ICT sector eyes $50B contribution to PH economy by 2016

MANILA, Philippines — The local Information and Communications Technology (ICT) industry is looking at contributing as much as $50 billion to the Philippine economy by 2016, bolstered particularly by gains made in the IT-business process outsourcing (IT-BPO) sector.

But such a goal can only be attained with direct support from the government, specifically in the areas of talent development, domestic ICT development, and ICT marketing and research, among others, according to various industry associations gathered in a workshop by the Information and Communications Technology Office (ICTO) of the Department of Science and Technology.

ICTO Deputy Executive Director Alejandro Melchor, however, assured the industry of constant funding support from the government, especially as the Philippines gears to overtake leading BPO destination hub India in the global offshoring field.

“With government support behind the ICT industry the upside for the country is tremendous,” Melchor said. “Other than the $50 billion in direct revenues we are also projecting $150 billion in indirect investments in the economy, through real estate, transport and telecommunications, banking, taxes and others.”

Groups present during the workshop include the Philippine Software Industry Alliance, the Philippine Computer Society, The Philippine Chamber of Telecommunications Operators, the ICT Association of the Philippines and the Business Process Association of the Philippines (BPAP).

This is the first time that industry associations and stakeholders from a broad section of the ICT industry were gathered with the objective of planning and mapping out strategies for the Industry after consultations for the development of the Philippine Digital Strategy (PDS) in 2010.

According to BPAP President Benedict Hernandez, the workshop brought the perspective that various players in the industry are “unified in achieving new heights in revenue and overall support of the economy.”

“We are grateful for the encouragement and support the government is providing the industry, [as well as] collaborating with other industry associations [in the country],” Hernandez said.

DICT for a more vibrant economy

However, according to Senator Edgardo Angara, such vibrant gains in the local ICT industry could only be achieved by having a centralized agency taking care of industry matters, which he is pushing for through the creation of the Department of ICT.

In a separate statement, Angara highlighted how ICT is getting more and more embedded into the everyday lives of Filipinos, especially with growing broadband and Internet penetration in the country.

“I am convinced that a DICT will be essential in ensuring that the benefits of ICT become all the more far-reaching and transformative,” the veteran lawmaker said.

While some technological advances in e-learning, telemedicine and modern disaster response systems have been rolled out in the country, Angara maintained that the establishment of the DICT “improves the chances for these developments to take root, blossom and flourish in our country.”

“Clearly, segments that explicitly deal with ICT such as the IT-BPO industry will benefit from a DICT,” explained Angara. “But the benefits of the vibrant use of ICT extend well beyond these sectors and can boost other areas like agriculture, public health, education and disaster management and risk reduction.”

Angara is the principal author and sponsor of Senate Bill No. 50, otherwise known as the DICT bill, which reorganizes the communications-related agencies of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) into the DICT.

Having been approved in both the Senate and the House, the measure will still have to undergo bicameral conference before it is transmitted to Malacañang and signed into law.