THE Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said it is hoping to secure between $200 million and up to $400 million from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) for the National Innovation Gateway (NIG), a project expected to spur application of advanced technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI).
“It’s not just going to be the CAIR [Center for Artificial Intelligence Research] but it will also include the ‘Industry 4.0 Pilot Factory,’” Rafaelita M. Aldaba, Undersecretary for DTI-Competitiveness and Innovation Group, told reporters on the sidelines of a news briefing last week.
To note, the CAIR is unfunded under the 2024 National Expenditure Program (NEP).
Aldaba said the funds would also go into the building of the NIG, which is expected to house modern facilities such as spaces for startups as well as a sandbox.
The Trade official said the construction is expected to start in 2025. Aldaba said DTI officials are in the process of negotiating the loan and the feasibility study.
“The construction will not take years. In Indonesia, they did it and they were able to complete the entire project [and] the structure,” the DTI official noted.
While the structure is yet to be put up, Aldaba unveiled the initiatives of the Trade department to bridge skills gaps to ramp up productivity in the Philippines with the use of AI. She said the DTI is pushing to subsidize more online courses, provide skills-based tax incentives for employers and promote government awareness campaigns to utilize the AI as a tool.
Despite government avoiding funding DTI’s tinkering with AI, the department is urged to continue doing so.
Senator Loren Legarda said at a budget hearing that the DTI should continuously conduct workshops and capacity-building initiatives on AI while the infrastructure is yet to be set up to help the country keep pace with the AI evolution in the global landscape.
“All our research on AI will not ensue until the structure is done and then we fund the acquisition of computers, etc.,” Legarda reportedly said during the hearing. “So that by 2025 and beyond…so by that time, all Asean neighbors advance, tayo wala.”
Aldaba said the agency would need funds for space, supercomputers and salaries to hire all necessary staff. Citing a report published by Microsoft Corp. last May, the Trade official emphasized that “Generative AI” technology alone can unlock $79.3 billion in productive capacity in the Philippines.
According to the report, 54 percent of the potential economy-wide gains would come from manufacturing and wholesale and retail trade.
The study also revealed that more than half or 56 percent of the Filipino workforce will potentially use Generative AI in 5 percent to 20 percent of their activities at work.
“It is estimated that only 1 percent of the Philippine workforce would see generative AI used for more than 20 percent of their work,” the report noted.
Meanwhile, at a recent forum, Aldaba cited calculations of EDBI and Kearney for the Philippines noting that, if successfully implemented, AI could result in a $29-billion contribution to the country’s economy. The latter translates to around 12 percent of the country’s gross domestic product.