Singapore outlines Telecom, IT plan

Singapore's government is drawing up a master plan for development of the country's information and communication technologies (ICT), which it hopes will drive the country to become the world's second most information-driven economy after the US within three years.

The plan combines traditional IT with telecommunications, largely in response to the rise in importance of the Internet.

The 10-year ICT21 master plan will map out strategies for Singapore to become a leader in the use of ICT, as well as a gateway to the Asia-Pacific region and a key node in the global information infrastructure, according to minister for communications and information technology Yeo Cheow Tong.

"Our vision is to transform Singapore into a dynamic and vibrant global ICT capital with a thriving and prosperous Net economy by 2010," said Yeo, at the CommunicAsia trade show here last week.

The plan covers five broad sectors -- technological capability, innovation, mass customisation, manpower and infrastructure development, and entrepreneurship. Details of the plan will build on existing initiatives such as the SingaporeONE nationwide broadband network and the IT2000 computerisation plan.

"We aim to complete the first cut ICT21 master plan and key action agenda by the end of the year, and have it ready for public release in the first quarter of 2000," Yeo said.

Development of this converging sector will be achieved through government support and encouragement for local and global enterprises, education about the use of ICT in other industries and increasing user demand by delivering public services online, Yeo said.

A recent study from market analyst IDC ranked Singapore as the world's fourth most information-driven economy and society after the US, Sweden and Finland. With extended use of e-commerce, IT-based education, and all public services going online, Singapore can achieve second spot behind the US by 2002, IDC projected.

To help drive the initiative, Singapore this month merged two government-owned bodies -- the Telecommunications Authority of Singapore and the National Computer Board -- to form the Information Technology and Telecommunications Authority.

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