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Cablegate: Vietnam Country Gateway Launched

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS HANOI 000340

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED

STATE PASS USAID FOR ANTOINETTE FERRARA
STATE ALSO PASS USTR FOR EBRYAN

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECPS ECON ETRD EAID VM
SUBJECT: VIETNAM COUNTRY GATEWAY LAUNCHED

REF: (A) 02 Hanoi 2601 (B) 02 HANOI 2762

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Marking another step in Vietnam's
efforts to increase access to the internet, Vietnam and the
World Bank launched the Vietnam Country Gateway Project in
January. Understanding the importance of information
technology to economic and social development, this project
plans on providing Internet access throughout Vietnam.
Furthermore, it seeks to create a central E-hub through
which numerous databases can be accessed. This ambitious
project has the potential to dramatically change the lives
of Vietnam's rural population, which is extremely isolated.
However, Vietnam's aspiration for such socio-economic
development directly conflicts with the Government's desire
to control the flow of information. Therefore, this
project's success will ultimately depend upon the
willingness of the Government to allow unfettered access to
the Internet. END SUMMARY.

2. (U) On January 16, Vietnam announced the launch of the
Vietnam Country Gateway Project (VNCG). Sponsored by the
World Bank as part of the Global Information Technology
Development Program (InfoDev), the GLOBAL DEVELOPMENT
GATEWAY is a system that seeks to create an "open"
environment based on access to databases throughout the
world from one central E-hub in order to foster economic
development. The Vietnam Country Gateway will make
information and knowledge available for domestic and
international users. Furthermore, it will promote
information technology applications in order to achieve
further economic and social development.

3. (U) VNCG will focus on extending and improving internet
services to promote the dissemination of quality
information, catalyze the development of the country's
Internet economy, and provide support to government and
private sector initiatives for economic development and
alleviation of poverty throughout Vietnam. VNCG's main
objective is to broaden the capacity for providing Internet
services to remote and rural areas of the country.

4. (U) The dissemination and exchange of information is
crucial in order to achieve Vietnam's stated goal of
integrating into the region and the world. Because of the
potential impact of Internet technology on all socio-
economic arenas and the project's community service nature,
support of Government Ministries and agencies, local
authorities, international organizations and funding
institutions is essential. At this point the project seems
to have solid support from all concerned.

5. (U) As the recipient of a 40,000 USD grant from the
World Bank for the planning stage (an additional USD 600,000
implementation grant from the World Bank is expected to
follow), Vietnam Posts and Telecommunications (VNPT) will
provide guidance for development strategy, telecommunication
infrastructure, and related policy issues. Vietnam Data
Communication (VDC) will implement the program, with the
Director and Deputy Director of VDC occupying the posts of
project coordinator and project manager respectively (see
ref B for an explanation of Vietnam's telecom sector).

6. (SBU) Comment: Speakers at the launch often referred to
"world-wide internet access" and the "global database of
knowledge." The question will be to what extent the GVN
will filter and restrict this access, especially given
recent regulations requiring registration of web sites (for
further discussion of this issue, see ref A). This ambitious
project has the potential to dramatically change the lives
of Vietnam's rural population, which is extremely isolated.
However, Vietnam's aspiration for such socio-economic
development directly conflicts with the Government's desire
to control the flow of information through website
registration requirements, Internet filters, and censorship
of the local media. Therefore, this project's success will
ultimately depend upon the willingness of the Government to
allow unfettered access to the Internet.

BURGHARDT

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