DTI wants to position Philippines as AI powerhouse

Louella Desiderio - The Philippine Star
DTI wants to position Philippines as AI powerhouse
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is set to launch a roadmap next month which aims to position the Philippines as an artificial intelligence (AI) powerhouse.

“With respect to AI, we are going to launch the Philippine AI road map next month, the goal of which is to make the Philippines an AI center for excellence,” Trade Undersecretary Rafaelita Aldaba said during the Second Philippines-Singapore Business and Investment Summit on Friday.

She said the country is targeting to build a national data center and a national center for AI research that would serve as a hub for scientists and conduct research and development (R&D) for both industries and the government and provide solutions to problems using AI.

As the country embarks on its AI journey, Aldaba said the agency intends to collaborate with the Agency for Science, Technology and Research of Singapore given its strength in AI.

Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said in the same event the DTI considers AI as a critical technology that would aid in maintaining and enhancing the regional and global competitiveness of local industries.

Apart from the AI roadmap, he said the DTI is also preparing to update existing industry roadmaps to push the use of Industry 4.0 technologies and to build an Industry 4.0 Pilot Factory.

“We are also formulating skills frameworks for various industries, similar to how Singapore developed its own skills frameworks. Among the industries we are prioritizing are manufacturing, logistics, construction, IT-BPM (information technology – business process management) and agri-business,” he said.

As part of efforts to rebuild from the impact of the pandemic, he said the agency would want to encourage Singaporean tech companies to consider business opportunities in the country.

In particular, he said there are opportunities in high-tech or smart manufacturing given the country’s young and skilled labor pool.

He said there are likewise emerging opportunities in services, particularly for data infrastructure centers for cloud services for hyperscalers like Amazon and Google, with Singapore and other advanced nations reaching full capacity.

“Singapore may also take a look at the creatives and animation sectors, including MRO (maintenance repair and overhaul) services, where the Philippines has excellent track records as well,” he said.

Alternatively, he said the Philippines could serve as an R&D center and/or a product design hub of Singaporean companies as they expand their operations.

Another sector offering opportunities for Singaporean companies is infrastructure as the government is implementing projects under the flagship Build, Build, Build program.

There are also opportunities in the telecommunications infrastructure.

“To address the limited digital infrastructure and growing demand for high speed and high-quality internet connectivity, the Philippine government is encouraging investments in this area,” Lopez said.

Last year, Singapore ranked as the country’s fourth biggest source of investments, with approved pledges amounting to P9.99 billion.

Compared to 2019 when Singapore ranked first, Lopez said investment pledges from Singapore declined last year amid global uncertainties.

“But we are confident that with strategic partnerships and with the shared objective to recover from the effects of the pandemic, we can overturn this decline,” he said.


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