by Hoang Nam
HCM CITY — The information and communications technology sector has underlined its position as a key economic driver, creating jobs and contributing to GDP growth despite the downturn, Deputy Minister of Information and Communications Nguyen Minh Hong said.
Speaking at an annual ICT market and technology outlook conference in HCM City yesterday, he said: "The ministry has asked the Government for more support for the industry to boost economic growth."
The Government also encourages public-private partnerships, and could buy all ICT services from companies, he added.
Last year the country's ICT turnover topped US$13.7 billion, a whopping 79 per cent increase year-on-year, with hardware accounting for $11.3 billion.
Software and digital content growth was not as high as in previous years, but still managed respectable 10 and 25 per cent rates.
"Total exports of computers, electronic products and components, and telecom equipment were worth over $10.9 billion, a year-on-year growth of 92.2 per cent," Nguyen Trong Duong, head of the ministry's ICT department said.
"It was also the first time there was a surplus of exports, with exports being $428 million higher than imports."
ICT use in governance has continued to increase. Most ministries, other administrative agencies, and provinces have electronic portals, enabling people to access data anytime, anywhere.
More than 100,000 public services are available online, with more, like e-passport, and tax payments to follow soon.
But a big concern is information security, with the average rate of hacker recognition relating to some simple forms being only 16.8 per cent. It was 36.2 per cent for more complex forms and 14.4 per cent for efficiency deterioration attacks and service denial attacks.
The average rate of use of information security solutions was 25.3 per cent in 2011.
"Information security management has been improved but application rates and human resources remain limited," Duong explained.
ICT training continued to expand with 290 universities and colleges offering ICT (13 more than in 2010) courses to nearly 65,000 students.
At the conference Chu Tien Dung, chairman of the HCM City Computer Association (HCA), tabled the results of a survey of 256 ICT enterprises that accounted for 85 per cent of total business.
It said software exports remained important since the domestic market had not expanded much, and the role of high-tech parks was very important for such exports.
Dung said only 20 per cent of hardware companies broke even, making average profits of around 3 per cent.
There were few products and services based on new technologies, tablets, and smart phones and open source code, he said.
"ICT firms contribute 18 per cent of HCM City's GDP and authorities should invest more to boost this key industry, especially by providing more funds.
"Hardware and electronics firms should move towards tablets and smart phones." — VNS