NOT everyone in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) region would benefit from a digital society.
But Philippiness information and communications technology (ICT) chief Louis Casambre wants everyone in Asean to try to at least grow a digital society benefiting majority of the expected Year 2020 population of 600 million.
“It is important for the digital society [that] we are creating should be inclusive to all,” Casambre said in his keynote address during a forum by the Internet Society (Isoc) held recently in Mandaluyong City.
Despite some challenges in building its digital infrastructure, Casambre said the Philippines has achieved major gains in building inclusive growth through the digital economy route. He mentioned the high penetration rate of mobile phones-approximately 98 million-as an indication that a huge number of Filipinos are connected through the mobile technology.
He added the business-process outsourcing (BPO) industry is a major player as it employs 1 million Filipinos directly.
Casambre, executive director of the ICT office, also forecast that revenues of the BPO sector, which is aiming to hit the $25-billion mark, can surpass the overseas Filipino workers remittance, which has hit nearly $27 billion last year.
However, Casambre said providing Internet connectivity to some public elementary and high schools remains a challenge to the government. Further, he said the Philippines also need to beef up its wireless fidelity (Wi-Fi) connectivity for the majority of Filipinos.
“For 2016 we are proposing to expand the coverage of Wi-Fi to all cities to achieve faster transaction and improve ways communicating.”
Casambre added his office has also proposed to the national government the establishment of 14 Internet peering facilities in the country.
The Isoc forum also released a report urging Asean members Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam to implement concrete steps that would harness the full potential of the Internet.
In addition, the Isoc said the steps could transform Asean member-economies into a highly competitive, single market and production base.
“It is no overstatement to say that the successful launch of the Asean economic community will depend upon the ability of the Asean nations to interconnect,” Isoc Regional Bureau Director for Asia Pacific Rajnesh Singh said.
“However, the benefits of a shift from the economies of scale of an Internet economy to the economies of scope of a digital economy will be truly transformative.”
The Isoc report titled on “Unleashing the Internets Potential for Asean Economies” takes stock of the Internet infrastructure of the region and outlines the actions necessary to support the Internet connectivity goals of the AEC blueprint. That document reveals a comprehensive agenda for the economic transformation of the region.