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Speech by GCIO at ICT Industry Partnership Forum (English only)

    Following is the opening remarks by the Government Chief Information Officer, Mr Howard Dickson, at the inauguration meeting of the ICT Industry Partnership Forum (IIPF) today (February 5): (English only)

     Dear Daniel, John, distinguished guests, fellow colleagues,

     Good afternoon! Welcome to the ICT Industry Partnership Forum.

     I am delighted to be here today to officiate at the inauguration meeting of the IIPF. The IIPF is intended to be a new channel of communication between the Government and the ICT Industry. It is also a Forum for industry players, including the vendors, industry bodies and academia, to gather together to exchange views and to foster partnership among each other.

     As you are well be aware, we have issued our new Digital 21 Strategy for consultation late last year. We have received very encouraging feedback from the industry. In particular, we  obtained a good number of comments on two specific subjects.  They are the "Broadband connectivity for every citizen" and "Affordable access to industry software solutions for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs)" which are actually the themes for today's Forum.

     Undoubtedly, Internet has become part of our daily life.  Broadband connectivity has become a necessity for business, home and leisure nowadays rather than a luxury. In Hong Kong, Internet connectivity is virtually enabled in all residential buildings. The surveys conducted by the Census and Statistics Department last year revealed that Internet connections were very common in Hong Kong - about 72% of domestic households had PCs at home, and about 94% of these PCs were connected to the Internet.

     We are, however, not complacent about this. We are mindful of the various opportunities that broadband connectivity would bring to us in exploring new businesses, increasing productivity and enhancing our quality of living. We have therefore set out in our new Digital 21 Strategy the vision to make broadband Internet access available to all citizens in Hong Kong, regardless of whether they are at home or on the move using mobile facilities. We have also set a goal in our D21 Strategy of making Internet as a utility service affordable by and available to every Hong Kong citizen.

     As you may all know, SMEs amount to a significant portion of the companies in Hong Kong.  However, IT adoption by SMEs is much lower than in large enterprises. According to the Census and Statistics Department figures, 99% of the large enterprises were using PCs, whereas the corresponding percentages for the medium and small enterprises were 86% and 56% respectively. The same disparity was also observed in respect of Internet connection. In 2006, 95% of the large enterprises had Internet connection, whereas the corresponding percentages for the medium and small enterprises were 81% and 52% respectively.

     These figures reflect that IT adoption and Internet usage for SMEs are relatively on the low side. And this phenomenon is usually attributed to the reason that not enough affordable industry software solutions available to the SMEs. We would like to initiate discussion on this topic and try to identify possible options for addressing the issue.

     Today, we are glad to have invited some SMEs in this Forum who would provide their views from the end-users side. We are pleased to have service providers and research bodies from the academia participating who would offer views and options from the solution providers' perspective.

     Before I close, I would like to thank our distinguished speakers for sharing with us today. I wish you all a fruitful discussion in the Forum.

     Thank you.

Ends/Monday, February 5, 2007
Issued at HKT 17:00


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