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Monday, December 4, 2023

Cisco reinforces commitment to bolster digital inclusion for Filipinos thru UGNAYAN 2030

Based on its purpose to power an inclusive future for all, worldwide technology leader that powers the internet, Cisco, reinforces its continued commitment to promoting inclusive and sustainable digitization in the Philippines through its Country Digital Acceleration (CDA) program, UGNAYAN 2030.

Cisco Senior Vice President & Global Innovation Officer Guy Diedrich, on his first visit to the Philippines, joined the local team headed by Cisco Philippines Managing Director Zaza Nicart on a series of local engagements with business leaders, customers and government officials to reaffirm the company’s mission of steering the Philippines’ journey towards fostering digital inclusion and transformation through UGNAYAN 2030.

Cisco Senior Vice President & Global Innovation Officer Guy Diedrich and Cisco Philippines Managing Director Zaza Nicart

According to Diedrich, “Our CDA program uniquely positions Cisco and our partners to be the bridge between a country’s digital ambitions and the benefits of a digital future. The model is based on high degrees of trust and deep engagement across ecosystem partners in the public and private sectors. Through CDA, we can support our community leaders in addressing key societal challenges by harnessing strategic co-investment and relentless co-innovation.”

Cisco’s global CDA program continues to grow – currently in 44 countries, with over 1,200 completed and active projects worldwide. The CDA model leverages strong collaboration with industry partners, academia, and government leadership to foster sustainable communities and resilient economies through innovation and digital solutions.

In the Philippines, UGNAYAN 2030 is addressing gaps in uneven access to ICT resources, weak cross-organizational structure and adoption, and limited expertise and manpower in the field of technology.

“We launched UGNAYAN 2030, our local CDA program, two years ago with the idea to build not just a campaign, but an open platform wherein existing, ongoing, and upcoming ICT-related plans can be enacted on — whether it be through access to Cisco technology, knowledge-sharing, or stakeholder engagement, regardless of sector or industry,” Nicart underscored.

With this, it is hoped that the CDA program will play a key role in two critical challenges faced worldwide: resolving the skills shortage and bridging the digital divide.

Resolving the Skills Shortage

The World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs 2020 Report forecasts that digitization will displace roughly 85 million jobs in the next few years and will generate around 97 million new digital jobs. Hence, most of CDA’s global projects are driven to address the skills gap in the technology industry.

“Governments around the world are grappling with the fundamental challenge of preparing for the workforce of the future, and the fact remains that we have millions of unfilled jobs in cybersecurity, networking, and IT. While technology has been the answer to solving many real-world challenges, if we don’t have the people to staff, serve, and protect our infrastructure, we can only go so far,” Diedrich highlighted.

Locally, the situation on skills shortage is no different. Cisco Philippines gathered insights from experts across various sectors in the country and found that regardless of industry, there is a pressing need to train and reskill the workforce for country digitization to reach its optimum level.

“We’re focusing our efforts on Cisco’s core competencies: Connectivity, Collaboration, and Cybersecurity. These pillars form the essential foundation for the Philippines to embark on its digital journey, and we have a great opportunity to make these efforts more accessible if we can equip more Filipinos with the right skills set to manage and sustain the country’s digitalization efforts and reap the benefits of a digital future,” Nicart expressed.

Bridging the Digital Divide

Inequality in access to the internet and ICT infrastructure continues to be a glaring issue not just in the Philippines, but all over the world. In fact, according to the United Nations’ Digital Economy Report 2021, the digital divide is quite significant between urban and rural areas, as well as men and women.

Diedrich noted that, “Nearly half of the world remains unconnected today; The inability to connect those roughly 3.4 billion people over the next 10 years risks the effects of the digital divide becoming permanent and unrecoverable. It is incumbent upon us as business leaders and innovators to do our part, but we can’t do it alone. In order to truly move the needle, we need to work together united under our shared purpose of powering inclusive and sustainable communities.”

According to Cisco, to bridge the digital divide for good, a holistic approach is necessary. This approach involves meeting basic needs in the form of internet accessibility, improving the quality of education and healthcare outcomes through modernized collaboration and connectivity platforms, fostering innovation and creating a thriving business environment by effectively implementing hybrid work strategies, and modernizing and securing a country’s critical infrastructure.

“Powering an inclusive future for all is not just a call to action. It’s recognizing that it’s going to take all of us. If we approach this as individuals or lone companies, we won’t get very far. But if we can come together as a community – Cisco, governments, our customers, our partners, our stakeholders, and other like-minded organizations – we will be able to create a digitally inclusive Philippines and power an inclusive future for all,” Nicart concluded.

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