PHILIPPINES – For six years now, the Philippines has topped global rankings for both social media and internet usage. According to wearesocial, there were 89 million social media users in the Philippines in January 2021. This is equivalent to 80.7 percent of the total country’s population in January 2021.
Despite being called the social media capital of the world, multiple reports and studies indicate that the Philippines still lags behind its Asia-Pacific neighbors and the rest of the world in terms of digital transformation:
- The Philippines ranked 59th out of 79 countries in the 2020 Global Connectivity Index (GCI) report by Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd. The ranking suggests the country remains a “starter” when it comes to digital transformation.
- At 16.76 Mbps, the country’s mobile broadband speed is much lower than the global average of 32.01 Mbps. These are according to monthly comparisons of internet speeds from around the world by Ookla in its Speedtest Global Index.
- The Pew Research Center revealed that the Philippines has the 4th highest differential at 58, when it comes to internet use by age: 94 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds use the internet, at least occasionally, or own a smartphone, while 36 percent of the 50-plus crowd uses the internet.
Last year, the Philippines had one of the strictest and longest lockdowns in the world, impacting many businesses and accelerating digitalization. The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic magnified the significance of the digital economy in supporting economic competitiveness and resilience. Across the Asia-Pacific region, there has been increased movement towards digitalization and ecommerce, including the Philippines. Despite this, however, the prospects of pursuing digitalization have been coupled with constraints including access to affordable technologies, poor access to quality internet, and long-held traditional operation models.
Given those gaps, public affairs and strategy firm W&R and the National University of Singapore-Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, one of the top public policy schools in the world, is organizing a discussion forum and white paper launch entitled: “Digitalizing the Philippines: A White Paper Launch and Discussion Forum” on September 29 at 10:00 AM local time.
The forum seeks to facilitate discussion on the policy reforms and industry efforts needed to promote digitalization in the Philippines. Other partners of the forum include Embiggen Consulting, University of Asia and Pacific School of Law and Governance, FEU Tech Innovation Center, Philippine Strategic Forum, and Benilde School of Diplomacy and Governance.
Speakers include policy makers, business leaders, and academics—Sen. Grace Poe, TG Limcaoco, Andrew Williamson, Ricky Banaag, Atty. Allan Gepty, Atty. Randy Echaus, Dr. Bernardo Villegas, Dr. Ed Araral, Dr. Francesco Mancini, and Dr. Robin Michael Garcia—as they seek to answer questions about the value and benefits of the Philippines’ digitalization.
Interested participants may register for the forum at https://www.wradvisory.co/event-registration.