Friday, November 27, 2009

The Internet Café Industry Is Slowly Getting The Recognition That It Deserves

By: Gener Morada

In the last two weeks, I had the chance to attend three (3) events where it was shown that our work in I-Café Pilipinas is slowly being recognized by the other sectors in the ICT industry. During the period we released our Strategic Roadmap for the Development of the Internet Café Industry for 2010 to 2012 which has won high praises from the people who had the chance to read it.

Last November 17, 2009 I took part in the workshop on “Rural ICT Policy Advocacy, Knowledge-Sharing, and Capacity-Building” which was conducted by the Asian Development Bank. The workshop was a kick off ceremony in which the ADB consultants formulated the framework of the study taking into consideration the role of the internet café into the whole ICT ecosystem.
On November 26, 2009, I attended the MOA signing ceremony between the International Open Source Network and the Asean Foundation with regards to the propagation of the use of Free and Open Source Software in the Asean Region at the Board Room of the University of the Philippines Manila. We are now in the process of creating a proposal for the development of a business model using Free and Open Source Software in the internet café setting. This topic would be included in the FOSS capacity building workshop that will be sponsored by the Asean Foundation through the IOSN that would be held in Baguio City in January of 2010.

And lastly, on November 27, 2009, I had the chance to take part in the workshop that was organized by the World Bank to discuss their findings on the study that they had funded for the Commission on Information and Communication Technology and the National Telecommunication Commission entitled “Policy Options to Stimulate ICT Universal Service.” Part of their recommendation would be to increase the role of the internet cafes at the community level to provide greater access by the community for internet related services. According to them it would be more cost effective for government to recognized internet cafes as ICT centers rather than creating their own in the unserved places in the Philippines. In which I had informed them that we are now already doing some exploratory talks with the National Computer Center to initiate such a project.

During the event I was able to network with Ms. Justina Advina, OIC Director of the National Economic and Development Authority –Information Coordination Staff, who informed me that the NEDA would be including the representatives from the internet café industry during the workshops that would be conducted by the NEDA next year for the development of the Medium Development Plan for the Philippines which they customarily do whenever a new president takes office.

The same event provided an opportunity to get in touch again with Director Philip Varilla of the Commission on Information and Communication Technology in which he informed me that they are now collaborating on a program with the Department of Education in which they are digitizing the textbooks being used by the public school system. He is hoping that we could do collaborative work with the commission and DepEd dealing with student access to these resources once the project starts rolling.

Director Trish Abejo, Chief of Staff of the Secretary of the Commission of Information and Communication Technology informed me that she is organizing a meeting with the Commissioners of the Cyber Services Group and the ICT Infrastructure Group to discuss the role of the internet cafes to the whole ICT infrastructure of the country. Meeting would be held on the second week of December, 2009.

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