THE government and the private sector should work closely together to “unlock and exploit” the true value of connectivity, infrastructure and technology in the Philippines as tech-driven developments are key to the country’s economic recovery and growth, an expert said.

Speaking at the “Promoting Broad-Based Prosperity Through Digital Infrastructure” forum on Wednesday organized by Stratbase ADR Institute and CitizenWatch Philippines, engineer Derick Dimla, manager and head of Globe’s network technology innovations, highlighted the critical role of tech-driven development in accelerating economic growth in the Philippines.

“We are in the digital information age and tech-driven development is key to economic recovery and growth,” he said.

Dimla explained that there is a vast convergence of data, information and communication technology (ICT) in the digital age. The importance of digital technology and ICT was highlighted and it took a global pandemic to realize how crucial and important digital technology and ICT are in the daily lives of people.

From digital finance, e-consultation, e-commerce, digital learning, entertainment and connecting to loved ones, Dimla emphasized that digital technology became the answer to everyday Filipino woes. Fiber connectivity, communication tools, payroll solutions, logistics trackers and learning sessions were also made easy for micro, small and medium enterprises via digital technology.

To make digital transformation happen, Dimla noted the need for effective collaboration between the national and local governments, and the players from the private sector to address the ever-increasing need for connectivity as working and learning have shifted to online for most Filipinos.

“We’ll need the relevant framework policies and partnership to happen at the right pace so we need the help of our LGUs (local government units), the different stakeholders, the private companies, the private sectors to collaborate and bring those policies as industry practices so that we can develop even more solutions for our Filipino people,” he said.

The Philippines needs an improved internet infrastructure and connectivity — one that is consistent, reliable, secure and accessible for all, Dimla stressed. He noted, however, that technology need not be the latest. Any existing technology may do in terms of addressing business problems.

This was echoed by Victor Andres “Dindo” Manhit, founder and managing director of the Stratbase Group, who stressed that the Philippines should transform and be open to new ways of doing business to be globally competitive. He said digital infrastructure are an important prerequisite for the growth of and access to emerging digital technologies and innovations.

Moreover, public-private partnerships (PPPs) have proven to be an integral component of the growth equation as no single player possesses all the necessary resources for development. However, for this to materialize, Mahit said that there must first be a policy environment that is conducive for investments and innovations to thrive, which can create a more competitive digital ecosystem.

“The new administration should adopt a more investment-driven strategy for long-term growth and development. It needs to recognize that no single player possesses all the necessary resources for national development. The private sector has consistently demonstrated its capacity as a prime mover not only in innovation and the delivery of goods and services, but also in creating value in the lives of its stakeholders in the form of job creation, alleviation of poverty and promotion of sustainability,” he said.

“For digitalization to succeed, the critical factor is the participation of and collaboration with the private sector and civil society. In this manner, the challenges borne by the digitalization thrust could be converted into inclusive development opportunities as the Philippines endeavors to become a new power player in the global digital economy,” Manhit concluded.