatly successful. “This is an immense advance of Vietnam’s technology. All infrastructure and applications used for the video meeting are made in Vietnam by Viettel. The international IT experts participating in this organisation highly appreciated the quality of the online meetings as well as the technical infrastructure and capacity of the Vietnamese,” Ho added.

For many years, the digital transformation has been discussed among ASEAN countries. In 2018, the area established the ASEAN Smart Cities Network, and last year, under the chairmanship of Thailand, the Fourth Industrial Revolution became one of the priorities of the ASEAN. The success of online meetings has been a great test for the policies and decisions of the bloc so far on both communication technology and digital life.

“It is also an impetus for the ASEAN to completely advance into a digital world,” Ho said.

One day after the ASEAN meetings, an important agreement between Vietnam’s Ministry of Planning and Investment and the US Agency for International Development (USAID) was signed virtually. Accordingly, the USAID will provide a $42 million budget to advance Vietnam’s economic competitiveness through strengthening the private sector, innovation, the startup ecosystem, and human capital. The agreement will also foster greater entrepreneurship, enable deeper links between Vietnamese startups and global corporations, and lure in investment capital, as well as strengthen high-quality human capital needed for a robust knowledge-based economy.

Meanwhile, FPT Group, one of Vietnam’s leading tech companies, also impressed the business community by holding its annual general shareholder meeting online thanks to applying AI and an online conferencing system.

“This effort of FPT ensures the rights and safety of shareholders, depicting its determination to overcome all challenges during this war-like time,” said Truong Gia Binh, CEO of FPT.

According to Binh, the meeting has passed the business plan for the remainder of this year, in which further investments and project implementations are two of the three major targets. “The pandemic is also a driver for the digital revolution. The application of technological achievements to organise meetings such as the shareholders’ general meeting in the context of the epidemic is a testament to FPT’s efforts to ensure our activities,” he added.

According to him, amid the crisis, FPT is seeking new opportunities and has earned valuable contracts from the global market to further boost local digital transformation. “We have just become a service provider for one of the largest car makers in the United States, and signed many contracts with medical equipment manufacturers in Japan, and co-operations with US and Italian companies enable us to foster the digital transformation of one of Vietnam’s biggest motorbike manufacturers,” Binh said.

International Data Corporation predicts that next year will be the year of a surge in cloud services, considering that the COVID-19 pandemic represents an important impetus for business flexibility. By 2022, more than 90 per cent of businesses around the world will rely on cloud platforms to have a strong, scalable, and cost-effective IT infrastructure. The demand for digital transformation in recent years has grown rapidly and is likely to rise increasingly after the epidemic ends.

By Phuong Hao

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