Microsoft's Gates Takes High-Tech to Vietnam
Gates gets rockstar-like treatment as thousands come out to greet him during his visit to give Vietnamese high-tech efforts a boost.
-- Thousands of cheering Vietnamese students
welcomed Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates on Saturday with raucous
adulation normally reserved for rock stars.
excitement that greeted Gates during his first visit to Vietnam
reflects the communist country's eagerness to follow the route of
high-tech meccas like India and its belief that he can help pave the
"I've been waiting for Bill Gates to come to
Vietnam for a long time," said Le Tuan Anh, 21, a second-year computer
engineering student who clutched a copy of Saigon Entrepreneur magazine
that profiled Gates on its cover. "Hopefully this will boost IT
development in Vietnam."
Gates, whose visit comes as
Vietnam seeks to carve a niche for itself in the high-tech world, said
the country has the potential to become one of the Asian "miracle"
economies by investing in its young people.
element to allow IT to help the economy grow, and become an export
sector itself, comes back to investment in education," he said during a
speech at the close of his whirlwind, day-long tour. "Clearly I see
that over the next decade Vietnam will join those miracles."
in the day, thousands of students, some of them perched in trees and
others on balconies, lined up outside the auditorium at the Hanoi
University of Technology to catch a glimpse of him as he came to make a
speech on the future of technology.
sparked momentary pandemonium as the students swarmed his entourage,
pushing against security barricades.
standing ovation, Gates told his audience with a world connected
through the Internet, "someone's opportunity is not determined so much
by geography but by the educational investment you make."
certainly encourage students to use the Internet as much as possible
and learn about the global economy. Most of the opportunity for Vietnam
is in the global economy," he said during an hour-long talk where he
encouraged the country's leaders to consider not only manufacturing but
software development and outsourcing.
projected on giant TV screens beside the podium, Gates later took
questions from the young audience of about 1,000 inside the auditorium
as well as thousands of others watching him on big screen outside.
is keen to jump-start its high-tech sector, which got a big boost
earlier this year when the world's largest chipmaker Intel Corp.
announced plans to build a US$300 million (euro248 million) assembly
plant in Ho Chi Minh City.
At the start of the day,
Gates told Prime Minister Phan Van Khai that he sees "opportunity in
Vietnam for talented people to have jobs in the IT sector."
two men met a year ago when Khai toured the software giant's
headquarters near Seattle during the leader's landmark visit to the
United States and extended an invitation for Gates to visit Vietnam.
country's fledgling high-tech industry is working to raise its profile
even as Vietnam battles a reputation as one of the region's worst
violators of intellectual property rights. It is one of the most
prolific producers of pirated software in Asia, and copies of Microsoft
operating systems sell on the street for a couple dollars.
representatives later signed an agreement with the Ministry of Finance,
making it the first government office in Vietnam with licensed
Microsoft software installed.
In the afternoon,
Gates met with members of the Vietnamese high tech community before
touring neighboring Bac Ninh province to talk about how information
technology is being applied in rural areas.
Son commune outside of Hanoi, he launched the 'One Click Project' aimed
at providing low-cost computers with stripped down versions of
Microsoft programs and Internet connection in a bid to make technology
Microsoft is also working to put a
community technology center into each of Vietnam's 64 provinces, with
technology training and free Internet use for one year.
vowed that he "will stay involved as we consider how to raise our
investment to the next level."
"I have a very strong
optimism, not just about our activities here, but about all the new
developments taking place in the country," he said.