On 7 March 2023, the Tech for Good Institute conducted a roundtable discussion with leaders in the Vietnam tech ecosystem to discuss how technology and the digital economy may support Vietnam’s growth and development.
Thirty six (36) participants from the public, private and civil spheres shared their perspectives on what “tech for good” meant to them and their respective organisations and provided action-oriented recommendations to advance it for the country.
The Roundtable surfaced key themes of inclusion through connectivity, digital literacy and capacity building. As participation grows and deepens, building trust in the digital economy and ecosystem are imperative if growth is to be sustained. This can be achieved through evidence-driven, consultative policymaking that takes a holistic and responsive approach to driving innovation and inclusive growth.
Bridging the digital divide
- The lack of digital reach to remote and isolated communities also remains a concern, although efforts are being made to integrate rural communities with urban and digitally-upgraded ones. The participation of community-based organisations, alongside the communities, is critical in bringing digital transformation on the ground. Farmer villages also need to be involved as the development of scalable solutions in agriculture will greatly benefit them and boost Vietnam’s economic production both in urban and rural areas.
- Vietnam’s youth is proficient and knowledgeable in the use of digital technologies. However, digital literacy is only evident within Vietnam’s “educated market”. More needs to be done to bridge the digital divide, and ensure that proficiency in digital permeates all segments of the population. A wide talent base can be a healthy source of talent to further attract new investment opportunities into Vietnam.
Promoting DECs with green initiatives
- DECs in Vietnam have areas of improvement when it comes to environmental initiatives. Currently, the priority appears focused on growth and scaling their businesses. A good outcome for Vietnam is to have DECs which are more mindful of their carbon emissions and footprint. In order to achieve this, the government may introduce corporate governance standards to encourage greater social responsibility among DECs. With the rise of impact investing opportunities in the country, it would be good if Vietnamese DECs can look into these areas and pursue them.
An innovative policy framework helps the digital economy to grow
- The Vietnamese government supplemented its 2021-2030 Socio-Economic Development Plan with its own National Digital Transformation Programme. However, there are currently challenges in enforcement. This is due to the fact that Vietnam is in the early stages of its digital transformation journey. In addition, policies need to be formulated to address new challenges introduced by the digital economy. There is a recognition that existing policies need to be updated. For example, Vietnam’s legal provisions on e-commerce are relatively short compared to other laws – indicating the need for more discussions to further enhance the regulatory environment.
- The DECs, especially the digital startups, are at the forefront of dealing with Vietnam’s challenging regulatory environment. Complicated and overlapping policies breed confusion for the private sector. This is also particularly difficult for MSMEs. There is a need to rationalise several redundant laws that cover the digital economy and align it with international standards. In addition, the private sector noted that the laws should be flexible and adaptable given that new innovations might not be covered by existing laws.
- Sandboxing as a tool can be further deployed to foster innovation in certain strategic sectors of Vietnam’s digital economy (e.g. fintech) while addressing associated risks.
- Clear regulatory guidelines on foreign investment is also needed for digital transformation of Vietnamese industries. For example, discussions on the Public Property Management laws are ongoing to better understand how foreign ownership in the digital economy can impact the overall interests of the people.
To read the national-level priorities of Vietnam, please click on the link here.
This study is made possible with the support of the AsiaTechX (ATX) Programme Office, Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) Singapore. A consolidated report of the six roundtables will be launched at ATXSG 2023.