The Philippines is second over performer in ICT deployment, skills, research and development (R&D), industry activity and access to finance, according to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development’s (UNCTAD) Technology and Innovation Report 2021 published last February 25.

“This achievement is made possible by the concerted efforts of the government, including your DICT. We are deeply elated by this achievement because it means that we are now beginning to reap the fruits of our efforts,” Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) Secretary Gregorio B. Honasan II said.

The report provides a “country readiness index” in the use of frontier technologies. These include artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), big data, blockchain, 3D printing, robotics, drones, gene editing, 5G, nanotechnology and solar photovoltaics (PV).

According to the report, “the over performance of a nation is measured by the difference between the actual index ranking and the estimated index ranking based on per capita income.” The Philippines was among the few developing countries that has exhibited stronger capabilities to use, adopt, and adapt frontier technologies than its per capita income.

Other countries in the top five include India, Ukraine, Vietnam and China.

UNCTAD’s Technology and Innovation Report 2021, however, has also warned countries of the rise of inequality brought by a new wave of technological change. The report urged developing countries to work towards universal Internet access and ensure all their citizens have opportunities to learn the skills required for frontier technologies.

“We at the DICT recognize the reality of the problem presented in the report. Rest assured that we are committed in further strengthening our Digital Connectivity as well as our Digital Education, Skills and Jobs initiatives in the new normal to bridge the digital gap brought into sharper focus by the coronavirus disease 2019 or COVID-19 pandemic,” Secretary Honasan stated.

At present, the DICT is implementing three major connectivity programs including the National Broadband Program (NBP), the Free Wi-Fi for All Program, and the Common Tower Initiative. These are expected to improve Internet quality and coverage in the country.

For Digital Education, Skills and Jobs, the DICT is implementing the Digital Learners and Teachers Project that intends to address the pressing challenges in the delivery of basic education in the new normal.

The DICT also endeavors to provide a platform for the upskilling and reskilling of Filipino workers to help them thrive in Information Technology (IT) and IT-enabled sectors through the ICT Academy Project under the Digital Workforce Initiative. The DICT also targets to upgrade its Tech4ED centers into Digital Transformation Centers (DTCs) to serve as shared facilities for the efficient delivery of training and services.

The DICT likewise implements the Digital Cities 2025 Project, which targets to boost the IT-BPO Industry in localities.