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Vietnam’s initiative shows importance of digital technology: ITU Secretary

Houlin Zhao, ITU Secretary General, said the renaming to ITU Digital World is a great initiative of Vietnam reflecting the importance of digital technology in the communications ecosystem.


ITU Secretary General Houlin Zhao


The first ITU Telecom was organized 50 years ago. Most recently, the events were organized in Budapest, Hungary and Durban, South Africa. Host countries are chosen through competitive candidacy.

“I think Vietnam is a wonderful host country to organize the event,” he said in an interview with VietNamNet.

Vietnam’s strong commitments and enthusiasm to organize ITU Telecom World 2020 offline in 2020 were recognized, but because of Covid-19, the event was organized online. And Vietnam continues to host the event this year – ITU Digital World 2021.

Vietnam’s significant achievements in ICT development and its important role in ASEAN both make Vietnam an ideal host of the event. He said he is impressed with the rapid ICT development in Vietnam.

He acknowledged Vietnam's role as a leading ICT service provider and digital economy in ASEAN, and an important partner in many markets from Asia, Africa to Latin America and the Caribbean.

For a long time, the old image of fixed-line telephone set was shown when talking about telecom. But nowadays, when talking about ICT, one would think about the development of technology firms and applications.

In 2019, the event was organized in Hungary – ITU Telecom World 2019. But Vietnamese Minister of Information and Communications Nguyen Manh Hung has suggested renaming it ITU Digital World, a wonderful initiative which shows the importance of digital technology in communications ecosystem.

The Covid-19 pandemic has posed many challenges. However, with ICT services, billions of people still can work, study, take care of others and maintain contacts throughout the pandemic all over the world, including the participants of ITU events.

However, half of the global population still cannot access technology and necessary digital services.

ITU has built its position as an ICT leader in the United Nations’ great family to support the organization of events and meetings under online mode.

Online meetings show greater inclusivity than offline meetings, allowing people, no matter where they are, to participate in events as panel speakers or delegates.

The organization of WSIS this year online, for example, has been highly appreciated by all parties because it helps intensify participation and promote cooperation all over the world.

Organizing ITU events online is an important decision to respond to the crisis. The 2020 meeting was the first large-scale event of ITU and it was successfully organized thanks to the cooperation, qualification of the staff and great efforts of the partners in Vietnam. And this year’s event has gone smoothly also thanks to the staff.

Houlin Zhao praised the Vietnamese Government’s strong support and enthusiasm in organizing the edition of 50th anniversary of ITU Telecom. He believes that organizing the event in Vietnam is a right decision. Vietnam’s great achievements in ICT development makes Vietnam a wonderful model for the region and the world.

He hopes that the Ministers’ conference in some days will convene leading representatives of the public and private sectors to consider the role of governments in cutting broadband costs, expanding broadband connection and promoting digital society.

Vietnam’s experience and initiatives in digital transformation, including the newly announced e-Government strategy will help orientate the discussions and it is really an active model for other governments to consider.

A lot of issues are expected to be discussed at the event, including digital transformation, support to people to access broadband at reasonable costs, and the building of a digital future.

Themed ‘Building a Digital World Together’, ITU Digital World 2021 gathers parties from all over the world and the ICT ecosystem, governments and businesses, from small and medium technology firms to large corporations, institutes and international organizations.

Houlin Zhao said the Covid-19 pandemic shows the importance of digital connection and services, as well as the digital gap between the people who can access and those who cannot. It’s now the right time to take action to narrow the gap and create conditions for 3.7 billion people to access broadband and the opportunities and benefits it can bring.

The goal can be reached through the cooperation between governments, nations, the entire ICT industry, international organizations, the public – private and civil sectors.

“The main message of the event is that together, we can connect the people who remain inaccessible and accelerate the development of new technologies, from AI to 5G mobile infrastructure, which is the center of the digital economy. It’s now the time to speed up digital information in Vietnam, the region and the world,” he said. 

Nguyen Thai

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