Manila is Asean laggard in ICT development, report shows

By Cai U. Ordinario, BusinessMirror

Posted at Feb 10 2014 07:45 AM | Updated as of Feb 10 2014 03:45 PM

MANILA - The Philippines, even with its lofty billing as the “social networking capital of the world,” still lags behind its Southeast Asian neighbors in terms of information and communications technology (ICT) development, the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) said.

NSCB Secretary-General Jose Ramon Albert cited data from the Measuring the Information Society Report 2013, which showed that the country only ranked seventh among Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) member-economies.

Albert said the Philippines only had an ICT Development Index (IDI) of 3.34. It only bested Cambodia, Lao PDR and Myanmar, which had IDI scores of 2.30, 2.10 and 1.74, respectively.

“With this rank, the Philippines is the lowest among the largest economies in the Asean. It might be a concern that we have been outranked by Vietnam since 2010 and in 2011, Indonesia outranked us, as well,” Albert said.

Albert said in terms of Internet use, only four out of 10, or 36.2 percent of Filipinos, used the Internet in 2012. He said while the country’s Internet penetration rate improved between 2000 and 2012, the country also lags behind its Asean neighbors in this indicator.

He said the data showed Singapore topped the list with 74.2 percent, followed by Malaysia and Brunei Darussalam with 65.8 percent and 60.3 percent, respectively. At the bottom of the list is Myanmar with only 1.1 percent of its population using the Internet.

“Despite the remarkable increase in Internet-penetration rate from 2000 to 2012 in the Philippines, its rank vis-à-vis its Asean neighbors, however, has not improved at all. The Philippines ranked fifth in 2012 (the same rank in 2000) among the 10 AMS [Asean member-states],” Albert said.

The low Internet-penetration rate could be linked to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) estimates that only 10.1 percent of households in the Philippines have Internet access, lower than 12.5 percent in Vietnam and 65 percent in Brunei Darussalam.

Albert said data also showed that Singapore has an 84.8-percent Internet- penetration rate among its households and Malaysia has 64.7 percent.

“Statistics show a rosy picture of the status of ICT usage and access in the Philippines. However, as some major ICT indicators are not available, the picture may not be convincing at all. Indicators such as Internet bandwidth, wireless broadband subscription, Internet access tariffs, contribution of ICT to the economy are still wanting in the Philippines’s statistical system,” Albert said.

The NSCB explained that the digital divide can be understood as the difference in ICT access and use between countries, between regions, or between other groupings that share common characteristics.

The NSCB, a statistical agency functionally attached to the National Economic and Development Authority, is the highest policy-making and coordinating body on statistical matters in the Philippines.