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APEC 2015: Robust Internet needed to link MSMEs to global supply chain

MANILA, Philippines — Local micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) need one thing before securing links to the global supply chain: Robust Internet connection.

This is the call of Magsaysay Group of Companies CEO Doris Magsaysay-Ho, GoNegosyo Founding Trustee Joey Concepcion, and Senator Paolo Benigno "Bam" Aquino IV, as the country welcomes leaders from the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) economies in Manila for the second time after 19 years.

"Internet connection is the bedrock of entrepreneurs," Aquino said at the APEC 2015 SME Summit press conference in Makati City on Thursday, November 12.

The senator said to be able to spread prosperity to microentrepreneurs and link them to the global supply chain, they should first have access to a reliable Internet connection.

"If we want to grow our economy and empower MSMEs, robust Internet connection is needed. With better Internet, we can make the lives of our micro, small, and medium entrepreneurs easier….The facets of the Internet go beyond just communications," Aquino added.

Highlighting the role of MSMEs for inclusive growth is one of the pillars of this year's APEC, which is themed, Building Inclusive Economies, Building a Better World.

Accounting for over 99% of businesses in the Philippines, Concepcion highlighted the need to address concerns of MSMEs such as securing a stable Internet connection.

"We have to develop a new breed of entrepreneurs adept with new technology. But for that to happen, they should have fast Internet connection," the GoNegosyo official said.

Once microentrepreneurs have access to reliable connection, they can make the most of new technology, like cloud and Internet of Things, and then secure links to the supply chain, according to Concepcion.

Could put breaks

Magsaysay-Ho, who chairs APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) 2015, echoed Aquino’s and Concepcion’s remarks that the Philippines "really needs to have a robust broadband capacity."

"Because if we don’t have that, we can't really accummulate big data and compete," the shipping magnate said.

In terms of Internet speed, the Philippines is way behind its neighbors in Asia, where some of the fastest Internet speed in the world are found. Singapore, for example, has an average Internet download speed of 133.1 mbps compared to the Philippines' miserable 3.7 mbps, according to www.netindex.com.

The Philippines' slow Internet bandwidth could be putting the brakes on the country's economic growth. But Aquino said attempts are being made to improve the situation.

The government has proposed to increase the budget for information and communications technology to P4.37 billion ($202.40 million) in 2016 from P1.76 billion ($81.42 million) in 2014.

Aquino added that the recently signed Philippine Competition Act will "hopefully help in the entry of new players, and will then help us in having more choices, higher quality and cheaper Internet connection." – Rappler.com

$1=P47.03