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Technology groups question Ministry’s hardware development strategy

Update: 12-07-2014 | 00:00:00
Leading technology groups in Vietnam like FPT and Viettel doubt the feasibility of the government’s hardware and electronics development strategy, calling it too ambitious.


The draft information technology (IT) development strategy by 2020 compiled by the Ministry of Information and Communication (MIC) says Vietnam would develop Vietnamese hardware and & electronic products to replace imports.

Analysts commented that MIC’s plans are a bit impractical, saying that there is no way for Vietnamese hardware and electronics manufacturers to develop. They said Vietnam should not waste time on developing Vietnamese brand computers and smartphones because the products with Vietnamese brands would not sell.

Bui Quang Ngoc, CEO of FPT, the largest Vietnamese technology group, said Vietnam would not have future if it focused on making hardware.

This Is partly caused by Vietnam’s proximity to China, which is considered a worldwide hardware production base. China is not good at product design, but the products made in China are competitive all over the globe thanks to low production costs.

“In fact, most of the hardware products bearing Vietnamese brands are made in China and with Chinese designs,” Ngoc said.

A senior executive of an IT firm, who asked to be anonymous, commented that watchdog agencies often waste time on drawing up unrealistic plans which everyone knows will never come true.

Relevant ministries some years ago kicked off the program to make electronic semiconductors after they all agreed that this would be a very important component project of the program. However, it is controversial whether this is the right way for Vietnam.

“MIC should have working sessions with enterprises and relevant ministries and branches to discuss the plans and set up goals that are more feasible and practical than the hardware development program,” he noted.

Hoang Le Minh, head of the Software & Digital Content Industry Institute, also thinks that made-in-Vietnam IC products will be uncompetitive in the world market.

Bui Manh Hai, chair of Vinasa, the Vietnamese IT association, agreed with Minh, saying that Vietnam should only focus on some major sectors of the industry to master technologies to serve the national defence, and that it should not try to make products for export.

Some research institutes have been actively promoting and advocating a microchip research and development program. ICDREC, a unit of the HCM City National University, for example, has spent VND120 billion on designing chips.

However, Hai believes that it will be no use to try compete with giants like Samsung, Toshiba and Intel.

Meanwhile, Viettel’s Deputy CEO Tong Viet Trung was a little more optimistic about what Vietnam can do.

“With our human resources, Vietnam can undertake complicated design,” Trung said.

Regarding the production and realization of the designs, Trung said in the past, Vietnamese enterprises needed foreign assistance even for simple devices such as keyboards. But this can now be done by Vietnamese enterprises.

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