The Information and Communication Technology Agency (ICTA) – the pioneer of digital transformation aiming to make Sri Lanka a digitally inclusive Nation – together with the Ministry of Technology, Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (TRCSL), telecommunications partners and industry partners launched a one-day Roadshow to create awareness about the national digital transformation agenda, which also engages regional partners.
The Western Region Roadshow was the final event for this year out of the five regional cluster development programs commenced by ICTA. The first Regional Development Roadshow was organized in June focusing on the Northern Region while the second, third and fourth Regional Development Roadshows also took place successfully in the Southern, Central and Eastern Regions. This was the final Roadshow for the year.
Over 1500 participants attended the Western Region Roadshow and met with officials representing the Western Province. This initiative focuses on collaborating with stakeholders in the Western region such as government agencies, telecommunications and technology industry officials, SME sectors working in agriculture, education and other industries to introduce new and advanced technologies via experts, providing necessary infrastructure for new technological research and development.
The main Stakeholder Engagement forum held on the 10th of December was attended by participants physically and remotely. The event was interpreted in parallel into Sinhala, Tamil, and Sign languages ensuring the reach of a larger audience. The Government Forum was also held the same day and conducted with a physical presence of District Secretaries and the other officials joining from their respective locations from the Western Province.
The Secretary to the Minister of Technology, Mr. Jayantha De Silva initiated the session by taking a different outlook to indicate where exactly the focus is as a policy or as the ministry by taking the fisheries industry as an example. He pointed out the importance of the involvement of different stakeholders of the community, just as the how it is currently with the evolving ICT industry. He further stated that the only way Sri Lanka can shift from a third world country to a first world country is through technology.”
Chairman of ICTA and the Director General of Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (TRC) Mr. Oshada Senanayake, commenced the event with a positive note “Technology is not only about Colombo anymore, it has to be taken to every root and corner or we cannot achieve the vision we have” He further added that “This program is not the likes of us giving speeches, it is about enabling and ensuring that we support our next generations of entrepreneurs or techpreneurs that’s coming from all these regions in the journey towards driving Sri Lanka towards a potential Digital Economy that will set Sri Lanka apart from other nations.”
CEO of ICTA, Mr. Mahinda B. Herath said “The National Digital Transformation Strategy was approved on 16th November 2020 by the cabinet of ministers and has been entrusted to ICTA as the apex body of the government on ICT to drive this digital transformation. The Digital Transformation Strategy stands on two solid pillars; Strategy for Digital Government and Digital Economy.” He further spoke about the national developments and achievements that are based on these two pillars so far driving Sri Lanka towards the Digital Transformation.
Chief Digital Economy Officer, Mr. Anura De Alwis, started his speech by reminding the three targets of the 3 billion exports FDI by 2024, 1000 successful start-ups and a workforce of 300,000 and we are confident that our targets will over achieve. He concluded with “We have done the JLL report for this year shows how the country was attractive to the rest of the world even amidst the pandemic. We are coming up next year reminding you that we continue this journey with more investment promotions, bringing our start-up ecosystem more outputs, six MNZs that we are planning to work with in Sri Lanka and a huge pile of work planned out for 2022.”
The official launch of Western Start-up Hub also took place at the event and Ecosystem Development Director, Mr. Sachindra Samararatne stated “We launched our own space for start-ups and start up hubs called SPARX Lab at ICTA last week and today we have come upon the initiation of two new start-up hubs, the Ruhunu Start-up Hub and the Wayamba Start-up Hub.” The start-up ecosystem development is supporting people on the ground and is creating that impact in various provinces. It is generating employment and giving a good lifestyle for people.”
MOUs were signed by the North Central Province Chambers of Commerce in Central region, with ICTA signifying the partnership between both organizations in moving towards developing digital technology in the Central region.
A special thanks was extended to all the partners who have joined this national initiative; Ministry of Technology, District Secretaries of Colombo Gampaha and Kalutara, Telecommunication Regulatory Commission, Dialog Axiata Ltd., Sri Lanka Telecom and Mobitel, Bharti 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, and special thanks to all the Government & private sector and all those who connected from the Western region. A note of appreciation and special acknowledgement was extended at the ICTA officials for their tremendous effort to make this event organised, by the Regional Cluster Development team together with Communication management team, a success.