Bohol takes first step into ICT world

This week’s holding of the 1st Bohol Internet and Net Security conference marked the island-province�s move to take part in the information and communications technology (ICT) world. The initiative is led by the private sector — with some support from the government sector.

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) appears to be the initiative’s biggest supporter with both the outgoing and incoming directors present during the conference. The governor and the mayor weren’t there (both were on official trips) and the representatives they sent only went there during the first day.

It’s unfair to compare the event with those staged in other bigger cities with more active supporters among government officials. The attendance was sparse and below what the organizers expected. Their press release said they expected 2,000 attendees, I saw only less than a tenth of that figure.

Still, the event is an important first step and one that should be sustained. Bohol is an attractive investment destination, outgoing DTI provincial director Nimfa Vertucia said to me during Friday’s lunch. Vertucia said that in the short-term, the province can help neighboring Cebu by providing it with qualified ICT workers.

Incoming DTI Bohol Director Maria Elena Arbon said that for the province to become an ICT investment destination, it must improve its communications infrastructure and the quality of its ICT manpower pool. The province’s communications infrastructure got a needed boost this week with the signing of the contract between PLDT and RAYnetworks, Inc. Under the contract, RAYnetworks will be extending communications services in areas not covered by the phone giant.

Arbon also sees no need for the province to organize something similar to the Cebu Educational Development Foundation for Information Technology or CedfIT. She said the province’s schools should just affiliate with CedfIT. Arbon, however, said there should be a meeting among Bohol’s schools to take up the need to improve the curriculum and match it with what industries, particularly the ICT sector, need.

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