Page 3 of 10Key Institutions and Organizations Dealing with ICT in Asia1
Both developed and large developing markets have a higher number of key government institutions and organizations dealing with ICTs than the small developing markets. In Hong Kong, for instance, there is the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau, Office of the Government Chief Information Officer, Office of the Telecommunication Authority, Innovative Technology Commission, Hong Kong Applied Science and Technology Research Institute, Broadcasting Authority, Hong Kong Internet Registration Corporation Limited, Hong Kong Science and Technology Park, and Hong Kong Cyberport Management Company Limited (which is wholly owned by the Government of Hong Kong). In Japan, there are a number of ICT sector initiatives under the Prime Minister's Office, Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communication, and Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. Singapore has the Info-Communications Development Authority of Singapore (IDA), Media Development Authority of Singapore, Interactive Digital Media Office, Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts, Singapore Infocomm Technology Federation (SiTF), Economic Development Board, Attorney-General's Chambers, and a number of universities and polytechnics actively engaged with the ICT sector.
The same appears to be true in a number of large developing ICT markets. For instance, China has, among others, the Ministry of Information Industry, the China Internet Network Information Center (a body under the Ministry of Information Industry), the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and within it the Computer Network Information Center, and the Secretariat of the Internet Policy and Resource Committee under the Internet Society of China. India has the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, within which operate the Department of Telecommunications and the Department for Information Technology, the National Knowledge Commission, the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing, the Controller of Certifying Authorities, and the Cyber Regulatory Appellate Tribunal.
The picture changes when one looks at developing ICT markets that have smaller economies and are only recently becoming more integrated into the globalized demand and supply chain. For instance, in Afghanistan, there is only the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology and the Afghanistan Telecom Regulatory Authority (ATRA). In Cambodia, ICT projects are overseen by the National Information and Communication Technology Agency and the Ministry of Commerce. In the Maldives, there is the Telecommunications Authority of Maldives and the National Centre for Information Technology.
Vietnam, however, is an interesting case in that it has taken a number of steps characteristic of a rapidly developing ICT market. In 2007 the Vietnamese government created the Ministry of Information and Communication by merging the Ministry of Post and Telematics with parts of the Ministry of Culture and Information. There is also ICT-related work being carried out in the other Ministries, such as the Ministry of Science and Technology. They have also recently passed legislation and guidelines aimed at providing a clearer regulatory regime for ICT:
ICT-related laws that took effect in 2006 include the Law on Electronic Transactions (by Decision No. 51/2005/QH11 of the National Assembly), the Law on Information Technology, the Law on IPR (by Decision No. 28/2005/L/CTN) that has a special section on software development, and the Decree on e-Commerce No. 57/2006/ND-CP. As such, it can be said that 2005-2006 was when a strong legal foundation for ICT development was laid in Vietnam. (Tran and Nguyen, this volume)
To concretize these laws and decrees, more specific regulations were enacted in 2007. The more notable among these are:
Why has Vietnam suddenly become proactive about putting in place regulation for its ICT market? The answer perhaps is that necessity is the mother of invention, but in this case, necessity is felt only when a government starts to see the tangible benefits of rapid economic growth, as Vietnam has witnessed in the past few years, with a lot of this growth attributed to inward bound foreign investment.2
But is increased interest from foreign investors the catalyst for putting in place clear and stable regulation and legislation in ICT sectors in developing countries? If so, why? Is it because a number of smaller developing countries rely on strong supply side equations in developed countries to drive their own internal engines of growth? Is it because their own population's per capita is too low to expect an indigenous demand high enough to drive growth? These questions are beyond the ambit of this paper, but they might make for an interesting study in the ICT context.