By Espie Angelica A. de Leon
The Philippines made a pitch to the international business community in a bid to win over more investors to the country at the CommunicAsia 2017 Summit, the region?s largest ICT event held from May 23-25 at the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore.
The Philippine delegation, led by the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), presented the business opportunities and value propositions available in the Philippines at a seminar dubbed ?Philippines Connect?, one of the seminars and forums included in CommunicAsia 2017?s lineup.
Philippine ambassador to Singapore Antonio A. Morales launched the country?s marketing pitch by revealing that the Philippine GDP grew by 6.8 percent in 2016, one of the fastest in Asia.
Morales followed this up by saying that the Philippines also has the fastest growing Internet user population in the world. From 37 percent in 2013, Internet penetration in the country climbed to 43.5 percent in 2016. He added that the country is also now becoming known as the social networking capital of the world.
Meanwhile, Philippine Trade and Investment Center ? Singapore commercial counselor Glenn G. Penaranda cited the country?s young workforce, with the median age being 23.4 years old, as one of the country?s major value propositions.
Another is its rich talent pool, consisting of English speaking, highly-educated, customer-oriented, and highly trainable workers who can easily adapt to a universal culture.
The other value propositions cited by Penaranda are the country?s improving global competitiveness ranking, investment incentives, strategic location, rural development, and state-of-the-art infrastructure in both the major business districts of Metro Manila and in the regions as well.
In fact, said Penaranda, several IT-BPM companies are now moving into these rural areas, some of which are even growing faster than Metro Manila.
The IT-BPM industry itself is a goldmine of opportunities for both local and foreign investors, employing almost 1.2 million people in the country, said DICT undersecretary Monchito B. Ibrahim.
By the end of 2016, the industry will be worth $22.9 billion and employing 1.14 million Filipinos,? revealed Philippine Software Industry Association President Jonathan de Luzuriaga.
He added that over the years, the industry has expanded by leaps and bounds from being merely composed of call centers and transcription companies to one that includes non-voice jobs and other specializations.
Among these are animation, game development, healthcare information management, and software development for banking and financial services, technology, retail, and manufacturing.
?We are one of the best producers of animators in the world,? said de Luzuriaga as he cited the strong performances of each IT-BPM sector in 2016.
Meanwhile, Ibrahim laid out DICT?s various programs for providing access to ICT infrastructure and services, sustaining the growth of ICT-enabled industries, and propelling the Philippines into becoming a world-class digital economy.
These include the National Cybersecurity Plan, the National Broadband Plan which serves as a blueprint in the acceleration of the deployment of fiber optic cables and wireless technologies, the National Privacy Commission, the Free Wi-Fi Project, digitalPH, and iGov.
Penaranda revealed that other industries which have shown positive developments are agriculture and services, each one generating jobs and helping to fuel the Philippine economy.
Meanwhile, foreign direct investments jumped by 41 percent from 2015, with many of these investments earmarked for energy, manufacturing, and real estate.
OFW remittances also contributed significantly to economic growth. ?In the first quarter of this year, the economy has grown by 6.4 percent which is also one of the highest in the region, next only to China,? said Penaranda.