Vietnam saw the rate of online public services use and internet access traffic double in March amid the spread of COVID-19, creating a big push for the country in its digital transformation journey. Nguyen Huy Dung, director of the Ministry of Information and Communications’ Department of Information Security, examined the new opportunities for national digitalization in 2020.
We are living in a digital age, with strong development of technology and more online communication and information exchanges. We were once worried about becoming too dependent on technology devices, but COVID-19 has forced us to change this mindset. We have become aware that we do not have enough digitalized technologies, such as adequate healthcare software for local citizens.
From this, we know that the capacity of Vietnamese digital technology companies is far higher than we thought. In fact, many software solutions for the prevention and fight against the pandemic are produced within 48 hours, and many firms have even introduced new and efficient applications ahead of this timeframe.
COVID-19 is not only a challenge for each individual, but also a strict test of the health condition of businesses, as well as the adaptation and response of each country. This in turn creates new opportunities to accelerate positive changes in society.
Strong impetus to IT applications
Vietnam has launched and developed e-government services for years. Online public services have seen increased use by ministries, agencies, and localities to ease administrative procedures, leading to an increase in the number of online public services. However, the percentage of these that generate records remains low.
The onset of the virus has led to many people becoming worried about going out in public, and the government has taken a number of drastic measures to fight the disease, such as limiting large gatherings. As a result, there has been a trend towards using online applications.
The percentage of agencies providing online public services is an important measurement indicator for e-government development. Online public services should be available for everyone everywhere at all times. This helps to save time and money, increases efficiency and transparency in the operation of state organs, contributes to preventing and fighting corruption, and reforms administrative procedures comprehensively.
Therefore, encouraging locals and businesses to use online public services is a good pandemic prevention measure and provides motivation for e-government development.
In a report assessing the impact of COVID-19 on ICT applications among state agencies in the first quarter of 2020, the Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) clarifies that e-government development among ministries and agencies seems to have had no negative impact from the pandemic.
In fact, the process is even developing faster because of the high demand for information exchanges and document delivery, and online meetings at different levels and among agencies at all levels tasked with fighting the virus.
With the rapid spread of COVID-19, promoting the provision of online public services at levels 3 and 4 becomes increasingly more important and urgent. The facts prove a strong increase in access to e-portals and online public services.
With the dual role of e-government development in general and promoting the development of online public services in particular, the MIC has taken many practical steps to propagate and motivate people to use online public services.
In the near future, the ministry will launch an e-government monitoring system to collect and measure the use of online public services for each locality, ministry, or agency.
Digital transformation - ready for take-off
The draft of the National Digital Transformation Programme by 2025, with a vision towards 2030, sets targets for Vietnam to be named among the 50 leading countries in e-government by 2030, for the digital economy to make up 30 per cent of GDP, and for people to be able to enjoy and experience smart services in healthcare, education, banking and finance, transport, the environment, and energy supply.
At present, the MIC is completing the draft before submitting it to the government for approval. Once the programme is approved, this will be the framework for the national digital transformation, and based on this, ministries and agencies, and cities and provinces will be able to build and deploy their five-year programmes and annual plans on digital transformation to tap into their own advantages and specific characteristics. Once all ministries, agencies, and localities, as well as businesses and society, join efforts in digital transformation, all the targets of developing a digital government, digital economy, and digital society set in the programme will be achieved.