Key players in Information and Communications Technology (ICT) are promoting this city as the most competitive Mindanao city when it comes to hosting outsourcing business. Such was underscored at the Convergence 2009 ICT Roadshow held at Pryce Plaza Hotel on Nov. 12 and 13 with participation from industry leaders and ICT students.

Elpidio M. Paras, chairman of the Cagayan de Oro ICT Business Council, said in his presentation that Northern Mindanao had the highest growth per capita in the country based on official data from the National Statistical Coordination Board. He added that skilled ICT workers’ availability in the region, especially in this city, is high.

“We, therefore, have more room for ICT locators. We also have various potential sites, the Phividec [Philippine Veterans Investment Development Corp.], the new Lim Ket Kai Gateway Tower and the SM City-CdO IT Building, among others.”

Davao City has so far been the top choice for business outsourcing among Mindanao cities, hosting at least half a dozen multinational call center firms each with over 200-seat capacity. In comparison, only Synnex-Concentrix Corp. has been operating at that size here.

In an earlier interview, Teodoro D. Buenavista, Jr., regional director of the National Telecommunications Commission, said with increasing space for business outsourcing, Internet connection in Northern Mindanao has surged in recent years. As of mid-2008, there were 26,816 Internet connections in the region, he said, more than six times the number of connections in 2006.
Aside from growing familiarity with Internet technology, the city’s low power cost is one of the advantages for ICT companies to locate here, Mr. Paras said. Cagayan de Oro has the one-megawatt photovoltaic plant in the city’s Indahag district, and the Steag power plant in Phividec, which provides around 200 megawatts of power to the island’s power grid.

The city is also near hydro-power sources such as First Bukidnon Electric Cooperative’s Fibeco IV and the state-run Maria Cristina power plants.

“We have adequate uninterrupted power supplied by sustainable sources,” he said. “There are almost no unannounced power outages in this city,” he claimed noting, however, that Cagayan de Oro only ranked 8th in the latest list of next wave cities for ICT investments.

“They are counting our housing refugees from nearby conflict areas as negative,” Mr. Paras said. In August last year, the city played host to refugees from areas in Lanao del Norte affected by raids of rogue Moro rebels after the Supreme Court rejected the proposed Memorandum of Agreement in Ancestral Domain, a key component of the southern peace process.

“Cagayan de Oro is also proud to have Concentrix as the first foreign call center locator in Mindanao. We also have our first university-based call center in Capitol University. Utility rates here are lower by at least 30% compared with Manila’s rates, management costs are also low, and salaries are low- to mid-level. Cagayan de Oro is also typhoon-free,” Mr. Paras noted.
Using the theme “Empowering the Filipino through ICT,” Convergence 2009 provided a series of discussions aimed at enhancing the people’s awareness of ICT as well as developing future ICT stakeholders. Among the talks given were career opportunities, resumé writing, call center work and interview tips for the students. — Louise G. Dumas

from BusinessWorld

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