ITU Secretary General: 'I Want Other Countries to Learn From Vietnam'

Zhao Houlin, General Secretary of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), hopes that member countries can learn from Vietnam in regards to investing abroad and producing equipment themselves.
October 14, 2021 | 12:40
ITU Secretary General: 'I Want Other Countries to Learn From Vietnam'
Zhao Houlin, general secretary of the International Telecommunication Union, discussed with Minister of Information and Communications Nguyen Manh Hung on the afternoon of October 13. Photo: VnExpress

During a meeting with Minister of Information and Communications Nguyen Manh Hung on the sidelines of ITU Digital World 2021 on October 13, Zhao highly appreciated Vietnam's achievements as well as the successful investments of domestic telecommunications companies.

He cited statistics of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) showing that the indicators of Vietnamese people's internet access are increasing. Previously, Vietnam's index was lower than the Philippines but has now surpassed it. Regarding telecommunications investment abroad, the head of ITU mentioned Viettel as a "latecomer" in Myanmar, but being the most successful.

"Vietnam's achievements are not only for comparison within ASEAN countries, but also can be compared with other countries in the Asian region," he said.

"Even compared to countries like China and South Korea, Vietnam is still a country that currently has telecommunications customers in more than 10 foreign markets," Zhao said. The only Asian country comparable to Vietnam is India. According to him, the Indian telecommunications industry also has more than 10 overseas markets, mostly in Africa, but mainly from previous historical and cultural ties.

In addition, Vietnam does not follow the "trail" of development based on the purchase of services and technology from large companies such as Ericson, Huawei, and Samsung. Instead, domestic companies have begun to manufacture their own equipment.

"Vietnam has reached out to foreign markets, using Made in Vietnam equipment and technology. This is what I want ITU members to learn, because Vietnam has a good story about investment, not only success but also sustainable success," said ITU Secretary General.

At the meeting, Minister of Information and Communications Nguyen Manh Hung also shared comments on the situation of telecommunications and technology in the world, and made proposals to the International Telecommunication Union.

According to the Minister, ITU is currently converging both telecommunications with information technology and digital technology. This is reflected in the fact that ITU Telecom World was renamed ITU Digital World at the initiative of Vietnam. The Member Ministers also continuously exchanged topics on digital world, digital technology and digital transformation.

"I think that with the convergence of telecommunications with information technology and digital technology, this is really a revolution. When it has created a revolution, it is not just a matter of technology anymore, but a matter of policy and institutional issues", the Minister said, adding that the ITU needs to have stronger participation and orientation on non-technological issues.

Issues such as national sovereignty in digital space, social responsibility of large technology companies, compliance with laws and local culture of cross-border service providers are what the ITU needs to be involved in, according to the Minister.

ITU Secretary General: 'I Want Other Countries to Learn From Vietnam'
Minister of Information and Communications Nguyen Manh Hung in a meeting with representatives of ITU. Photo: VnExpress

The head of the Ministry of Information and Communications proposed that ITU organize a program for each member country in the alliance to implement an initiative with its own resources. If the initiative is successful, it will spread globally.

"ITU will mobilize more resources of 193 countries. If members have one successful initiative each year, ITU will have 193 great initiatives. I think that's a huge change," Minister Nguyen Manh Hung said.

For example, Hung said Vietnam's initiative is to quickly cover 5G by having each carrier invest 25%, then they roam with each other in the first phase. With four carriers, Vietnam can cover 5G within a year and the investment of each carrier will also be reduced. Vietnam will implement this initiative in 2022 and, if successful, will share it with ITU at next year's event.

The ITU Secretary General considers the proposal for each country to implement an initiative as a "great idea." As for the initiative in 5G deployment, Zhao said that it may be difficult because when it comes to implementing an idea, it will need to work with all four carriers, while they do not always have the same business idea. "With the determination of the Government, I believe Vietnam will be able to do it," Zhao said.

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