Saturday, March 20, 2010

Updating The Philippine ICT Strategic Roadmap

The field of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) is highly dynamic and changes come at a very fast pace that nobody can predict what will come next. The Philippines as a country has to catch up with ICT changes if it wants to remain competitive with the rest of the world and get a good share of the opportunities that the technology offers. The Commission on Information and Communications Technology (CICT) is the government agency tasked with formulating the policies that would make the country in-step and competitive in the ICT world.

The country's current ICT roadmap was crafted by CICT in 2006 and covers the period until this year so the agency decided to start updating the document and a kick-off forum with the representatives of concerned sectors in attendance
was held the whole-day yesterday at CICT Audio-Visual Room in Diliman, Quezon City. The forum attendees were briefed on the current  status of various ICT initiatives like those in business process outsourcing, electronic government services and cyber security. The presentation of each sector included their recommendations on the policies that they want to be included in the next roadmap.

In the case of the internet café industry, there was no mention of it whatsoever in the 2006 to 2010 roadmap. Providing affordable internet access to the public is among the primary goals of CICT but they envisioned to do this through the so-called Community e-Center (CeC). As if it's not enough that seventy (70%) of access to the internet by Filipinos are done in i-cafés, CICT targeted to have one (1) CeC in each town and city of the country according to the current  roadmap. Personally, I wonder how one (1) CeC can provide affordable access to the people of a town or city unless such CeC have enough number of computers to serve the needs of residents in a locality.

I-Café Pilipinas, as the national advocacy body for the internet café industry, has long been recommending the adoption of some qualified i-cafés for recognition as the equivalent of a CeC in a town or city. We have cited all the advantages of doing this move from the government's not having to spend on the equipment up to the center's sustainability due to its owner's inherent desire to stay in business.

For all intents and purposes, and due to i-cafés inherent role in providing affordable (sometimes charitable) internet access to the public, I-Café Pilipinas is insisting the inclusion of the internet café industry in the next ICT roadmap. If accepted, we truly believe that our suggestions and proposals could really help make better business for i-cafés.


  1. I agree on the public interest character of community based internet cafes...and its potential for pushing universal access, as well as alternatives that will benefit more people (e.g., use of Free/Open Source Software)...

    As you know, CSOs like ours have been pushing to fill in the large gaps in the current roadmap, and we will help push your recommendation too...

    However am still a bit skeptical on how the current CICT is planning on doing this within the limited window before a new administration comes in...

  2. Thank you, Al. We take note of your comments. The least that the current CICT leadership could do is to endorse the policies that would be discussed in the current planning for the next ICT roadmap.


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