You have to love the naiveté of the people at the Ministry of Science and Technology, few of which have ever been involved with either. According to today’s Inside Telecom column in El Universal by Victor Suarez, the Ministry has various ambitious projects in the drawing board:
-The Bolivarian PC: The Ministry is drawing up a “national Hardware Plan” which includes a project to assemble in Venezuela 20,000 of the 150,000 PC’s that the government plans to acquire in 2005. Since there are no local components for it, it will all be imported and the computer will be called the “Computador Popular Bolivariano” or Compubol. The plan is to eventually assemble up to a million units.
According to the report, representatives from the Ministry have talked to Intel and AMD, but the motherboards are too expensive. Thus, they are now in contact with Indian and Chinese manufacturers who obviously use the same microprocessors.
I have to wonder what the competitive advantage these people find in Venezuela is. It is not salaries as Venezuelan salaries are low, but now low enough and the laws are too protective of workers. It is not technology, as Venezuela has zero, as in zip, technology to contribute to such a project, we don’t even make video tubes.
What will be gained from this? Experience in manufacturing? This was already tried by the private sector who found that it moves too fast to be competitive and there are few competitive advantages. Can Venezuela produce a PC cheaper than then $200 PC Wal-Mart sells? I doubt it. But even if it could, I would let the private sector do it anyway.
-Informatics goals for 2010: The Ministry has also established some goals for Venezuela’s informatics infrastructure by 2010. I will not argue the details of the goals, they are all highly desirable. My question is they realistic?
Just one of them shows how unrealistic these goals are:
-To have (by 2010) a highly developed internet commerce system
Well, the company I work for owns one of the most successful e-tailers in Venezuela. It ahs been opened for five years. It will be closing on Christmas day. Why? Many reasons but among them, lack of purchasing power by Venezuelans, lack of penetration of the Internet, lack of penetration of the banking system, lack of penetration of credit and debit cards and no economies of scale. Once again, if the private sector can’t, can the Government? Doubt it.