The CEO of Vietnam Post (VNPost), Do Ngoc Binh, has confirmed that 300 Community Post Offices (CPOs) would be modernized in 2012 as part of a major Gates Foundation-sponsored project ( “Improvement of computer usage and public Internet access in Vietnam”).
Over the course of this five-year program 1,500 of Vietnam’s 8,000 rural post offices will be refurbished, and equipped with broadband Internet and PCs. According to the ICT Ministry, the goal is to turn CPOs into “ a common cultural house of rural communities”, and a key access point to e-government services (the pilot project received an award for “Best Rural Administration Initiative” at the Eworld Award Ceremony in 2011).
Financed by a 30 m USD grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, software donated by Microsoft, and 15 m USD in government subsidies, the project is also an attempt to rejuvenate Vietnam’s huge network of rural post offices and public libraries. In fact Vietnam was, in the 90s, one of the first countries to turn its network of rural post offices into an outlet for multiple government services – from long-distance phone services to school textbooks and official publications. The need for such services has sharply decreased over the past years, in a country where 85 % of the population now owns a cell phone.
Still, with 80% of the Vietnamese people living in rural areas, the government believes the revamped post offices will help those citizens who don’t yet have a PC at home to “access relevant and useful information to improve their lives” and familiarize with the Internet. In parallel, CPOs employees will get a 35% pay hike, in an attempt to prevent them from leaving for more lucrative private-sector jobs.
More information can be found on the VNPost.vn web site (in Vietnamese), and background information at