Sri Lanka launches national initiative for digital technology awareness, adoption in Northern Province
Sri Lanka’s Information and Communication Technology Agency (ICTA) together with the country’s Ministry of Technology, the Telecommunication Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka (TRCSL), telecommunications partners, and industry partners, has reportedly launched a two-day forum recently with the objective of creating awareness about the national digital transformation agenda for the country and engaging with regional partners to create a conducive environment in the Northern Province for digital technology development.
This northern forum is the first of the five regional cluster development programmes planned in the Western Province, Southern Province, Eastern Province, and Central Province, according to local media reports.
The initiative reportedly focuses on creating collaboration among stakeholders in the northern region such as government agencies, industry partners, and the SME sector working in agriculture technology and education technology to introduce new and advanced technologies from local and international experts, providing necessary support for new technology research and development, and connecting solution providers with technology-based companies.
Ministry of Technology Secretary Jayantha De Silva, commenting on this initiative, has been quoted as saying, “We need to facilitate and support our young talent whom I believe are second to none. To do that, we need to create more jobs, use technology to increase productivity, build capacity and develop the supporting infrastructure in the regions. We have plans to establish five technology parks and revamp two IT parks in Jaffna and Mannar. The IT/BPM industry itself requires 300,000 technology professionals and we have many initiatives planned to achieve this goal. As a nation we are now on a progressive path for the betterment of future generations. We want everyone to be a part of this journey and reap its benefits.”
ICTA Chairman Prof. Lalith Gamage has said, “We at ICTA are facilitators of the national digital transformation agenda and have developed a comprehensive strategy to deliver this. We have identified five areas – digital government, digital economy, digital laws and policies, digital services, and digital technology. Digital government focuses on digitalising citizen-centric services, ease of doing business, and digitalising services for government efficiency. We have developed a foundational framework to deliver this and are progressing in this area.” He added: “In line with the digital economy strategy, five key pillars are identified as drivers to achieve our vision of making Sri Lanka a digitally inclusive nation. Namely, technology industry development, startup ecosystem development, capacity building, technology diffusion, and regional cluster development. We have many supporting initiatives to implement these and take the message of digital transformation to grassroots levels.”
ICTA Chief Digital Economy Officer Anura De Alwis has noted “We started this initiative from the Northern Province since, according to statistics and information, we believe that the Northern Province would be a fast adopter of our digital transformation initiatives. For example, the second largest startup community in Sri Lanka is represented by the Northern Province. And we want to take that message to the other regions as well. We at ICTA are facilitators. We have facilitated many initiatives to support startups such as an alternative credit framework for startups, removing impediments for startup development through the spiralation programme. We want to support our startups to go to the global stage. Many programmes are in place to develop digitally capable youth, future-ready women, digitally capable differently abled persons, and the digitally capable elderly generation.”
Sri Lanka’s Northern Province is emerging as a potential business/investment destination with the government of Sri Lanka focusing on developing a port and an airport to become regional hubs. The Northern Province’s close proximity to India has made it an attractive destination for many Indian businesses/investors. However, the Northern Province is an emerging business opportunity that is open for foreign businesses/investors.
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