National Initiative launched towards nurturing digital technology awareness and adoption in Southern region

August 25, 2021

The Information and Communication Technology Agency (ICTA) is the pioneer of digital transformation, aiming to make Sri Lanka a digitally inclusive Nation. ICTA together with the Ministry of Technology, Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (TRCSL), telecommunications partners and industry partners launched a two-day national forum to create awareness about the national digital transformation agenda, which also engages regional partners. The Southern Region Roadshow was the second of the five regional cluster development programs commenced by ICTA. The first Regional development Roadshow was organized in June focusing on the Northern Region. There will be three more Roadshows in the Western, Eastern, and Central Regions scheduled to unfold in the next few months.

Southern Region Roadshow was attended virtually by over 500 participants and was connected with officials representing five Districts in Southern Region – Galle, Matara, Hambanthota, Monaragala and Rathnapura. This initiative focuses on collaborating with stakeholders in the southern region such as government agencies, industries, SME sector working in agriculture & education to introduce new and advanced technologies via experts, providing necessary infrastructure for new technological research and development.

The main Stakeholder Engagement forum on the 20th of August was attended by over 350 online participants, which was parallelly interpreted into Sinhala, Tamil, and Sign languages to ensure a broader reach to a larger audience. The Government Forum on the 21st was conducted with an online presence of over 200 participants and staff from southern region. District Secretaries of the Galle, Matara, Hambanthota, Monaragala and Rathnapura joined the dialog from the district offices. The overall forum was applauded by the audience as it catered to all those who speak on or more of the three main languages in one national event. 

Ministry of Technology Secretary Jayantha De Silva commenting on this initiative stated that the ministry has taken steps to ensure efficiency in facilitating and delivering the services to the public. He added that it is only a matter of putting resources together to uplift Sri Lanka to achieve developed status.   With the strength and resources, we have we are determined to bring technology into the right place.

Chairman of ICTA and Director General of Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (TRC) Oshada Senanayake, stated, “ICTA being the catalysing agent as well as the accelerator, will also become the catalyst and enabler of all the government institutes of the country. ICTA has taken the pragmatic steps with the vision to make a digitally transformed Sri Lanka by the verticals Digital government, Digital Economy and Perspective of Digital services”. 

Chief Digital Economy Officer of ICTA, Anura De Alwis speaking at the session said that their target is to achieve 3 billion exports by 2024. To make that a reality the country will need 300,000 employees, while the current number stands at approximately 175,000. The focus has been on service engineering in the last few decades, while product building is the key for global conquest. A product is the best way to secure more IPs, revenue and FDI. He also added that there was a great response from the Northern cluster after the first Roadshow in June and initiatives are in place for certain key developments such as IOT labs, innovation centres and also the tier two of the techno park, which is a centre of business in Jaffna.

The official launch of the Sabaragamuwa Start-up Hub also took place at the event under the precedence of the Founder of the start-up hub, Uditha Sampath Bandara with the intention of supporting start-ups, companies, and freelancers in the region. Uditha further mentioned that they have a five-year plan with the Sabaragamuwa Start-up Hub including increasing the numbers of members, create awareness through workshops and conduct IT competitions. Start-up Ecosystem Development Director Sachindra Samararatne mentioned that for the eco systems to work properly the regions should come together and they have successfully formed two eco systems which are Uva Start-up hub and Yarl IT hub.

MOUs were signed by the five Chambers of Commerce in Southern Region Galle, Matara, Hambantota, Ratnapura and Monaragala with ICTA signifying the partnership between both organisations in moving towards developing digital technology in the Southern region.

A special thank was extended to all partners who have joined in this national initiative; Ministry of Technology, Five District Secretaries of Galle, Matara, Hambantota, Ratnapura and Monaragala,  Telecommunication Regulatory Commission, Dialog Axiata Ltd., Sri Lanka Telecom and Mobitel, Bharati Airtel Lanka Ltd., Hutchison Telekom Sri Lanka, Lanka Bell Ltd., SL Association of Software Services Companies (SLASSCOM), Federation of Information Technology Sri Lanka (FITIS), Chairman British Computer Society (BCS), CSSL, SLINTEC, SLIBTEC, Bhasha Lanka (Pvt) Ltd and special thanks to all the Government & private sector and all those who connected from the Southern region. A note of appreciation and special acknowledgement was extended at the ICTA officials for their tremendous effort to make the event a success.