Monday, December 11, 2023

PH digital transformation lags behind Asean neighbors, says new book

The Philippines is lagging behind its Asean neighbors in terms of digital performance indicators, transformation, trade, connectivity, and innovation.

This was revealed by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) in its latest book, “Critical Issues in the Philippine Digital Economy” which offers valuable insights into the country’s digital economic landscape.

PIDS senior research fellows and book editors Connie Dacuycuy and Ramonette Serafica highlighted key themes and observations, shedding light on the state of the Philippine digital economy.

Dacuycuy said that while the digital economy has brought abundant social and financial prospects, its critical issues and challenges must be addressed.

Dacuycuy noted that gaps in service providers, costly ICT services, and limited security hinder the country’s progress in digital transformation, while socioeconomic and digital spatial divides limit people’s access and participation in the digital economy.

“Those who can invest in ICT skills are drawn to migrate to developed cities, leaving the less abled and less connected parts of the country. The lesson here is clear: people need to be on the right side of the divide to fully harness the benefits of the digital economy,” Dacuycuy said.

Serafica presented some recommendations to address the challenges and issues of the country’s digital economy. 

“To strengthen the foundations of the digital economy, the government must continue policy and regulatory reforms, invest in internet connectivity outside urban centers, and provide venture capital support for startups,” she said.

The editors noted that stakeholders need greater awareness of the government’s efforts for digitalization, and more information campaigns can boost confidence in digital transactions.

Serafica added that human capital deficits, a crucial issue, can be addressed by updating the curriculum, promoting women’s participation in e-commerce, and enhancing skills across digital industries.

Other recommendations include improving expertise in cybersecurity through capacity building, removing barriers to entry and growth of digital platforms, and providing funding and technical assistance to local governments for smart city development initiatives.

Serafica concluded that addressing the identified issues and establishing a strong foundation can unlock the full potential of the Philippines’ digital economy, bridge socioeconomic divides, and make the country a competitive player in the global digital landscape.

The book was co-published with the Canada-based International Development Research Centre and launched on June 22 as part of the National Information Communication Technology (ICT) month celebration.


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