World Bank urges Philippines to address funding, infrastructure challenges

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Louella Desiderio – The Philippine Star

February 10, 2024 | 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines need to address challenges in terms of funding, lack of digital infrastructure and technical competencies as local government units (LGUs) are looking to develop smart cities, the World Bank said.

Citing a survey covering 115 urban LGUs conducted by the Department of the Interior and Local Government and the multilateral lender, World Bank urban geographer Sarah Antos and consultant Yimin Zhou said there is considerable interest in the development of smart cities in the country, with 70 percent planning for such.

Smart cities are urban areas that use technology and innovation to improve its functionality, sustainability and liveability for its residents and the environment.

The survey also showed that 61 percent of the respondents have smart city projects, while 56 percent have policies in place to support such development.

“While national government agencies and LGUs’ enthusiasm and commitment toward smart city transitions are plausible, the journey faces significant challenges,” Antos and Zhou said.

About 67 percent of the LGU respondents cited lack of funding as a major challenge even as 72 percent have set aside a budget to support smart city projects.

In addition, 59 percent cited lack of digital infrastructure and systems as a challenge in smart city development.

More than half or 57 percent also cited lack of technical competencies and manpower shortage as another challenge. 

Antos and Zhou said tackling challenges for a successful smart city development would require collaboration of the various stakeholders.

“Key elements include ongoing support from funding bodies, building strong technical skills, and partnering with academia,” they said.

In addition, they said tailored technologies for the Philippine urban context are necessary for sustainable and inclusive solutions.

“To ensure the continuity and sustainability of projects, LGUs will need to take proactive measures such as issuing ordinances,” they said, noting the change in leadership every three years.

Antos and Zhou also said gaining public trust is also important in pushing smart city development.

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