Getting connected-A A +A
Wednesday, September 26, 2012
THE ripple effect of the Negros First Cyber Center could be more than what the provincial government has bargained for.
When completed next year, the Center is expected to generate 5,250 business process outsourcing jobs for Negrenses and close to P14 billion in salaries over a 15-year period, said Negros Occidental Board Member Salvador Escalante.
There is however more to internet linkaging than to outsourcing. Every time I do some Facebooking, or email columns like these to Sun.Star, or read the news online, I contribute to our economic development. It’s even a patriotic duty to do Facebooking. I kid thee not.
A recent UN study bears me out. Each time I use the home or office broadband, I contribute to the 0.32 percent of our annual gross domestic product. The World Bank in+
2009 estimated that a 10 percent increase in broadband penetration would yield a 1.21 and 1.38 percent increase in gross domestic product (GDP) growth on average for high-income and low/middle-income countries respectively.
The Broadband Commission for Digital Development encouraged the Philippines to take steps to encourage internet usage, a significant driver to economic growth. “Given the importance of mobile in the economy of the Philippines, this would account for 6.9 percent of all GDP growth for the economy during the past decade,” the Broadband Commission argued.
To the internet-challenged readers, “broadband” refers to a telecommunications signal or device of greater bandwidth, in some sense, than another standard or usual signal or device such as dial-ups. The broader the band is the greater the capacity for internet traffic.
“Broadband is today a critical infrastructure in the growing global digital economy, and countries that fail to invest in broadband infrastructure risk being excluded from today’s online economy, as well as the next stage of the digital revolution and future Internet,” says the Broadband report.
Further: “Always-on connectivity can improve our lives in a myriad of ways by providing better access to health and education, enabling financial inclusion, facilitating m-payments, and creating transparency in government, as just a few examples.” Take it from the late DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo.
Last year, I managed a Southeast Asian wide conference consisting of participants from different Philippine provinces and countries such as Indonesia, Vietnam and even Papua New Guinea, with some participants all the way from South Asian countries such as Nepal, India, and Pakistan.
At a very small fraction of costs in organizing a conference. And the conference venue?
No swanky hotel but no skid-row building either. Just simply through the internet, using the power of broadbands. I stayed in Bacolod, and traveled to Manila only once to meet with my Nepali colleague who made a presentation at the Quezón City-based Asian Development Bank.
One of the major kinks, however, is that the Philippines is not investing enough in broadband connection. In the outlying far ends of the province, internet connection is spotty if non-existent.
No wonder the country remains a cellar dweller in nearly all criteria measuring internet adoption. In terms of internet penetration, only 29 percent of Filipinos had access to the web through various channels. The Philippines only had an average of 1.9 fixed internet connections per 100 people as of 2011, ranking it 101st out of 172 countries measured.
But the country is numero uno in one aspect: social media penetration. The country ended 2011 with a score of roughly 75 percent in terms of the number of social media accounts measured against the number of internet users. The percentage was well above the global average of around 60 percent.
Why should our national and local governments take heed of the Broadband report?
The Broadband Commission was formed by the UN Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization and the International Telecommunications Commission in 2010 in response to call to step-up efforts to meet Millennium Development Goals.
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Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on September 26, 2012.