ICT groups in Mindanao eye EAGA ICT projects

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/10 July) – Information Communication and Technology (ICT) Councils in Mindanao are eyeing exploratory “collaboration projects” to address the digital divide in the Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-the Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA), the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDa) reported.

The group is seeking a possible cooperation on ICT Development with Brunei Darussalam after Brunei International Gateway (BIG) launched its 1,000-day program, which aims to jumpstart the BIMP-EAGA Rink “collaboration project” during the 4th BIMP-EAGA CEO Forum, a private-sector led gathering of key private ICT players from all across the sub-region.

Under the program, the BIG will start with the formulation of feasibility study and setting-up of a consortium responsible for the implementation of the proposed BIMP-EAGA Rink project, a submarine cable route aims to expand connectivity of the sub region with the rest of Asian countries.

The “collaboration project” on setting up a BIMP-EAGA alternate international telecommunications link is being explored between BIG and Malaysia’s Sedcom Communication Sdn Bhd of Sabah.

The cities of Cagayan de Oro, Iligan, Gen. Santos and Davao have ICT Councils.

During the forum held in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan, Lizabel Holganza, President of ICT Council of Davao Inc., called on the private sector to explore the possibilities of offshore outsourcing opportunities.

“We need to have a balanced countryside development,” said Holganza as she encouraged her fellow private sector representatives to start tapping the areas of competitiveness of the sub region to allow Business Processing Outsourcing (BPO) to prosper.

Holganza, who is also the vice chair of the National ICT Confederation of the Philippines, pointed out that business process outsourcing has contributed greatly to the Philippine GDP.

Davao was identified as one of the Top 10 Next Wave Cities of BPO, according to her.

Last year, the Business Processing Association of the Philippines (BPAP), Commission on Information and Communications Technology (CICT), and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) named Davao City as  the country’s next wave city.

More sectors are now interested in the area of ICT this year, according to the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDa).

“ICT fora in the past used to be dominated by telecom companies, but more sectors grew more interested, specifically the Small and Medium Enterprises sector this year,” MinDa added.

It has been identified in the Mindanao 2020 Peace and Development framework Plan that ICT programs will widely increase trade and economic activities, and facilitate interaction in the island region.

“We are specifically looking at these programs to provide LGUs with a more efficient and computerized system, and to aid the SMEs in their business and marketing strategies,” said MinDA Chairperson Luwalhati Antonino, who is also the Philippine Signing Minister for BIMP-EAGA.

The proposed BIMP-EAGA submarine cable dubbed as the BIMP-EAGA Rink is an alternative routing either through satellite, microwave or fiber-optic that aims to facilitate direct interconnection and allow telecommunication services in BIMP-EAGA to expand, connect and diversify networks with the rest of the Asian countries, particularly Singapore and Hongkong.

The said submarine cable route will establish connectivity from Borneo Island to Mindanao, the cable link gateway in Southern Philippines. (Rico Biliran/MindaNews)