The lack of updated data on crucial aspects in the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector leads to a heap of issues impeding national competitiveness. This is the resounding conclusion derived from the recently concluded E-Government Development Index Forum held at Quezon City last October 6, 2015.
One of these issues is the apparent large decrease in the country’s E-Government Development Index (EGDI) score over a course of ten years, from 2004’s 0.5260 to 0.4768 in 2014, despite numerous ICT initiatives launched to boost national E-Government readiness both for the government and the public.
The E-Government Development Index is an assessment of the E-Government development status among the 193 member states of the United Nations. Lead by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA), a survey is done every two years using a normalized method comparing the nations’ use of ICT in increasing efficiency of public administration, enhancing public service and expanding communication channels to empower their people.
The EGDI is a composite measure of three relevant aspects to the use of ICT in governance:
- Online Services Index – provision of online services
- Telecommunication Infrastructure Index – telecommunication connectivity
- Human Capital Index – public’s capacity to adopt ICT
This Index serves as a tool for policy making and an important indicator by which many foreign investors base their decisions on whether investing in a country or not. This makes improving the Philippines’ EGDI standing a major concern for levelling up our competitiveness rating.
The organizers, the National ICT Governance Service Program Monitoring, Evaluation, and Statistical Coordination Division of the DOST-ICT Office, firmly believes that a more efficient data monitoring, gathering and synthesis would improve the country’s score and overall ranking.
In line with this, they presented in the forum plans to update and maintain a centralized online statistics board called the Philippine ICT Statistical Portal (PHICTS). The PHICTS portal, aims to collect necessary data not just for calculating the EGDI, but also in more effective designing of policies and national ICT strategies. To complete this endeavour, they have gathered representatives from both government and private agencies that play key roles in developing the country’s ICT environment.
Among the participants was the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) who emphasized the need for the private telcos to provide sufficient updated data including data on usage, subscription and coverage of their mobile and fixed line services.
Globe telecoms, one of the two largest telcos in the Philippines, attended the forum and answered this appeal with his word of confidence. Although Mr. Verb Bonilla, Head of Programs for Globe’s E-Government Team, did not participate in the ceremonial signing of commitment, he gave his word to help the government in gathering necessary information for the brought forth initiative.
Attendees were unanimous in agreement on the need for fresh statistical data to accurately measure the Philippines’ readiness and usage of ICT in governance. Concerns were, however, brought up regarding the complete participation from the private sector. This is especially because of the absence of any representatives from the biggest telco in the country, the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT).