After appointing a new chair for the CICT (Commission on Information and Communications Technology), the country's new president, Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III, appears ready to pump new life to the local economy, particularly the IT and BPO sector.
The selection of technology lawyer Ivan Uy as the new CICT chief has been warmly received by the ICT community--an indication that the government and private sector can work in unison over the next few years. The appointment of the new CICT head is also a sign that Aquino is not hostile to the agency, as initially feared.
Overall, Aquino's election as president has been a good development for the country. His strong statement during his inauguration against the use of car sirens and blinkers--a despised symbol of arrogance and unrestrained power--has cast a favorable impression on foreign investors and the expat community.
This anti-siren policy, they say, not only puts order in the streets but also sends out the message that abuse of authority and corruption will no longer overlooked.
Recently, I conducted an early morning interview with two foreign executives--an Englishman and a Dutch--regarding the opening of their local office here a few days ago.
Their company, a mobile applications developer called JMango, chose Manila as their main hub for research and development. Their other locations are in Australia and the Netherlands.
JMango CEO Ilan Oosting is a tall hyperactive Dutch guy whose enthusiasm was really contagious. Neil Matheson, the British guy in charge of the local operations, was more subdued but his appreciation of the IT prowess of the Philippines was no less passionate.
The executives said their company picked the Philippines as its R&D headquarters for two reasons: the wide IT manpower pool and the robust mobile market.
The company is also set to expand its current headcount of 15 to 50 by year-end, after it clinched deals with local operator Globe Telecom and Philippine Savings Bank (PSBank) in which the two firms have agreed to use JMango's mobile app platform.
But the company's main target are bigger markets such as the U.S. and Europe. To achieve that goal, it is tapping the expertise of Filipino IT professionals.
It's strange, but it's sometimes necessary to see our own strengths from the eyes of foreigners. I just hope that Aquino--despite the initial negative perception on his ICT policies--would continue to prove that ICT is an important part of his agenda.