Sustainable Digital Economic Development: Toward Prosperous and Inclusive Future

3:57:14 PM | 11/3/2023

Vietnam, like other countries in the world, is advancing its digital economic development and considering it a “breakthrough” in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Notably, integrating sustainable development with the digital economy enables Vietnam to shape the nation’s trajectory toward a prosperous and inclusive future. However, this process also entails many difficulties and challenges for Vietnam.

The overview of the workshop “Sustainable digital economic development” organized by Hanoi Open University

Significant benefits of digital economy

At the National Workshop “Sustainable digital economic development” recently organized by Hanoi Open University,  Dr. Nguyen Thi Nhung, Rector of Hanoi Open University, stated that the digital economy is regarded as a main driving force and pillar of economic development in many countries around the world, including Vietnam. Developing the digital economy, powered by digital technology and digital data to create new business and cooperation models, is consistent with modern development trends. The digital economy offers many great opportunities for the economy such as reducing costs, increasing labor productivity, enhancing the provision of modern products and services for customers, and increasing access to information, data, connection and cooperation to improve competitiveness.

Dr. Tran Minh Tuan, Director of the Department of Digital Economy and Digital Society under the Ministry of Information and Communications, said: Sustainable economic development encompasses the concept of dual transformation: both digital transformation and green transformation. The concept of green transformation was recently introduced when Vietnam committed to “net-zero” emissions by 2050 at COP 26. Resolution 29-NQ/TW dated November 17, 2022 of the 6th Meeting of the Executive Board of the 13th Party Central Committee on the continued acceleration of industrialization and modernization of the country to 2030, with a vision to 2045, also defined digital transformation as a new breakthrough method to expedite industrialization and modernization, in which the digital economy plays an important role.

The digital economy operates in the online environment where economic activities are highly efficient. The emergence of many new economic models has reduced the time to carry out old economic models, he said. The great benefit of the digital economy is not intensively using fossil energy sources such as gasoline and coal that cause greenhouse gas emissions but using new inputs and new means of production called data. Data, when consumed, is not lost like physical resources but generated in operation. Then, it makes devices smarter and more helpful to people in life.

According to Dr. Pham Thi Thanh Binh from Hanoi Open University, despite difficulties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Vietnam’s digital economy achieved a double-digit growth (according to 7th Southeast Digital Economy Report themed “Through the waves, toward a sea of opportunity”, Vietnam achieved a 22% growth of the digital economy in 2022, the highest in Southeast Asia). Vietnam’s cross-border e-commerce grew fastest in the world at an annual pace of 35%, 2.5 times faster than Japan. Vietnam ranked 48th out of 60 countries with rapid economic digital transformation in the world and ranked 22nd in digital development speed. Vietnam’s prospects in digital economy and e-commerce will be more developed. In a country where 53% of the population uses the internet and nearly 50 million people use smartphones, Vietnam’s e-commerce market is predicted to explode in the next decade, especially given the huge potential growth of Vietnam’s e-commerce.

Simultaneously addressing challenges

Despite the advantages and opportunities, Vietnam is currently facing several challenges in achieving sustainable digital economic development. These include unsynchronized infrastructure for the digital economy, weak digital connectivity, a weak and insufficient institutional system that has not facilitated digital economic development, a lack of high-quality human resources for digital economic development, and inadequate regulations on consumer protection. Additionally, private innovations alone are not enough to drive sustainable digital economic development. Digital economic development also poses challenges in safety, cybersecurity, environment, social justice, and employment.

To develop a sustainable digital economy, according to the experience of other countries, the digital economy is developing simultaneously in many fields and cannot be built by a certain group, even if they are given preferential treatment of special powers and resources, said Dr. Bui Thanh Son, Hanoi Open University. Therefore, with their innovative approaches and strong entrepreneurship, businesses play a key role in developing the digital economy and the State will create the infrastructure and conditions for their initiatives to be promoted. In addition, the State can also accelerate digital economic development by completing a common technology platform for organizations and businesses and providing available connections for information diversification.

The development of domestic information and communication technology networks has enabled digital technology to reach people not only in cities but also in remote areas, he emphasized. Besides, affordable high-speed internet encourages the introduction of information systems and electronic services in organizations and offers tax incentives for digital development as well as cross-border online trading.

In particular, it is essential to complete and improve the current legal framework for managing the development of the digital economy and it is advisable to do so in a dialogue manner, taking into account the opinions of users, developers and service providers, who will encounter problems in use and interact with different users when providing services.

At the same time, it is important to enhance professional training for various industries, especially aligned with digital technology, and train enough personnel, including IT experts and programmers as well as qualified users who can use constantly updated digital technologies, said Son. Vietnam can drive a sustainable and inclusive digital economy if it embraces digitalization while addressing challenges related to digital infrastructure, skills development, privacy and environmental impact. This will contribute to the country’s overall economic growth, competitiveness, and social well-being in the digital era.

By Anh Mai, Vietnam Business Forum