Experts: Digitally driven economic development possible with multi-sectoral collaboration

AT the core of economic recovery and development lies a stable digital infrastructure across the country, with the government, private sector, and civil society working together and complementing each other’s strengths.

This was the essence of the virtual business roundtable discussion called Promoting Broad-Based Prosperity Through Digital Infrastructure, recently organized by the Stratbase ADR Institute in partnership with consumer advocacy group CitizenWatch Philippines.

“No single player possesses all the resources to make this happen,” said Stratbase ADR Institute President Professor Victor Andres “Dindo” Manhit, who delivered the opening remarks during the forum. “Collaboration needs to happen. The results could be harnessed into inclusive development opportunities for the Filipino people and the Filipino nation, in our pursuit of being a new power player in the global digital economy.”

Engr. Derick Dimla, Manager and Head of Globe Telecom’s Network Technology Innovations, said technology-driven development has several key components: infrastructure, digital transformation, innovation, and talent development.

For the Ayala group, he said, this goes beyond providing connectivity. “It is engaging partnerships, building and developing ecosystems, and having purpose-driven, inclusive innovation.”

He also emphasized that connectivity is not all about speed. “It has to be consistent, reliable, secure, available and accessible to all.”

John Gonzales, Chief Commercial Officer of ePLDT, talked about the company’s international submarine and terrestrial cable network, including the recently launched Jupiter cable system.

“This will help boost the country’s international capacity, boost trade of digital services, drive our digital economy, and at the same time, increase Internet speeds and reliability for the Filipinos. This will help make the Philippines become a key player in the global hyper scale arena,” he said.

Gonzales added PLDT is working with the government to scale up e-services in the public sphere. “E-government services can improve the current siloed cloud services in various government agencies, creating a sovereign community.”

“We need to prepare for the evolution of new generation technologies, put in place a strong digital governance framework, and create a conducive environment for online gig workers and other players like start-ups and other enterprises,” said Ms. Cosette Canilao, President and CEO of Aboitiz InfraCapital.

To be able to do this, the public and private sectors, academe, NGOs, and the wider cyber community need to have a coordinated approach in addressing gaps in this whole ecosystem so we can be truly effective, she said.

Microsoft Philippines CEO Peter Maquera said digital skilling—empowering every person by ensuring that everyone has the skills, the knowledge, and the opportunity to succeed in the digital economy—is crucial to achieving inclusive prosperity.