Information has always played a vital role in our history. Over the ages, people have used it to gain a more accurate picture of their current situation, make better decisions for the future, and improve the quality of their lives. But never has information been more accessible and more widespread than it is today.

The recent developments in Information and Communications Technology (ICT) have been phenomenal. Computers are progressively becoming smaller, more affordable, and more powerful. They are capable of storing an almost limitless amount of data and information. And they are linked together through telephone lines, satellites, and fiber-optic cables that span across the world, allowing the ability to communicate and share information with one another across borders.

With this rapid advance of technology, ICT has been revolutionizing the way we live our lives by tearing down borders and making them non-existent. Markets, which were once unreachable because of distance and costs, are now open through cyberspace and e-commerce. Learning, likewise, has extended beyond the four walls of the classroom and now takes place at home, in internet cafes, and in the unlikeliest of places. Governments can now provide better, more efficient, and more transparent service to their citizens by integrating multi-agency processes through the use of ICT.

The projections for e-commerce have been staggering. Global e-commerce is expected to generate around $7 trillion in 2004. The Asia-Pacific region is expected to contribute almost a fourth of this. But this is just the beginning. We have yet to exhaust all the possibilities of ICT. This is merely a glimpse of what is yet to come, of what we can still achieve, and of all the greater possibilities. Everyday, the brightest minds all over the world are finding ways to make things smaller, faster, cheaper, and better. This is the promise of ICT.

The Philippines recognizes the high-growth potential of ICT and e-commerce. In the year 2000, the country passed the E-Commerce Act. This landmark piece of legislation, based on the UNCITRAL Model Law, not only provides the appropriate environment to encourage the growth of e-commerce in the country but it also contains the special provision mandating all government agencies to make their services available online.

The Filipino people also provide the Philippines the comparative advantage needed to compete and thrive in the global New Economy. The Philippines has a 94% literacy rate. 72% of the population is fluent in English, the language of the Internet, making the Philippines the third-largest English speaking nation in the world. This plus other immeasurable qualities like the Filipino's inherent creativity and ability to interpret different cultural nuances make the Philippines among the world leaders in terms of knowledge workers.

With all this potential waiting to be unleashed, the Information Technology and E-Commerce Council (ITECC) has come up with the vision of an ePhilippines - an electronically enabled society where the citizens live in an environment that will promote access to technologies providing quality education, efficient government service, greater sources of livelihood, and, ultimately, a better way of life.

The ePhilippines vision is anchored on five equally important strategies. These are to develop the country as a world-class ICT services provider, provide government services to stakeholders online, provide affordable Internet access to all segments of the population, develop an ICT enabled workforce, and create an enabling legal and regulatory environment.

This is what ITECC is all about. It is a testament to the present administration's firm commitment to the growth and development of ICT in the country.

ICT has already allowed us to achieve so many things we once thought were impossible. But we are still at the beginning of this exciting and most fascinating journey. Our best days still lie ahead.

Welcome to ePhilippines!





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