executive director, Cebu Educational Development Foundation for Information Technology (Cedf-it)

While academic organizations in Manila are busy promoting their respective programs and initiatives, a budding group of educators, information technology vendors, and non-government organizations based in Cebu are silently toiling to bring their city into the centre of the global ICT stage.

The Cebu Educational Development Foundation for Information Technology (Cedf-it), as early as now, is already preparing for Southern Philippines’ first ever international ICT convention aimed at promoting Cebu City as the country’s alternative ICT centre.

In an interview with select members of the Manila-based press, Cedf-it executive director Bonifacio Belen disclosed that the international convention slated in June, which will coincide with the celebration of the Cebu Business Month, will officially launch this southern city as a strong contender in the global ICT offshore market. Cebu is already well-known for its pristine resorts. Our goal now is to market the city as an ICT business centre — a destination that can offer both business and pleasure.Bonifacio Belen >Text

“Cebu is already well-known for its pristine resorts,” he said. “Our goal now is to market the city as an ICT business centre — a destination that can offer both business and pleasure.”

Established in 2001, Cedf-it was the offshoot of the success of the First Cebu IT Summit held three years ago. Back then, the summit conveners identified the need to enhance the quality and quantity of the city’s human resources in the IT industry.

Responding to this challenge, major players in the industry, academe and government signed a memorandum of understanding that, eventually, led to the creation of Cedf-it. Five industry players, two NGOs, and eight universities became the founding members of the consortium.

“Part of Cedf-it’s vision, on top of promoting the development of ICT-centric education, is to serve as an advocacy group for the formulation of pertinent IT policies, appropriate local legislation, and incentive programs for ICT firms; as well as a marketing arm that will help attract more ICT companies,” Belen said.

Cedf-it’s head, however, clarified that the organization — and Cebu in general — does not intend to directly contest Manila’s positioning as the Philippine ICT hub. Elaborating, he said: “We will not compete with the ‘Philippine brand.’ Our aim is just to provide an alternate destination. If the investors do not prefer the crowded sites in Manila, they can take a look at Cebu. Wherever their choice may be, at least, we’ll still get them to invest in the country.”

Cedf-it, now with more than 50 member-firms, hopes to attract up to 1,000 international trade visitors to its first ICT convention. The organization is also partnering with the Department of Trade and Industry in promoting the show this coming June.

Aside from its upcoming ICT convention, Cedf-it is working on its other flagship projects, that include the IT Teachers Academy which aims to immerse teachers in the industry to make them professors cum practitioners, the Professional Certification and Training Center that would assure quality and competence in ICT practice and teaching, the HR Survey and Monitoring Unit that churns out credible baseline data on Cebu’s human resource “supply,” and the Research and Development Institutionalization Unit that will spearhead the creation of a centre of excellence among the Cedf-it member-schools.