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Business

Bridging the divide in a digital world

SHAREPHIL INVESTORS VIEWPOINT - Ma. Aurora Geotina-Garcia - The Philippine Star

Disparity, inequality, imbalance, differences – these are words that have been used to describe the wide gap or the “digital divide” between those who have easy access and those who do not have access to information and communications technology (ICT) and the internet. As our lives, our communities, and our businesses have become more reliant on ICT, the importance of digitalization for everyone, and not only for some, has been magnified by the pandemic.

 The concept of digital inclusion 

According to the National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA) in the United States, a community of digital inclusion practitioners and advocates, “Digital inclusion refers to the activities necessary to ensure that all individuals and communities, including the most disadvantaged, have access to and use of information and communication technologies (ICTs).”  This includes five elements: 1) Affordable, robust broadband internet service. 2) Internet-enabled devices that meet the needs of the user. 3) Access to digital literacy training. 4) Quality technical support. And, 5) Applications and online content designed to enable and encourage self-sufficiency, participation, and collaboration. Digital inclusion must evolve as technology advances. Digital inclusion requires intentional strategies and investments to reduce and eliminate historical, institutional, and structural barriers to access and use technology.” 

Furthermore, “Digital inclusion is meant to be a practical, policy-driven approach that addresses the needs of individuals and communities as a whole. It encompasses not only access to the internet, but also the availability of hardware, software, digital content and services, and  most importantly, training for  digital literacy skills required for effective use of information and communication technologies.” 

 Bridging the digital divide

As the digital revolution intensifies and grows, governments, non-profits, and businesses will have to extend access to ICT very broadly. It is the only way to move forward and create a more enabling and competitive global society. In fact, the United Nations has identified the internet as a “basic human right that should be extended to all citizens of the world.”  Moreover, the UN has adopted “online freedom” as a basic right that must be nurtured by all nation states through a resolution of the UN  Human Rights Council  for the “promotion, protection, and enjoyment of human rights on the internet” and “condemns any country that intentionally disrupts the internet access of its citizens.” 

The longer the digital divide persists, the greater the cost for society. Without access, full participation by citizens in nearly every aspect of society – from economic success and educational achievement, to positive health outcomes and civic engagement – is compromised. The “haves” will have more and the “have-nots” will have less.

To thrive in this digital world, individuals, communities, and businesses must be ready to embrace digital transformation and new platforms. Leaving no one behind, everyone must learn, adapt, and become a full participant of these new technologies.

‘From Bricks to Clicks: Thriving in the Digital World’ 

As the Philippines continues to navigate the pandemic, we have seen how telco networks have worked hard to ensure that they keep up with bandwidth and uptime requirements posed by enterprises whose workforce transitioned to work-from-home arrangements due to quarantine restrictions, and consumers who shifted to online banking and shopping. E-wallets and digital banking have provided consumers with frictionless transactions and further increased the adoption of e-commerce platforms that served as a lifeline for small businesses and service providers.

 Recognizing the significant role of digitalization in the recovery and sustainability of the economy SharePHIL will hold the first leg of its annual summit on April 28, Wednesday at 2 p.m., with the theme “Reshaping the economy through inclusive business.” 

Entitled “From Bricks to Clicks: Thriving in the Digital World,” the SharePHIL Summit will discuss connectivity, access, and inclusion as channels for economic recovery, and how digitalization and the shift from in-person to online transactions can foster inclusive and sustainable growth.

Featuring keynote speakers: Ernest Cu, president and CEO of Globe Telecom; Al Panlilio, president and  CEO of Smart and CRO of the PLDT Group; and Hans Sicat, country head of ING Philippines. A panel discussion will follow, where they will be joined by Paolo Azzola, COO of PayMaya; Ray Alimurung, CEO of Lazada Philippines; Martha Sazon, president and CEO of GCash; and Grace Vera Cruz, managing director of Grab Philippines; moderated by SharePHIL trustee and treasurer Marivic Españo, chairperson and CEO of P&A Grant Thornton.

The author, Ma.  Aurora “Boots” D. Geotina-Garcia, is vice president of the Shareholders’ Association of the Philippines (SharePHIL) and trustee of the Institute of the Corporate Directors (ICD). She is president of Mageo Consulting, which provides corporate finance advisory and consulting services. 

The 2021 SharePHIL 2021 Summit series is made possible by Ayala Land, Robinsons Land, and SM Investments, in cooperation with BDO Unibank, GCash, P&A Grant Thornton, BD&P Law Offices, PLDT Home, and Smart Communications.

 

 

From Bricks to Clicks: Thriving in the Digital World on April 28 is now open for registration. Sign up for free at: http://sharephil.org/events or scan the QR code below.

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