Vietnam's Position in the Digitalization Race: Discussing the Digital Roadmap

Vietnam has a strong base to execute digital transformation. The nation has broad access to the internet, with an internet penetration rate of over 70% and a mobile phone subscriber rate of over 130% (as of 2023). Vietnam has been making significant strides in its digital transformation journey, recognizing the critical role of digitalization in fostering economic growth, enhancing competitiveness, and improving the quality of life for its citizens. Vietnam recently released a National Digital Transformation Program by 2025 with a vision towards 2030. On February 23, 2024, Vietnam’s Ministry of Information and Communications disclosed detailed information about the Information and Communication Infrastructure Master Plan for the Period 2021-2030, with a Vision to 2050.

The realization of the necessity to create a broadband communication infrastructure that is characterized by its huge capacity, high speed technology is at the core of Vietnam’s strategy for the development of its digital infrastructure. The plan prioritizes building infrastructure that can bring internet to households across Vietnam and bridge the divide between internet and digital access between the rich and poor. The government also has been taking into consideration investing in international telecommunication cable lines, in order to increase global connectivity. As stated in the Master Plan, Vietnam’s digital infrastructure roadmap includes the adoption of IPv6 (Internet Protocol version 6-the latest protocol; offers a significantly larger address space). as a major turning point. Compared to IPv4, IPv6 provides more address space, security, and scalability. Vietnam wants to future-proof its digital infrastructure and support the growing number of internet-connected devices and apps by giving priority to the IPv6 transition by 2025. The development of data centers and cloud computing platforms is also a priority, with plans to establish at least one national data center and promote the adoption of cloud services among businesses and government agencies.

The program aims to enhance the provision of online public services and promote digital governance. By 2025, the plan targets achieving 80% of the population using digital platforms for online public services, such as e-tax filing, e-healthcare, and e-education. It also includes initiatives to digitize administrative procedures and promote the use of digital signatures and electronic certificates. The plan emphasizes supporting digital entrepreneurship and encouraging businesses to adopt digital technologies, such as e-commerce, digital marketing, and data analytics. It includes measures to create a favorable environment for digital businesses, such as tax incentives, funding opportunities, and the development of digital innovation hubs and startup incubators.

The plan also aims to promote the development of digital platforms and services in key sectors, including agriculture, manufacturing, and logistics. Recognizing the importance of digital literacy and skills, the program focuses on enhancing the digital competencies of the workforce and the general population. It includes initiatives to integrate digital skills into educational curricula at all levels, from primary to tertiary education. The plan also aims to provide training and reskilling opportunities for workers in sectors undergoing digital transformation. As Vietnam embraces digitalization, the program emphasizes the importance of cybersecurity and data protection. It includes measures to strengthen the legal framework for cybersecurity, such as revising the Cybersecurity Law and promoting international cooperation in this area. The plan also aims to enhance the capabilities of cybersecurity professionals and raise awareness about cybersecurity risks among businesses and individuals.

Improved digital infrastructure and internet access open up vast market opportunities, particularly in rural and underserved areas. Smart cities increase demand for innovative technologies and solutions from international firms. Corporate tax exemptions, reduced land lease rates, and streamlined business registration processes for foreign investors could bring about incentives to enter the Vietnamese market and invest. Special Economic Zones (SEZs) and high-tech parks offer favorable conditions for tech companies. Opportunities for international companies to partner with local start-ups, universities, and tech hubs and to hire new and young talent allow more space for success. Supportive regulatory frameworks for digital businesses, data protection, and cybersecurity provide a stable and secure environment for operations.

Vietnam’s Digital Infrastructure Master Plan 2030 is a visionary strategy aimed at transforming the country into a high-tech powerhouse. The plan’s emphasis on digital infrastructure, e-government, smart cities, and digital skills development not only enhances domestic capabilities but also creates a welcoming environment for international companies. The supportive regulatory framework, investment incentives, and collaborative ecosystem offer substantial opportunities for foreign businesses seeking to tap into Vietnam’s dynamic and rapidly evolving digital landscape. As Vietnam continues to advance its digital transformation agenda, it stands poised to become a leading destination for international investment and innovation. ASEAN business partners (or ABP), a market entry firm, can be invaluable assets for international companies seeking to enter Vietnam’s thriving digital market. ABP can conduct in-depth market research to understand Vietnam’s digital ecosystem, can assist international companies with setting up legal entities like representative offices or subsidiaries, can help identify and establish strategic partnerships with Vietnamese companies for distribution, marketing and many others.

About the Author

Thao Nguyen

Thao Nguyen is ABP’s Country Manager – Vietnam. She is a dynamic leader with over 27 years of experience working for both global and local banks in Vietnam. Over the course of her career Thao has held senior leadership roles at HSBC, Citibank, ANZ, Techcombank and VIB