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The Philippines Capitalising on Digital Opportunities

According to a global study, the Philippines is ranked 48th out of 110 countries based on a set of five fundamental digital wellbeing pillars. The rankings are based on the third annual edition of the Digital Quality of Life Index (DQL), which included data from 90% of the world’s population. It was carried out by a cybersecurity firm. The Philippines performed well in terms of Internet quality (20th) and e-security (30th), however fell short in terms of Internet affordability (72nd), e-infrastructure (63rd), and e-government (67th).

Despite falling one notch from last year’s ranking in the Global Innovation Index (GII) report, officials from the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) said that this is still an accomplishment. Although the Philippines’ GII ranking of 51st out of 132 countries is a step back from its upward trajectory since 2014, the country believes it is still an innovator.

The study says the country’s Internet quality is among the best in the world – the Philippines ranked 20th and has the fastest year-on-year growth in mobile and broadband speed. E-security in the Philippines is also about 20% higher than the global average. The country is ranked 30th in the world, surpassing New Zealand, Australia, and South Korea, one of the DQL leaders.

Overall, the Philippines improved significantly compared to the DQL 2020, rising from 66th to 48th and surpassing Indonesia. In addition, the country’s Internet affordability increased by 156%. The study also revealed that the Philippines has room for improvement in terms of e-infrastructure, with the country ranking 64th and being surpassed by neighbouring Thailand and Malaysia.

“Digital opportunities have proved to be more important than ever during the Covid-19 crisis, stressing the importance for every country to ensure fully remote operational capacities for their economies,” explained the CEO of the cybersecurity company. “That is why, for the third year in a row, we continue the Digital Quality of Life research, which provides a robust global outlook into how countries excel digitally. The index sets the basis for meaningful discussions about how digital advancement impacts a country’s prosperity and where improvements can be made.”

Although the Philippines GII ranking of number 51 among 132 countries is a step backwards from the upward trajectory since 2014, we believe we are still an innovation achiever.

– DOST Undersecretary

Meanwhile, DOST Secretary said that the government’s support for micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs), as well as private firms, is one of the reasons why the Philippines has a strong innovation capability. He believes that innovation plays a critical role in the country, particularly during the pandemic. Most businesses and communities require innovation to maintain access to high-quality goods and services while also ensuring the safety of their employees and customers.

The DOST Secretary said despite the lower ranking compared to last year, the Philippines still performed well as it ranked 100th in 2014. “The DOST continues to support the MSMEs through the agency’s technology upgrading programme. The DOST has also focused on supporting projects that cater to the needs during the pandemic. Among these include the locally developed test kits, biomedical devices, and other applications. “Now that we know which sector, we are most needed, this will serve as a guide in funding allocation.” He added.

All whilst, the DOST Undersecretary asserted that the DOST has been assisting businesses through the Business Innovation Through Science and Technology programme. Furthermore, the DOST has been promoting university-business collaborations through its CRADLE (Collaborative Research and Development to Leverage the Philippine Economy) programme.

It is stated that the DOST is hoping for the passage of the Science for Change (S4CP) Bill, which seeks to address the disparity in research and development (R&D) funding in the regions, as well as the lack of R&D in the private sector, as an initiative to sustain innovation efforts. The Undersecretary then mentioned that the approval of the S4CP Bill would also mean equitable and sustained efforts for innovation, emphasising the importance of innovation to national resiliency.

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