Cebu a leading ICT center of excellence ? PGMA
RP BPO industry now a global powerhouse
By Rachelle M. Nessia
Cebu City (3 February) -- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has lauded Cebu City for being one of the leading information communications technology (ICT) centers of excellence in the country.
The President, in her speech today at the Qualfone Quality Contact Services at the Sky Rise Building in Asiatown IT Park, this city, glowingly extolled Cebu City's feats being a strong key player in the Cyber Corridor Project especially since the city continues to top the Global Services survey on the "Top 50 Emerging Global Outsourcing Destinations."
"This is mainly due to Cebu City's scale and quality of workforce, modern infrastructure, business catalyst, risk profile cost and quality of life," said the President, adding that investors are attracted to the high quality of graduates from the nine universities and 50 colleges here.
Pres. Arroyo stopped by here today as part of her Super Regions Tour of which Cebu is an integral part of Cyber Corridor encompassing 10 urban areas now being promoted as new destinations for ICT namely: Metro Laguna, Metro Cavite, Iloilo, Davao, Bacolod, Metro Pampanga, Metro Bulacan, Cagayan de Oro, Central Bulacan, Lipa, Manila and Cebu.
Cebu and Manila are the two original ICT centers of Excellence.
There are more than 70 outsourcing and off-shoring companies operating in Cebu City, 44 of which are thriving inside Asiatown IT Park, the 23-hectare property considered the crowning glory of Cebu's ICT infrastructure.
The park was formerly Lahug Airport transformed into the flagship project of CPVDC as the first IT Park accredited by the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) in the Visayas and Mindanao as a viable hub for IT locators here.
Cebu City's ICT industry is employing 20,000 individuals of which 13,500 are directly employed by the IT and IT-enabled firms and BPOs operating inside the IT Park, along with a 5,000-strong workforce for said firms' varied IT support services ranging from conventional voice/call center service to "high end" IT services such as software product development and engineering used by multinational IT enabled companies worldwide.
Cebu Educational Development Foundation IT President Bonifacio Belen, in his briefing prior to the President's speech, said that in 2001, there were only 850 software developers in Cebu and in 2009 it grew to 7,500 or more than 100% growth in employment per year.
On the other hand, the IT-enabled services sector started out with only 7,000 mostly data encoders in 2001 and now there are an estimated 25,000 of them or 36% employment growth annually here, said Belen.
The global IT industry has taken note of the phenomenal IT growth in Cebu that in 2008 and 2009, the Global Services-Tholons study ranked Cebu City as number one among the top 50 emerging global outsourcing cities in the world, ahead of Poland, Shanghai, Egypt among others.
Emboldended by this success, Belen said they have started to brand Cebu as an innovation island, emulating the Silicon Valley model contributing to the country's economic growth through technology entrepreneurship.
The Arroyo administration has invested in or promoted the necessary infrastructure support to nurture a better business environment for Cebu, providing Class A facilities to accommodate BPO-IT locators here.
"There is also now a ¾ completed 200-megawatt power plant expected to be finished next year," the President added.
She noted that the country has come a long way since January 2001 when the nation then was on the brink of what she described as "political chaos and financial bankruptcy" as the national debt of the government and its corporations of P3.6 trillion was bigger than its gross domestic product of P3.3 trillion.
When Arroyo stepped in as President in 2001, she focused on delivering real results to better the lives of ordinary Filipino and being an economist, she instilled fiscal discipline and invested in human and physical infrastructure like roads and bridges and the Roll On Roll Off nautical highway system.
This move brought about an unprecedented 36 quarters of uninterrupted grown, create nine million new jobs, add 53 million people to healthcare with government coffers, helping the country withstand the global economic crisis.
The President described the country's BPO industry today as a global powerhouse which started from scratch with only 2,000 workers.
This, according to Arroyo, was achieved by boosting the digital infrastructure and encouraging more broadband services in cities and identified growth areas, reducing the cost of international calls down from 40 cents to 20 cents a minute through VOiP.
The government also encouraged PLDT and Globe to invest billions in setting up more than one international telecommunications gateway "so that no Taiwan tremor or tsunami can cut off our cyber services from their global clients."
The President in her speech declared that the Philippines with a 90-million population has now challenged India's one billion population for BPO supremacy. (PIA/rmn) [top]