Advancement in information and communications technology (ICT) generates huge potential for moving business and production up the value-chain, and improving the quality of life of citizens. At the same time, it brings about new challenges in areas such as information security, protection of intellectual property rights and privacy in the digital environment and the appropriate mode of regulation in the face of increasing media convergence. Leading digital economies need to embrace both the opportunities and challenges brought about by ICT development in order to stay in the forefront of the league.
Hong Kong has made great strides over the years in ICT applications which serve to increase our competitiveness and efficiency, and at the same time bring more convenient and user-friendly services to the community. The Digital 21 Strategy was first published in 1998 as the blueprint for Hong Kong's ICT development. It was updated on a regular basis to take into account technological and socio-economic changes.
Achieving the vision of enhancing Hong Kong's status as a leading digital city requires collaboration amongst all stakeholders in the community, including the Government, the ICT industry, other sectors, the academia and members of the public. That is why the formulation of the Digital 21 Strategy has all along been integrated with a thorough public consultation process to strive for a balanced view on the future direction of ICT development in Hong Kong.
The 2008 Digital 21 Strategy has now been finalised after undergoing public consultation. It contains five key action areas:
With the advent of information societies, a robust information infrastructure, just as essential physical infrastructure, is crucial to supporting and propelling the growth of economies. I believe Hong Kong has a solid ICT foundation which allows us to move further ahead. Our penetration rates for broadband Internet connection and mobile phones are amongst the highest in the world, thanks to the ICT-savvy population and the competitive pricing offered by service providers in a wide range of products and services. We have built up a substantial e-government presence over the years and will endeavour to increase the user-friendliness of our electronic public services. The initiative to install Wi-Fi hotspots in major government premises to provide free access to broadband Internet further demonstrates our commitment to enhancing the ICT capabilities of the community. At the same time, we will spare no efforts in extending the benefits of ICT to our younger generation and disadvantaged groups in the society.
Rapid economic development in the Mainland, particularly with the emphasis on technological advancement in the Nation's 11th Five-Year Plan, opens up immense opportunities for Hong Kong to serve as a hub for fostering cooperation amongst local, Mainland and overseas ICT enterprises. The availability of excellent professional and financial services, a rigorous intellectual property protection regime and advanced infrastructure such as Cyberport and Science Park enable Hong Kong to play this unique role.
The ability to leverage technology is an important attribute of a world city in the modern era. The Commerce and Economic Development Bureau is firmly committed to furthering the ICT development of Hong Kong having regard to the aspirations and needs of our businesses and citizens.
Frederick S. Ma
Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development