Following is the speech by Secretary for Information Technology and Broadcasting, Mr K C Kwong, at the opening ceremony of the Internet-Centric Excellence Centre of the University of Hong Kong today (Wednesday):
Professor Cheng, Mr Poon, Mr Tam, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am very pleased to attend the opening ceremony of the Internet-Centric Excellence Centre of the University of Hong Kong.
The development of the Internet in the past few years has been phenomenal. By exploiting the convergence of information technology, telecommunications and multi-media content, the Internet has created an ever expanding and globally connected virtual community - a community which transcends geographical and time boundaries. The number of Internet users world-wide has passed the 100 million mark last year and is expected to reach 150 million within a year. Annual sales over the Internet have passed the US$ 30 billion mark last year and is expected to exceed US$400 billion by 2002. The Internet market is thus huge and fast growing and its potential is enormous. It is therefore crucially important for our businesses to fully equip themselves with the necessary Internet skills to improve their global competitiveness.
I am delighted to witness the opening of the Internet-Centric Excellence Centre of the University which will serve as a focal point for innovation as well as applied research and training on Internet computing and electronic commerce. The establishment of the Centre is timely. It will help to prepare our local companies to exploit more effectively and fully the opportunities offered by the Internet.
I recall that it was only about six months ago that I officiated at the opening of the world's first Authorised Academic Java Campus here at the University of Hong Kong. I am glad to see that the University is not complacent and is working proactively to find new ways to encourage the development and adoption of Internet technology by establishing the Internet-Centric Excellence Centre, again a first in the Asia-Pacific Region. I must take this opportunity to congratulate the University for all the efforts it has made in helping to keep Hong Kong in the forefront of the information world. I would also wish to express my appreciation to both Oracle Systems and Sun Microsystems for their unfailing support for the IT initiatives of our universities. Once more, they have underlined the importance of collaboration between industry and academia in the overall promotion of the use and development of advanced IT in the community.
I am confident that the operation of the Internet-Centric Excellence Centre will be a success and it will set a shining example for others in the region to follow.
End/Wednesday, March 31, 1999