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Philippines to Launch Community e-Center Roadmap
Source: futuregov.asia
Source Date: Thursday, November 18, 2010
Focus: Institution and HR Management
Country: Philippines
Created: Nov 18, 2010

The Philippines government has devised a new roadmap for its Community eCentres programme to help bridge the digital divide, focusing on infrastructure and capacity building.

Discussing progress made in the agency’s goal to bring ICT to communities, Chairman of Philippine Community eCenter (CeC) Network, Dr Angelo Ramos, told delegates at the FutureGov Forum in Manila that there were many obstacles in the rollout.

“Connectivity is still a challenge for the country especially in providing internet or broadband access to municipalities.”

Ramos said that President Benigno Aquino had suggested a goal of providing a CeC in each of the 42,011 barangays, which he considered “a big task”.

A draft of the CeC Roadmap for 2011-2016 has been completed, focusing on CeC development and management, content development, capability building, technology solutions and advocacy and promotion.

Ramos said that existing CeCs needed better servicing in terms of connectivity and human resources, but added that the agency was also looking at transforming internet cafes and post offices into CeCs to address infrastructure shortfalls.

“It’s a social mission in providing internet connectivity to the citizens, so we also look into partnering with the post offices to be converted into CeCs.”

The goal of the Philippine Government’s Commission on ICT (CICT) is to put a CeC into each of the country’s 1,514 municipalities. Since May 1065 CeCs have been operational nationwide.

In the last three years the CICT has established 200 new CeC sites across the country, with more than 150 sites identified and approved.

In the Philippines, the personal computer ratio is 3,684 per 100,000 people according to the National Statistics Office. Only 10 per cent of all households have a desktop.

Ramos said that the CeC Network had difficulty installing CeCs because of a shortage of electricity in some municipalities.

Only around 70 per cent of all municipalities, barangays and sitios have electricity. At the national level, 16 per cent of all families have no electricity.

Another challenge in installing CeCs is the geography of the Philippines, as an archipelago composed of islands reaching all communities is a challenge, Ramos said.

“The opportunity for ICT to reach municipalities from far flung areas might be provided by the internet through mobile phones,” he added.

Smart Communications, the Philippines’ leading wireless services provider has 1.2 million subscribers for mobile internet applications. More than 700,000 Philipinos are using mobile broadband services, while Globe Telecom has 379,000 internet subscribers across the Philippines.

The CICT and its partners have a programme to train CeC knowledge workers to manage CeCs in the municipalities. They are working towards supplying 95 equipment grants, 20 connectivity grants, 75 scholarship grants and conducting 60 Study Visit Exchange Programs.

Ramos said: “The Philippines is way ahead compared to other telecenter networks in the world, because we were able to set our own Philippine eCenter academy.”

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