Meta accompanies Vietnam in its digital transformation

March 15, 2022 | 17:38
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The digital economy accounts for more than 8 per cent of the country’s GDP, and tech giants like Meta continue to play a crucial role in the country’s digital acceleration. Rafael Frankel, director for Public Policy for South and Southeast Asia, Meta, talked with VIR’s Linh Le about Meta’s recent talks with the government and the country’s digital development.
Meta accompanies Vietnam in its digital transformation
Rafael Frankel, director for Public Policy for South and Southeast Asia at Meta

Can you share with us some of the key highlights of the discussions between Meta and Vietnamese authorities?

Vietnam is my first business trip as borders are reopened, so I’m very excited to be here. I had a series of meetings with several high-level officials from the government. In these discussions, we emphasised Meta’s focus on supporting Vietnam, as the country moves into its recovery phase. We’ve had three stages of work since the pandemic began.

The first was supporting the government in delivering accurate and timely information on COVID-19 to the Vietnamese people. The second stage was helping the government with its vaccine campaign. And now the third stage will focus on how we can help Vietnam emerge stronger than ever in its economic recovery.

Vietnam’s government has an ambitious goal of building a digital economy that accounts for 20 per cent of its GDP in the next five years. So the discussions that we’re having with the government are also centred around how Meta can support Vietnam in reaching that goal, especially through enterprises.

What are some of Meta’s investments and programmes in Vietnam?

Our focus has been that Vietnamese people receive accurate and timely information. Since the Facebook pages “Thông tin Chính phủ” of Vietnam Government Portal and “Sức khỏe Việt Nam” of the Ministry of Health started to run ads on COVID-19 with the ad credits provided by Meta, the number of people following the pages increased by at least 10 times respectively. Vietnam Government Portal’s page now has more than 3.1 million followers, an increase of more than 2.7 million followers in more than a year.

Our vaccination campaign with the Ministry of Health attracted more than 600,000 interactions, 116 million impressions, and nearly 40 million views. I hope that gives you a sense of the scale of the work we undertook with the government in the COVID-19 response effort.

Digital transformation really accelerated. So at the same time as we were helping the government with information, we were also focused on supporting small- and medium-sized enterprises (SME) in Vietnam.

One example of this was our flagship programme #SheMeansBusiness, in partnership with the Ministry of Planning and Investment. In 2021 alone, we trained nearly 40,000 SMEs across all provinces in Vietnam through offline and online activities. In 2022, we aim to enhance our training model to reach over 15,000 SMEs nationwide, and thousands more through on-demand training resources.

How can Meta support Vietnam in its journey to become a digital and creative economy powerhouse in the region?

I think Vietnam has all ingredients to be the region’s digital economy powerhouse in the next decade. It has a thriving entrepreneurial spirit, a young population that’s focused on innovation, and a government that understands the importance of digital transformation.

If Vietnam maintains an open and inclusive internet, I think the country will encourage a huge amount of investment from American and other foreign ICT companies, while also creating the environment where Vietnam’s own digital economy, businesses, and SMEs can thrive in the global marketplace.

We have recommended the establishment of a digital economy task force, with the aim of building digital trust between the government of Vietnam and the American ICT sector. We envision that this task force will include Vietnamese and US companies, working closely with partners such as ministries, agencies, and the larger business community, including companies like Meta.

The goal of that task force is twofold. First, to identify the ways in which investment from our sector can best support the government of Vietnam in building the digital economy and digital transformation. Second, to work together on a holistic and strategic digital policy environment.

In terms of the innovations themselves, there are some areas that we think Vietnam could really excel in. First is business messaging, as Vietnam is among top two globally in Meta’s conversational commerce. Second is our new product called Reels – our short-form video feature, enabling content creators around the world, definitely in Vietnam, to boost their engagement in the country’s digital economy.

Speaking of Meta’s new products, the Metaverse is quite a topic here in Vietnam, given the opportunities it may bring to socioeconomic development. What potential do you see for Metaverse in Vietnam?

The Metaverse is the next evolution in social technologies, and the successor to the mobile internet. It won’t happen overnight, but over time, the Metaverse will unlock new opportunities for people and communities. As we begin the journey of bringing the Metaverse to life, we hope within the next decade, the Metaverse will reach millions of people in Vietnam, and support jobs for creators and developers.

As we’ve seen how the digital economy can be an incredible equaliser, the Metaverse would also foster digital commerce by empowering anyone with digital access to participate. And this is just the tip of the iceberg, because that’s the nature of innovation. As people have innovated in the desktop era and the mobile internet era, they’re going to innovate in the Metaverse era. The sky’s the limit.

By Linh Le

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