Despite advances in technology in the Philippines, the local economy remains lethargic in comparison to the growth of the technology industry. Furthermore, technological progress is not in sync with that of the national economy, thus creating more challenges than opportunities.
This is according to a paper presented during the forum ?The Philippine Internet: 20 Years: Anticipating Its Next? held recently at the Crowne Plaza in Ortigas, Pasig City.
The report, ?The Connected World: Greasing the Wheels of the Internet Economy,? was released by the US-based The Boston Consulting Group (BGC) in January this year but was presented in the Philippines just recently.
The study, commissioned by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), indicated the amount of ?e-friction? or affected areas that impede on the growth of digitally-driven economies.
There are 55 indicators spread across four areas: infrastructure, individual, industry, and information.
According to BGC, e-friction refers to ?the factors that can inhibit consumers, businesses and others from fully participating in the national and the international Internet economy.?
The BGC collates the data from 65 countries to create an index. From here, the data show that the digital economies of the countries are directly affected by the amount of e-friction that they experience. The BGC report notes that a reduction in e-friction has direct correlation to economic development.
The index shows that the Philippines is ranked 47th among all the countries. Per area, the Philippines ranked 53rd in infrastructure, 42nd in industry, 45th in individual, and 25th in information.
Meanwhile, the top five countries with the lowest e-friction are Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Switzerland, and Hong Kong. The bottom five countries are Vietnam, Bangladesh, Egypt, Pakistan, and Nigeria.
Being an archipelago, the Philippines has found it harder to pursue infrastructure development. In fact, infrastructure is described by the BGC as a ?critical? component of e-friction and this explains the country?s low ranking in the category.
Speaking at the forum, ICANN vice president for global stakeholder engagement Christopher Mondini stressed that having thousands of islands with their own distinct population makes it harder to build more necessary infrastructure to reach people.
Roads and bridges result in increased production and distribution of goods as well as people, which eventually leads to establishing other necessary infrastructure such as telecommunications.
?It?s not easy to build infrastructure but the government must also look at long-term investments if they are to grow the economy.?
For her part, Judith Duavit Vazquez, the first Asian female board member of ICANN and the organizer of the Internet forum, said the report should provide a glimpse as to the problems besetting development of the Internet in the Philippines.
She called on the government, industries, the academe, and other concerned institutions to work together in reducing e-friction in the Philippines.
?We have identified the problems and we have the tools to solve these problems. The data should already rally our institutions to contribute in finding solutions. The Internet is a tool to national development,? Judith said.