PHUKET CITY: A branch of the Software Industry Promotion Agency (SIPA) will open on March 1 at Saphan Hin – the first small step toward the island’s much-imagined golden future as an IT hub. Manoo Ordeedolchest, President of SIPA, told the Gazette, “The Board of Investment and the provincial government will be responsible for setting up and running a one-stop service center to help foreign investors with such matters as immigration issues and work permits. In addition, he said, the Communications Authority of Thailand will open an Internet gateway in Phuket at the end of this year and the Telephone Organization of Thailand will install more high-speed Internet connections. “E-commerce, animation and multimedia software will be promoted,” K. Manoo said, “along with whatever else the market demands.” A pilot program will be launched soon with the aim of developing the animation and multimedia skills of local people, he said, and SIPA would cooperate with local administrative bodies to provide IT systems and to apply technology in local businesses. The Minister of Information and Communications Technology (ICT), Dr Surapong Suebwonglee, is expected to perform the honors when the SIPA office is opened in a building belonging to the Prince of Songkhla University (PSU). Rattana Wetprasit, Deputy Director for Academic Affairs at the university, said PSU would cooperate with SIPA to organize a Thailand Animation Multimedia Camp, with the aim of training 200 people in graphic design on computers. She said PSU itself also planned to organize more courses to teach people programming. Also on the agenda is the eventual development of a software park in the same area as the SIPA office.
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