Philippines written on a wooden sign

Philippines places 54th in UNCTAD ranking for innovative tech adoption

The Philippines ranked 54th out of 166 countries listed based on their utilization of frontier technologies in the last 12 months, garnering a score of 0.62, up from 0.60 in the previous index.

The Frontier Technology Index was compiled by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), placing the Southeast Asian nation in the upper middle range of the list. Despite the respectable ranking, the Philippines dropped 10 places from its previous ranking of 44 in the 2021 report.

The UNCTAD considered several factors before publishing the list, particularly looking at the receptiveness of the local population to frontier technologies. Frontier technology includes blockchain technology, the Internet of Things (IoT), 3D printing, nanotechnology, and artificial intelligence (AI), among others.

Compared to other Southeast Asian nations, the Philippines performed significantly better than the rest of the pack, only falling behind the trio of Singapore (3rd), Thailand (49th), and Malaysia (32nd). Indonesia, Cambodia, and Myanmar ranked 85th, 112th, and 133rd places, respectively.

“Although developing countries are the least prepared to use frontier technologies, several economies in Asia have made important policy changes that have enabled them to perform better than expected according to their gross domestic product (GDP) per capita,” said the UNCTAD.

Going further, the UNCTAD urged developing countries to seize the rare opportunity provided by frontier technologies to climb up the developmental ladder. Rebeca Grynspan, Secretary General of the UNCTAD, reiterated that policymakers should divert significant attention toward frontier technologies to encourage local innovation.

“Developing countries must capture more of the value being created in this technological revolution to grow their economies,” said Grynspan. “Missing this technological wave because of insufficient policy attention or lack of targeted investment in building capacities would have long-lasting negative implications.”

The Philippines’ decline extended toward its ICT, research and development, and finance industries, with only its skill indicator climbing upward.

Digital investment on the rise

A January report from the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) noted an increase in foreign investments in the zone. PEZA’s Officer-in-Charge Tereso Panga said the figure was an 83.69% increase from January 2022, with a significant chunk of the investments going into the IT sector.

PEZA stated that it is targeting a 10% investment growth, given the figures recorded early in the year, as the nation looks to bolster its digital economy. Experts have noted an absence of regulatory high-handedness in the sector, which may trigger innovation in Web3 and digital currencies for the country.

Meanwhile, the province of Bataan is looking at blockchain solutions for the many government services it provides its residence. It recently signed a memorandum of understanding with global tech company nChain, which will develop solutions for state services, products and processes. nChain is launching Block Dojo Philippines, a startup blockchain incubator that will provide training, education, upskilling, and cross-skilling to local talents; and has also signed an MoU with Ateneo de Manila University to promote and foster blockchain education.

Watch: Preparing the Philippines for blockchain revolution

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