INFORMATION and Communication Technologies (ICT) have an important role in national and local development. If harnessed properly, it can be a powerful enabler of development and its impact can substantially enhance the ability of stakeholders to address a full range of development goals and challenges.

In the past, ICT initiatives targeting specific development goals have proved successful in both regional and national scale. The World Economic Forum acknowledges the role information and communications technologies (ICT) are playing as a "critical enabler to sustainable socio-economic growth and also a vital ingredient for effective regional co-ordination in the creation of larger markets."

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That ICTs can make an important contribution to growth is evident from the impact they have made in the economy of Davao City. With a highly talented workforce, the city offers a cost effective and accessible business environment to position itself as the next big destination for ICT organizations.

Davao City now ranks among the country's top 10 New Wave Cities. Out of 31 cities nationwide, it ranked second highest in ICT infrastructure and cost of doing business. It is the premier cosmopolitan and business hub of Southern Philippine Cyber Corridor.

Outsourcing and exports of IT and software services are becoming an important source of economic activity and income. This trend will continue to grow and will contribute significantly to the increase in ICT-related exports in the country.

The adoption of ICT by companies requires an environment that encourages open competition, trust and security, interoperability and standardization, and the availability of finance for ICT. This requires the implementation of sustainable measures to improve access to the Internet and telecommunications and increase IT literacy at large, as well as development of local Internet content and strengthen the local base.

However, the nature of the inter-sectoral links remains unclear. Much of this state is due to the lack of clarity on how ICT should be propelled and harnessed. At the same time, the challenge to integrate e-strategies into the overall policy framework remains.

There are several concerns. For one, the strategies to improve access to ICT include liberalizing local markets to foster competition and create a supportive institutional development.

The extent of success or failure of ICT interventions to enable development will depend on how national and the local government, development actors, academe, media and other public agencies conceptualize ICT and its role in development. The challenge is on how to move forward in an integrated manner to ensure that its full potential can be harnessed. Email comments to roledan@gmail.com