Tap countryside’s ICT potentials for inclusive growth – ICT-Davao

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 20 Feb) – Harnessing the full potential of information and communication technology (ICT) in the countryside can be a strong driver of inclusive growth, according to Samuel Matunog, vice president for industry development of ICT-Davao, Inc.

The Smarter Philippines Program of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), an umbrella program for various ICT-driven projects, was launched Wednesday at The Marco Polo Davao.

Matunog said the program is “a blueprint to harness the full potential of the ICT for national development.”

He said it has a counterpart run in tandem with the private sector represented by the National ICT Confederation of the Philippines (NICP) called “Smarter Countryside.”

It aims to ensure that the benefits of ICT will be shared and promote inclusive growth, according to Matunog.

“The launching of the event in Davao underlines the fact that the countryside can be a strong driver of inclusive growth in ICT,” he said.

He said the city aims to be a center of ICT innovation in healthcare, governance, talent development, creative content, web services, and business process management.

“We also remain committed to and on trajectory with our job generation goal of 30,000 within a few years,” he said, citing that with Wit Holganza at the helm of NICP, “our dynamism will surely rub on the rest of the nation’s 45 ICT Councils.”

Science and Technology Secretary Mario Montejo said the ICT-enabled systems combined with scientific knowledge and local know-how “will provide more solutions to our persistent problems, and result in better lives for our people.”

He cited that the DOST’s Nationwide Operational Assessment of Hazards (NOAH) project is among the examples of Smarter Philippines for “smarter environment.”

Other core areas of the program are smarter cities, smarter governance, smarter economy, smarter mobility, smarter living and smarter people.

ICT can empower industries and agriculture to enhance their capabilities, said Alejandro P. Melchor III, deputy executive director for ICT Industry Development of DOST’s Information and Communications Technology Office (ICTO).

He said in a press statement that the local ICT industry has the opportunity to contribute $50 billion in direct revenues by 2016, aside from $150 billion in indirect investments in the economy, through real estate, transport and telecommunications, banking, taxes and others, especially with the tremendous and continuous support of the government to the industry.

“Smarter Philippines will fuel growth to the ICT industry and create big demand for engineering, content development, and domestic ICT industry,” Melchor added.

“There is no limit to the many ecosystems and infrastructures in which we can embed intelligence through science and technology,” Montejo said.

For Smarter Government, DOST-ICTO undersecretary Louis Casambre said the Integrated Government Philippines or iGovPhil project develops the infrastructure and applications to address the government’s need for interconnectivity and more efficient and transparent public service.

The iGovPhil will enhance the e-capabilities of the government in addressing the President’s call for transparency by putting relevant mechanisms to implement interactive, interconnected, and efficient government collaboration, according to Melchor.

The smarter initiatives also include the Medium-term Information and Communications Technology Harmonization Initiative (MITHI) of the Department of Budget and Management that “aims to bring about significant changes in the way government agencies function, interface with each other, and deliver its services to the Filipino people,” Casambre said.

For Smarter Cities, the Next Wave Cities Program creates career opportunities for the people by promoting areas in the provinces for destinations of business process outsourcing, he said.

Noting that Smarter Philippines is the “trademark program” of the DOST, Montejo said , “the word ‘smarter’ indicates the program will work towards more efficient and reliable services in several sectors in the country.” (Lorie Ann A. Cascaro / MindaNews)