Smarter technologies and capabilities made possible by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), are out to bolster the Philippines’ global competitiveness amid forecasts that the country will rise as the world’s 16th largest economy, leaping 27 places from its current position.

In his presentation during the recent opening of the North Luzon leg of the Regional Science and Technology Week (RSTW) at the Benguet State University in La Trinidad, Benguet, Alejandro Melchor III, executive director of DOST’s Information Communication Technology Office (DOST-ICTO), revealed that the world is now looking at the Philippines and other Asian countries as the fastest growing economies.

“Who will deliver the fastest growth in 2050? Number one, China, traditional; second, India, and surprisingly, the Philippines,” exclaimed Melchor.

Smarter Philippines

DOST leverages these projections to prepare the country towards this global economic shift as it directs the journey toward a “Smarter Philippines,” a program which will enable the country to achieve global competitiveness by developing and deploying smarter technologies. In particular, Smarter Philippines aims to enhance capabilities and thus give local and global investors more options to invest in agriculture, industries, governance, climate change adaptation, human capability, jobs creation, healthcare, and micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).

For smarter farming, the program will address perennial problems in rice sufficiency, mango productivity, livestock and fish productions, and improvement of coconut yield via enhancement of the fruit’s genetic makeup. Coconut is one of the country’s most promising crops, generating $1.45B in annual revenues.

Smarter MSMEs will strengthen the sector by providing innovative, cost-effective and appropriate technologies that enable MSMEs to develop and produce competitive products that meet world-class standards.

Meanwhile, Smarter Industries will provide state-of-the-art facilities and capabilities which will enable local industries to move up the value chain and attain global competitiveness.

For the electronics and semiconductor sectors, DOST unveiled the Advanced Device Materials and Testing Laboratory earlier this year to enhance their productivity.

Furthermore, Smarter Industries will also help widen the global market share of the local business process outsourcing (BPO) industry which is poised to attain world leadership in four more fast-growing BPO services namely healthcare information management, finance and accounting, human resources and creative process outsourcing. Further strengthening the capabilities of the BPO industry is DOST’s Next Wave Cities Program which will ensure that BPO employment will be spread throughout the country.

To achieve good governance and transparency, Smarter Government will provide an ICT-based transformation of governance and the delivery of government services and information. Projects such as IGov Philippines, a secured online government payment services and TV white space, and an internet connectivity using untapped UHF and VHF TV channels, will provide innovative government services to people, even in the countryside.

To address the absence of public doctors especially in far-flung areas of the country, technologies such as the RXBox, a portable medical device that could check the patient’s electrocardiogram or ECG, heart rate, blood, pulse rate and blood oxygenation, can provide immediate diagnosis by transmitting the test results to affiliated medical doctors through the internet or mobile phones.

Global seismic shift

According to Dir. Melchor, an Asian Development Bank survey showed that the combined gross domestic products of ASEAN, China and India could quadruple and exceed the combined US and European economies in the coming years. Meanwhile, the region’s share in world investments is projected to reach 40%. “Every $100B of world investments, $40B will go to the Asian region,” Dir. Melchor said.

The DOST-ICTO official also mentioned a global research by the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation indicating that by 2050, world attention will turn to “new emergers” as the world economy undergoes a seismic shift.

Seismic shift refers to a global economic transformation from the economic superpower countries to new and emerging economies.

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