Anna Mae Lamentillo
Next week, the Philippines will host the 3rd ASEAN Digital Ministers Meeting (ADGMIN), ASEAN Digital Senior Officials Meeting (ADGSOM) and related meetings with dialogue partners. This will be the first in-person ADGMIN and ADGSOM since the pandemic. This will be held on Feb. 6-10, 2023, spearheaded by the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT).
The ADGMIN and ADGSOM were previously named as ASEAN Telecommunications Ministers Meeting (TELMIN) and ASEAN Telecommunications Senior Officials Meeting (TELSOM), respectively. The renaming was agreed upon during the 19th TELMIN in October 2019 in Lao PDR to reflect the role of ICT as an enabler of digital transformation for other sectors, as well as to transform the region into a digitally enabled economy and society.
The ADGMIN guides the ASEAN towards a digitally enabled economy and society in support of digital trade, economic integration and cooperation towards the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC); prepares the ASEAN for the new digital economy and society by building greater connectivity, integration and capabilities; enhances the overall competitiveness of the ASEAN region through digitalization of governments, businesses and society; and facilitates the development of the ASEAN digital economy and society, where its citizens are able to work, communicate and recreate in the knowledge-based economy.
Meanwhile, the ADGSOM coordinates and implements digital transformation related policies, programs and activities in ASEAN, in line with the policy directions and priorities as set out by the ADGMIN and the ASEAN Digital Masterplan; enhances the coordination among the relevant ASEAN sectoral bodies in order to effectively coordinate cross-cutting issues, drive economic growth and social development, as well as effectively implement the ADMP and related work programs; engage ASEAN Dialogue Partners and relevant stakeholders including private sector organizations, associations and commercial entities to advance the digital transformation and digital economy agenda in ASEAN; and coordinates its cooperation activities with the ASEAN Senior Economic Officials Meeting (SEOM) through the ASEAN Secretariat.
In 2020, during the first-ever ADGMIN, the members launched the ASEAN Digital Masterplan 2025 (ADM2025) to guide the region’s digital cooperation over the next five years. The masterplan comprises of eight desired outcomes: (1) To speed up ASEAN’s recovery from Covid-19; (2) Increase the quality and coverage of fixed and mobile broadband infrastructure; (3) The delivery of trusted digital services and prevention of consumer harm; (4) A sustainable competitive market for the supply of digital services; (5) Increase in the quality and use of e-government services; (6) Digital services to connect businesses and facilitate cross-border trade; (7) Increased capacity of businesses and people to participate in the digital economy; and, (8) A digitally inclusive society in ASEAN.
During the 2nd ADGMIN, the members welcomed the progress made in the first year of the ADM2025, which laid a strong foundation in accelerating the region’s digital transformation, and transforming ASEAN into a leading digital community and economic bloc, powered by secure and transformative digital services, technologies and ecosystem.
This year, at the 3rd ADGMIN, which carries the theme, “Synergy Towards a Sustainable Digital Future,” we hope to accelerate efforts in maximizing the competencies of every ASEAN citizen in the field of ICT. What we would want to stress here is that digital transformation is not only about the infrastructure and systems, because true digital transformation can be realized by engaging the citizenry and forming cohesive partnerships and cooperation among different industries and sectors of civil society.
We want a synergized human-centric approach within the ASEAN, which shall be the key enabler to launching a more stable and more sustainable digitization process and platform in the ASEAN region, but always bearing in mind that technology can be futile without the people and their skills behind them.