Following is the speech by the Secretary for Information Technology and Broadcasting, Mr K C Kwong, at the Inauguration of Masters of Science programme (E-Commerce) and Masters of Science programme (Internet Computing) of the University of Hong Kong today (Friday):
Professor Cheng, Dr Cheung, Mr Li, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
I am very pleased to witness this afternoon the inauguration of the new Masters of Science programmes on E-commerce and Internet Computing launched by the University of Hong Kong. Only six months ago, I attended the opening of the Asia-Pacific Region's first Internet-Centric Excellence Centre here at the University. I am therefore excited to see that the University has now taken that initiative further by launching these two Masters of Science programmes.
The emergence of the Internet is the most significant feature of the Information Age. Not only has it become a global network for worldwide communication and information transfer, it has also spurred whole new ways of doing business. Fuelled by the exponential growth in Internet users worldwide and the advances in Internet computing, electronic commerce is growing by leaps and bounds. According to recent industry estimates, the total value of business on the Internet will rise from US$200 billion per year in 1998 to US$1 trillion per year by 2002.
The Government fully recognises the importance of e-commerce in driving our long-term economic growth. We are committed to providing a favourable environment for e-commerce to take hold and flourish in Hong Kong and are embarking on various initiatives to achieve this challenging goal. As Professor Cheng pointed out, Government's efforts alone are not enough. The academia, the industry and the Government must all join hands and work together to promote the development and take-up of e-commerce.
For Hong Kong to become a leader in the use of e-commerce, it is of vital importance that we have the people who are equipped with the necessary skills. I am therefore very glad to see that all our tertiary institutions have taken up the challenge and are running a wide range of IT and related programmes. In particular, I wish to commend the University of Hong Kong for its vision in establishing these two masters programmes within a relatively short lead time. The programmes are a timely response to the needs of business as we press ahead with the launching of e-commerce across the whole community. It is no wonder that the two programmes have been well received, and competition for the limited places has been keen. I have no doubt that those of you who graduate from these two programmes will provide the leadership and drive for our ventures on the Internet and in e-commerce.
I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the University of Hong Kong for all its work in helping to keep Hong Kong in the forefront of the information world. I would also like to express my appreciation of the industry partners of the University for their unfailing support to the IT initiatives taken by the University. And last but not least, I wish the students in the two masters programmes every success in their studies.
End/Friday, September 10, 1999