Rural residents in 40 provinces will benefit from a five-year project worth over 50 million USD that will improve computer usage and internet access ability in Viet Nam, the Ministry of Information and Communications announced on Nov. 10.

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) and Microsoft will fuel the project with nearly 34 million USD. It is co-implemented by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and local governments.

Accordingly, over 12,000 computers connecting to the internet will be installed in 1,900 public libraries and commune post offices, facilitating residents to receive wholly-or-partially-free services.

BMGF's Global Libraries Initiative director Deborah Jacobs said that cooperation and discussions about visions of the project would play important roles in ensuring long-term financial and technological sustainability.

Culture, Sport and Tourism Deputy Minister Huynh Vinh Ai said that beneficiaries in the pilot project showed their satisfaction to computer and internet access which helped improve their living standards and get out of poverty.

"It's difficult for the poor to access information technology," he said, adding that the huge information source from the internet would be useful to them only if provided with proper instruction.

So, under the project, a website in Vietnamese and Khmer language with information about farming, production and culture would be set up and linked to other websites of the national library and research institutes.

Moreover, affordable service cost for the beneficiaries when the project ends also needed consideration, Ai said.

This is the expansion of a pilot project in three provinces of Nghe An, Thai Nguyen and Tra Vinh since 2008, which won first prize for agricultural management projects from India's Ministry of Communication and Information Technology last August.

Also on Nov. 10, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism presented the insignia “For the Cause of Culture, Sports and Tourism” to BMGF’s Global Libraries Initiative Director Jacobs./.