Monday, December 15, 2008

Legazpi City Holds 2nd Albay ICT Conference

LEGASPI CITY – To maximize and fast track the province of Albay’s potential and growth in Information and Communications Technology, the 2nd Albay ICT Conference was held last December 10, 2008 at the Casablanca Hotel, Legazpi City. It was jointly organized by Albay Information and Communications Technology Association (AICTA) and Department of Trade and Industry in close coordination with the City Government of Legazpi and Embarcadero.

Representatives from the province’s different schools and universities, support institutions like the NGOs and telecommunications companies, Business Process Outsourcing (BPO)/ICT-related companies, and focal persons from the national and local government agencies took part in the said event.

Commission on Information and Communications Technology (CICT) Commissioner, Monchito Ibrahim, were among the resource speakers of the conference. Executive director of the Contact Center Association of the Philippines (CCAP), Mr. Jojo Uligan, and research director for Business Process Association of the Philippines (BPAP), Ms. Gillian Virata, also graced the event. Mr. Uligan gave a talk regarding the state of the Philippine call center industry in the midst of global financial crisis while Ms. Virata discussed about the potential of the next wave cities as business locations for the BPO sub-sector.

Next wave cities are the cities outside Metro Manila that has been identified to best support the development of the BPO industry. The CICT, the BPAP and the DTI have developed a scorecard to rate potential next-wave cities in the country.

Though Legazpi city was not able to make it to the list of newly selected next-wave cities, Ms. Gillian Virata still regard Legazpi as having great capability in attracting and hosting BPO companies. Legazpi city Mayor Noel Rosal backed this up as he discussed about what the city has to offer in terms of being the next wave city for ICT development. He highlighted the ICT potentials of the city especially with the development of Embarcadero de Legazpi. The Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) declaration of Embarcadero as an IT Park Ecozone has put Legazpi City to the IT Map of the Philippines.

Mayor Rosal pointed out the key factors and steps that must be strongly implemented in order to strengthen Legazpi city’s economic performance and competitiveness in the BPO sector. These factors include; strengthening tourism as major component in attracting investors, reengineering the local infrastructure for global standards, capitalizing manpower development at the grassroots level, emphasizing a distinct brand of quality service, sustaining a strong governance model and collaboration between the public and private sector and upholding a constant development and improvement outlook.

Rounding up the conference’s morning activities were the open forum and the induction of Legazpi city ICT Council officers by CICT Commissioner, Monchito Ibrahim.

The event’s afternoon activities include the presentations from the region’s two major telecommunications provider followed by Embarcadero de Legazpi’s showcase of its offerings to investors and locators. The integral part of Embarcadero is its IT Park which is the new IT hub in the Bicol region. It is envisioned to attract locators in the ICT-enabled services like web development and design, content development, online marketing and many other computer-based support services.

AICTA President, Ms. Rosemarie Q. Rey also presented the issues and concerns of the local ICT stakeholders. She challenged the participants including fellow stakeholders and players to strengthen their efforts in making Legazpi city rank higher in the list of next wave cities. Ms. Rey is also the president and CEO of SLTCFI, an institution that has laid a stake in the IT-BPO industry of Legazpi City. It ties up with foreign-based firms to provide outsourced services for various ICT related business processes.

Representatives from Content Online Services Inc. (COSI) and M3 Medical Management Services Inc., which were among the first wave of ICT locators in Albay also gave their testimonials regarding their experiences operating in the province, including challenges, opportunities, and development plans.

One of the highlights of the conference was the workshop wherein the participants were divided into four groups to discuss and present the issues and concerns that need to be addressed in order for Legazpi city to be included in the top ten next wave cities. Participants were also toured around Embarcadero as the final part of the event. Embarcadero is considered to be the first world-class destination lifestyle, entertainment and information technology center in a waterfront development in the country.

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