Digital Opportunity & Sustainable Development in Lao PDR
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Digital Opportunity & Sustainable Development in Lao PDR . Phonpasit PHISSAMAY Director of Information Technology Center Science Technology and Environment Agency. Outline. Review of ICT development ICT Infrastructure development Some Important ICT Projects

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Digital Opportunity & Sustainable Development in Lao PDR


Director of Information Technology Center

Science Technology and Environment Agency

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  • Review of ICT development

  • ICT Infrastructure development

  • Some Important ICT Projects

  • Digital Opportunity & Sustainable Development

  • Capacity Building

  • Conclusion

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Review of ICT development

  • Less then 1% of the population utilizing computer

  • Currently the educational infrastructure in Lao PDR is inadequate, especially with regard to written material in the Lao language.

  • At present, the unavailability of Lao language software platform does not appear to be an inhibitor to the use of informatics in commercial enterprises and Government Public Service .

  • There are many non-standard Lao character support solutions available in Lao PDR. The cause of non-standard solutions to Lao Script will bear “Digital Divide” to Lao PDR

  • Lao PDR was one of the last South East Asian countries to adopt the Internet. Government ministries make little use of the global network and the business sector has equally been slow to implement Internet related applications

  • The means, in terms of funding and technical expertise, however, is lacking.

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ICT Infrastructure development

  • 4 Telecommunication operators: ETL, Laotel, LAT, Milicom-Lao

  • 5 provinces have a fiber Optic Network connectivity to Vientiane (ETL has plants to cover capitals of 13 provinces by the year 2004 and 142 districts headquarters by 2005.

  • At may 2003, there are 72,235 PSTN lines in services from 3 operators, which 1,706 subscribers in the rural province. And there are only 300 public telephones, which all of them are located in the big city only.

  • In may 2003 there are 106,951 mobile subscribers from4 operators, which Laotel controlling around three quarters of the market.

  • There are about 15,000 computers in the country and growing at about 300 per month currently.

  • Most of government ministries are running some form of local area network (LAN), which each of them designed their network specifically with infrastructure in mind.

  • Starting to use Wireless system and Optic fiber in Vientiane

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Important Project

National Internet Gateway

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Important Project

National Internet Exchange Gateway


2621 Router


2621 Router


2621 Router

Fiber optic

Fiber optic

Fiber optic




IX Switch

Catalyst 3550

Backup Switch

Catalyst 3550

2 X Backup router(2621)




Fiber optic

Fiber optic

Fiber optic


2621 Router


2621 Router


2621 Router

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Important Project

Provincial Internet Gateway

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Important Project

First Telecenter in rural province

  • Location: Youth Center

  • Hardware and Software: 20 PCs and workstations. 10for Internet access and another 10 for training.

  • Internet access: Having an Internet access through Provincial Internet gateway.

  • Staffing and Management: Steering Committee with representatives of STEA, IDRC, Provincial governor’s office. Management of the Telecenter is PADECT and will soon transferring to the local communities association.

  • Telecentre Programming:

    • Creation of an information center by providing data collection, data entry, and data management through the WebPages.

    • Creating 12 new electronic books in Lao, for distribution to schoolchildren.

    • Delivering web based and CD-ROM English language.

    • Training and support services for small and medium businesses

    • Basic IT and Internet skills (free)

    • Web page creation and presence on WWW (paid)

    • Courses on e-commerce concepts and tools (paid)

    • Coaching on formulating e-business strategies and e-marketing (paid service)

    • Electronic support groups (free)

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Digital Opportunity & Sustainable Development

  • Lao PDR is in a process to transform itself into industrialization and modernisation, affected by globalisation and the rapid changes in the ICT sector.

  • The following sectors and potential income generating activities, as identified by the Government of Laos, required to be studied for ICT fusion for increasing growth, productivity, and income generation:

  • - Irrigation project for increased food production and crop diversification

  • - Development of hydroelectric power facilities

  • - Forest resource management including reforestation programmer to sustain the development of high-value timber.

  • - Export development of various products

  • - Increase of the quality of minerals exported

  • - Warehouse trade because of Laos’ s strategic proximity to large potential buyers.

  • - Promotion of market exchange.

  • - Development of infrastructure in both transportation and communications systems

    - Information dissemination on social, economic, climatic valuables, available technologies, investment opportunities overseas, etc.

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Digital Opportunity & Sustainable Development

  • Laos Vision on of an information society, must start with the interests of the people - not only people as consumers who require the best customer service- but people primarily as citizens who require the use of information and telecommunication services in order to participate effectively in the decision-making processes of society.

  • Digital opportunities have emerged as a positive force for economic growth, poverty reduction and sustainable resource use. It is thus essential to examine ways to increase the flow of technology to Least Developed Countries

  • For poverty reduction, sustainable management of natural resources, as well as for optimizing use of financial and human resources, it is important that central agencies have easy access to information on projects implementation progress and sharing information among projects and provinces.

  • Sharing information on successful technologies and practices is important to offer rural communities suitable options for local problems. Also duplication of efforts can be reduced.

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Capacity Building for ICT development

  • Laos faces a lot of problems in introducing ICT Applications in a big way, as there are shortage of ICT talent in the Country and need expertise to develop “capacity building” through human resources development programmes. Government has established the Information Technology Centre in the Science, Technology and Environment Agency (STEA), as the nodal agency of the Government, in ushering ICT applications for decision support, is expected to play a leading role

  • IT Center consisting of 3 main sectors:

  • 1. Networking Sector: Operate National Internet Gateway; Operate the National Internet Exchange Gateway; Provide Internet Access for the Government organizations; Provide Internet Access for Provincial Administration Offices.

  • 2. Information Technology Training Sector: Training for Lao engineers; Training trainers from STEA branch office and Technical training schools in basic IT skill development; Training in general for IT utilization in government offices.

  • 3. Research and Development Sector: Implementing the project on Building the Urban-Rural Digital Link; Open source laboratory; Implementing the project of Lao Language Computing Development

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Capacity Building for ICT development

  • To facilitate the capacity building” through human resources development programmes, the Information Technology Centre will function as a “facilitator” to usher in “Digital Opportunities and Sustainable Development”, in Laos.

  • The Step toward for digital opportunities and sustainable development:

  • - To enhancing the role of our IT center in order to be the center of excellence.

  • - The urgent and greatest need in the country is for skilled professional and technical informatics experts to plan, design, install and maintain information facilities.

  • - Researching and developing the application for E-government system and other computer programs in order to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of government service.

  • - Strengthening the promotion of IT education by establishing the Master in Computer Application Program in Laos.

  • - Bringing the ICT for agriculture and rural development.

  • -  Establishing a provincial Internet gateway

  • -  Establish the VSAT based Intranet connection to rural villages communities.

  • -  Strengthening the Internet penetration and E-business opportunity.

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Conclusion & Recommendation

  • The international community is keen to reduce the Digital Divide. As a Least Developed Country (LDC) could benefit from multilateral, bilateral, NGO and private sector ICT projects.

  • A policy on universal access to the Internet needs to be formulated.

  • Internet can help with development is to overcome the lack of road transport in Laos. While it is difficult to physically get newspapers and schoolbooks to rural communities, these items could be delivered via the Internet. The government should create a network of public Internet access points so that its citizens can access the information they need.

  • If ICT is an important tools for social economic development, then rural people, which occupied 80% of total population and contributed 50.9 % of GDP should have an access.