ICTA to over-deliver President’s pledge of free Wi-Fi

Provision of free Wi-Fi facilities, fairly distributed over the island, both in urban and rural areas, will ceremonially begin at the Colombo Fort railway station on Monday 30, March 2015 with the participation of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe, Mangala Samaraweera, Minister of External Affairs, Ranjith Madduma Bandara, Minister of Internal Transport and Ajith P. Perera, Deputy Minister of External Affairs.

The facility will be simultaneously made available at around 20 more locations including railway stations, public libraries, hospitals and other public places in Jaffna, Kandy, Matara, Galle, Polonnaruwa and Ratnapura. These are the premier locations to be powered with free Wi-Fi in the first round of a map of 1,000 locations.

The objective of this program is to provide free Internet access for Sri Lankan citizens empowering them with the global knowledge in the digital age. It will also engage citizens in policy making of the government and contributing towards good governance. Information and Communication Technology Agency (ICTA) spearheads this project, with the able assistance of the Telecommunication Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka (TRCSL) and the local telecom service providers.

The election manifesto of the President Maithripala Sirisena, ‘Compassionate Government – A Stable Country’, under section 11 ‘A meaningful substantial media freedom’, states: “To enrich the citizens of the country with important information, knowledge necessary for life and advanced cultural enjoyment, mass media has been active in submerging him/her in simple commercial pleasures. Matters worth attention and that should reach the attention of society are hidden and trivial matters without substance are highlighted in the media. Therefore, it is proposed to establish Wi-Fi zones at public places in all towns to supply free Internet facilities.”

ICTA earlier stated this was more than a mere fulfillment of an election pledge. Free Wi-Fi is offered because government understands free and unrestricted Internet access is more a fundamental right. The citizens from all walks of life and from different parts of the country will now benefit from the Free-Wi-Fi program.

Sri Lanka will be one the first countries in South Asia to take such initiatives and be able to deploy it in such a short time.

ICTA further says that ‘Free Wi-Fi’ should not be taken as a ‘Free lunch’. It is not a subsidy. The cost of providing the facility will not be passed on to the treasury or telecom companies. Instead free Wi-Fi is offered as a part of a feasible business model. Investments made by operators will be justified by the earnings of the developments. The telecom operators have already agreed to provide free 100 MB volume of internet data monthly per citizen at 512 Kbps bandwidth. They will invest on all required infrastructure to establish 1,000 hotspots and manage same. While most locations are already confirmed, the rest will be selected from a list of 1,300 locations ICTA has prepared.

Chithrangani Mubarak, Chairperson of ICTA states: “It is wonderful to note that social unity among the public and private sector has enabled ICTA to fulfill one its key objective of ICT penetration in the country. I am amazed as to how such a large-scale implementation can be achieved in such a short time. This clearly shows that the true benefit of this partnership to deliver such services was unimaginable before. I take this opportunity to thank all the stakeholders on this project”
Muhunthan Canagey CEO of ICTA says: “It was an ambitious dream for ICTA to spearhead such a telecom roll out within a period of 60 to 90 days. The telecom operators, along with the team at ICTA and TRC were able to drive such an ambitious and dynamic initiative”

There were many technical and interoperability that needed to be finalized between all telecom operators, however the spirit of all parties were positive which enabled ICTA to deliver more than the promise made by the government at the last election.

Muhunthan Canagey further adds that there were many factors other than technical and policy that needed to be considered, such as selection of locations where most public will find it convenient to use. The consensus were reached by the teams that the locations shall include all state universities, limited professional education institutions, all railway stations, central bus stands, district secretariat, A grade base hospitals, public parks, public libraries, museums and limited Government offices and district secretariats will provide free Wi-Fi facilities. The distribution of ‘free Wi-Fi’ locations shall be proportionately distributed across all districts.

Concerns have already been raised about the free limit of 100 MB. While it might be not much for a PC user, more than half of the mobile users in Sri Lanka typically use less than this amount per month. Another technical difficulty in offering more is the difficulty in determining the usage patterns and how that will change the operator networks. So 100 MB will only be the starting point. ICTA plans to review this limit after analyzing the usage for few months. ICTA also thinks the limit should not be uniform and can change depending upon the requirements. For example, a rural location that needs more assistance can be given a higher limit than what is offered at an urban location.

ICTA also says the project goes far beyond offering free Wi-Fi. Even if the ‘free’ part is completely forgotten it is having 1,000 more Wi-Fi hot spots at otherwise commercially non-viable locations. Wi-Fi offers broadband access at half of the cost otherwise. Even without the free offering Wi-Fi can reduce the cost of 1 GB to less than Rs. 100. So, even an advanced user can maintain the broadband bill within a lower value by shifting to Wi-Fi. This trend is already seen in the developed countries.

The first free Wi-Fi 25 locations include the railway stations of Colombo Fort, Jaffna, Matara, Polonnaruwa, Kandy, Peradeniya, Galle; bus stands at Pettah and Matara; public libraries of Colombo and Jaffna; hospitals of Polonnaruwa and Karapitiya and museums of Colombo and Ratnapura. In addition the facility will be simultaneously opened at several locations including Katunayake Airport, Police Headquarters in Colombo, Dutch Hospital and Galle face areas in Colombo, Foreign Employment Bureau at Battaramulla and Dehiwala zoological gardens. These locations are just symbolical and indicate at what categories of locations the facility will be available in future.

The Information and Communication Technology Agency (ICTA) of Sri Lanka is the apex ICT institution of the Government. In terms of the Information and Communication Technology Act No. 27 of 2003 (ICT Act) ICTA has been mandated to take all necessary measures to implement the Government’s Policy and Action Plan in relation to ICT. In terms of section 6 of the ICT Act, ICTA is required to assist the Cabinet of Ministers in the formulation of the National Policy on ICT and provide all information necessary for its formulation. ICTA is wholly owned by the Government of Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka invited to join Budapest Cybercrime Convention – ICTA

In a historic ICT policy achievement, Sri Lanka has now become the first country in South Asia to be invited to join the Budapest Cybercrime Convention. This was communicated in a letter sent to the Secretary Foreign Affairs recently by the Secretary General of the Council of Europe. It was consequent upon a decision of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe.

The Budapest Convention on Cybercrime is also known as the Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime. It is the only available international treaty on the subject seeking to address Internet and computer crime by harmonizing national laws, improving investigative techniques, and increasing cooperation among nations.

Alexander Seger, the Head of Cybercrime Division of the Council of Europe said that “the Budapest Cybercrime Convention is an international Convention open for any country to accede that is prepared to implement it. Not only European countries but also states such as the USA, Australia, Japan, Dominican Republic or Mauritius are already parties. Others such as Argentina, Costa Rica, Mexico, Morocco, Senegal, South Africa and the Philippines have signed it or been invited to accede. Sri Lanka is now one of them. We hope that other countries of South Asia will follow Sri Lanka’s example and fully engage in international cooperation against cybercrime.”

Commenting on this ground-breaking policy achievement for the ICT sector, ICTA’s Chairperson Ms. Chitranganie Mubarak said: “Joining a European Convention of this nature will be a tremendous boost to Sri Lanka in terms of how the country is perceived in the international arena for ICT”

Underlining the benefits that will accrue to Sri Lanka by joining this Convention, ICTA Programme Director/ Legal Advisor Jayantha Fernando said: “Accession to the Convention will significantly help in the successful investigation of Cybercrime offences. It will also help in law enforcement and judicial cooperation at international level, while ensuring human rights safeguards in the investigation process”.

Explaining further, Fernando said “Cybercrime offences are transnational and multi-jurisdictional in nature. Therefore, the effective fight against cybercrime requires us to obtain evidence stored on computer systems and networks in other countries. The Budapest Convention facilitates cooperation to this effect. The Convention will greatly enhance the gathering of electronic evidence, the investigation of cyber laundering and other serious crimes”.

Elaborating on the benefits, Fernando said :“Joining this Convention will help Sri Lanka to become a South Asian hub for cybercrime enforcement. This can lead to the establishment of a Centre of Excellence to train law enforcement professionals on cybercrime issues”.

As regards the Commitments under the Budapest Cybercrime Convention, Jayantha Fernando stated: “The Sri Lankan Computer Crimes Act No. 24 of 2007 was founded on the principles contained in the Budapest Convention on Cybercrime. As such Sri Lanka already has the required domestic legislation to accede to this convention”.

A significant amount of work was done before Sri Lanka was invited to join this important Convention. The ICT Agency of Sri Lanka (ICTA) took the lead policy initiative in this connection, with the support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Justice. As required under the rules of procedures of the Convention it was necessary to obtain the unanimous agreement of all state parties to the Convention before Sri Lanka could be invited. Following informal and formal consultations with state parties full consensus was achieved to invite Sri Lanka.

ICTA launches triple e-service for motor vehicles

In a further step to making lives easy through Information and Communication Technology (ICT) three motor vehicle related e-services were launched recently (3).

The ICT Agency of Sri Lanka (ICTA) and the Department of Motor Traffic (DMT) came together in launching this triple e-service. The three e-services will provide information on the following: Details of the vehicle, last registration number of a given vehicular category and the period of validity and date of expiry of the vehicle revenue license.

This threefold Information could be obtained by visiting the DMT website www.motortraffic.gov.lk and the Sri Lanka country portal, www.srilanka.lk . The same service could be obtained through a smart phone by downloading the newly developed mobile app. Furthermore vehicle information and status of vehicle revenue license too could be obtained by sending an sms to 1919 using the basic code dmt info<vehicle no> and dmt rls<vehicle no>.

Online information on vehicle information is available at two levels: Limited information and Full information. Limited information is free of charge and comprises information on seven sub-heads. A sum of Rupees 150 is payable for full information which is provided under 15 sub-heads. Payment for the service could be made through the credit card and mobile cash.

The launch held at the Sri Lanka Institute of Development Administration (SLIDA) in Colombo was graced by Hon. Ranjith Madduma Bandara, Minister of Internal Transport as the Chief Guest.

Hon. Ranjith Madduma Bandara, Minister for Internal Transport delivering his address expressed his gratitude to ICTA and DMT for making people’s life easy through the three e-services. The Minister said that this launch greatly contributed to fulfilling the pledges of the 100-day programme. Elaborating on the subject the Minister said: “Currently there are 5.7 million motor vehicles in the country and 4 million people travel daily in vehicles. If we could reduce travelling to the DMT at least by 20 per cent by making it possible to obtain services from home we would have achieved much. I request ICTA and DMT to make it possible for people to obtain all their motor vehicle related services from home”.

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Government ready to offer more ‘free Wi-Fi’ to its citizens

ICT Agency of Sri Lanka (ICTA) spearheads the free Wi-Fi project and delivers more than what was promised on the pledges made before election.

The Internet connectivity a citizens right program also know as the “Free Wi-Fi” was spearheaded by the ICTA along with the support of all telecommunication operators in Sri Lanka.

The objective of this program was to facilitate the Sri Lankan Citizens to be able to have access to Internet for a variety of purposes. The government’s objective was to enable its citizens to engage in policy making of the government and contributing towards good governance. Citizen will be provided with “free Wi-Fi” in specific locations across the country. The first 250 locations will be launched before 31st March 2015, while the balance 750 locations will be completed within 60 to 90 days.

Hon. Ajith P. Perera, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and Telecommunication said “that providing free Wi-Fi facilities to more than 1000 locations in the country during the next 30 to 90 days was more than a mere fulfillment of an election pledge. The citizens from all walks of life and from different parts of the country will now benefit from the Free Wi-Fi program”

Addressing a media briefing held at the ICT Agency of Sri Lanka (ICTA) the Deputy Minister further emphasized that in the current rapidly changing world, internet facilities were no more a luxury but only an utility service like water, electricity and gas. The Deputy Minister said that it was because of this that the current Government had changed its original plan and decided to provide speedier Wi-Fi facilities to a larger number of locations.

Reminiscing the past as one who belonged to the group of students who received school level computer education for the first time in 1983, the Deputy Minister said that he had got that opportunity as a result of an action, current Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe had taken as the then Education Minister, which included of setting up of computer facilities and training the youth at village level.

Hon. Mangala Samaraweera, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Telecommunication proposed that all telecommunication companies must be part of this ambitious journey and the country must take pride of its adoption to the digital age. We must do a lot more to make the Internet to truly become people’s consumer right. The Deputy Minister also said that the supply of free Wi-Fi facilities is just the beginning of the government’s digital initiative.

Creating Wi-Fi zones that supply free Internet facilities in every main city of the country is a presidential election pledge of current President Maitripala Sirisena.

Mrs Chithranganie Mubarak Chairperson of ICTA stated, “It is wonderful to note that social unity among the public and private sector has enabled ICTA to fulfill one its key objective of ICT penetration in the country. I am amazed as to how such a large-scale implementation can be achieved in such a short time. This clearly shows that the true benefit of this partnership to deliver such services was unimaginable before. I take this opportunity to thank all the stakeholders on this project”

Mr Muhunthan Canagey, Managing Director/CEO of ICTA said “It was an ambitious dream for ICTA to spearhead such a telecommunication rollout within a period of 60 to 90 days. The telecommunication operators, along with the team at ICTA and TRC were able to drive such an ambitious and dynamic initiative”

There were many technical and interoperability that needed to be finalized between all telecommunication operators, however the spirit of all parties were positive which enabled ICTA do deliver more than the promise made by the government at the last election.

Mr Muhunthan Canagey further added that there were many factors other than technical and policy that needed to be considered, such as selection of locations where most public will find it convenient to use. The consensus were reached by the teams that the locations shall include all state universities, limited professional education institutions, all railway stations, central bus stands, district secretariat, A grade base hospitals, public parks, public libraries, museums and limited Government offices and district secretariats will provide free Wi-Fi facilities. The distribution of ‘free Wi-Fi’ locations shall be proportionately distributed across all districts. The initial limit shall be 100 MB per citizen per month and can be accessed at a speed of 512Kbps.

Sri Lanka will be one the first countries in South Asia to take such initiatives and be able to deploy it in such a short time.

The Information and Communication Technology Agency (ICTA) of Sri Lanka is the apex ICT institution of the Government. In terms of the Information and Communication Technology Act No. 27 of 2003 (ICT Act) ICTA has been mandated to take all necessary measures to implement the Government’s Policy and Action Plan in relation to ICT. In terms of section 6 of the ICT Act, ICTA is required to assist the Cabinet of Ministers in the formulation of the National Policy on ICT and provide all information necessary for its formulation. The Government of Sri Lanka wholly owns ICTA.

New Chairperson, Board and leadership transition at ICTA

The Information and Communication Technology Agency of Sri Lanka (ICTA) announces the appointment of a new Chairperson and Board of Directors, with the change of Government. The new Board consists of Mrs Chitranganie Mubarak (Chairperson), Mr Muhunthan Canagey (Managing Director), Dr Ajith Madurapperuma, Mr Ananda Wijeratne, Mr Upul Kumarapperuma and Mr Chanuka Wattegama.

Mrs Chitranganie Mubarak is a BSc. Honours Graduate from the University of Colombo and is well known in the ICT sector for empowering rural communities with IT. She worked at ICTA, heading the e-Society Programme of the e-Sri Lanka Development Project for almost nine years, before joining a Senior Management position at SLIIT. She was instrumental in conceptualizing and launching close to 250 projects, with wide ranging development outcomes some of which have received international recognition. She is also a Member of the Board of the Faculty of Graduate Studies at the University of Kelaniya and a Member of the National Steering Committee on Food Security of the National Science Foundation. Prior to assuming duties at ICTA she was a Director at the Sri Lanka Export Development Board.

After a period of almost 12 years at ICTA its CEO Reshan Dewapura will be concluding his tenure, the new Board of Directors announced. Mr Muhunthan Canagey will be taking over responsibilities from Reshan. With the appointment of Muhunthan, the Government plans to widen the role of ICTA in the public and private sector, initiating and implementing the National ICT Policy, while also contributing to reforms, innovation and creating new opportunities for the local ICT industry. Muhunthan and Reshan will work together until the 28th of February 2015, to ensure a smooth transition of operations at ICTA.

Mr Muhunthan Canagey has been in the ICT industry for over two decades and is one of the country’s youngest entrepreneurs. He stepped into the field of IT at a very young age of 16. Canagey holds a Master’s Degree in Information Technology from the University of Keelle (UK) and has extensive knowledge of the industry. He was the founder and CEO of multiple technology enterprises and was the founder and CEO of a highly successful enterprise in the area of satellite communication and media: a first of this nature to be formed in Sri Lanka.

The ICTA Chairperson and Board of Directors while appreciating the dedicated services of Reshan Dewapura towards ICTA stated that “during Dewapura’s tenure as CEO and COO he helped steer the World Bank Funded e-Sri Lanka Development Project to a successful conclusion”.

In a recently published report the World Bank (available at www.icta.lk), while commending ICTA, noted that ICTA has developed into a capable and professional institution, which played a substantive role in the significant outcomes that the e-Sri Lanka Project has attained. The overall rating given to outcomes of e-Sri Lanka was satisfactory, which reflected that ICTA played an essential role in achieving the following key results:

  • Modernisation of Government services, development of several electronic services for citizens and business, and improvement of the internal efficiency of the Government
  • Provision of affordable access to information infrastructure and services.
  • Technical assistance to build capacity for ICT leadership
  • Improved policies and laws required for ICT diffusion
  • Increased ICT literacy in every part of the country
  • Promotion of IT and BPO exports, and mobilising of resources and innovation in ICT applications to meet priority social needs.

Implementing a results based M &E approach to improve project performances and measure outcome/ impacts Reshan Dewapura with over 27 years experience in the ICT industry, has been at ICTA since the inception of the organization in July 2003, and has held the posts of Director Information Infrastructure and Chief Operating Officer, prior to being appointed as CEO in 2010. Reshan also functioned as a Director at ICTA’s two subsidiary companies – Sri Lanka CERT (SLCERT) and Lanka Govt. Information Infrastructure (LGII). He is also a Board Director at the Sri Lanka Institute of Information Technology (SLIIT), as well as at the LKNIC (Sri Lanka’s Domain Registry). He is a member of the Governing Council of the National Institute of Business Management (NIBM).

The Information and Communication Technology Agency (ICTA) of Sri Lanka is the apex ICT institution of the Government. In terms of the Information and Communication Technology Act No. 27 of 2003 (ICT Act) ICTA has been mandated to take all necessary measures to implement the Government’s Policy and Action Plan in relation to ICT. In terms of section 6 of the ICT Act, ICTA is required to assist the Cabinet of Ministers in the formulation of the National Policy on ICT and provide all information necessary for its formulation. ICTA is wholly owned by the Government of Sri Lanka.

The rise of Sri Lanka’s e-government services

Sri Lanka as a country is growing rapidly in every aspect. The country has achieved better gross domestic product (GDP) rates, a single digit level inflation, a solid GDP per capita income and low unemployment rates over the last two years, with positive contributions from key sectors of the economy.

This growth is expected to produce better results in upcoming years with a high momentum, supported by an increase in investment, a favourable macroeconomic environment and continued recovery in the global economy.

By- Indika Zoysa
e.gov

Overlook of ICT sector

In such an environment, Sri Lanka’s Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector has grown in a remarkable fashion. According to the latest report titled ‘Sri Lankan IT/BPM Industry2014 Review’ by Sri Lanka Association of Software and Service Companies (SLASSCOM), IT sector’s export revenue grew from US$ 213 million in 2007 to an estimated US$ 720 million in 2013. Total employment grew from 33,700 in 2007 to an estimated 75,100 employees in 2013, and the number of companies in the industry grew from 170 in 2007 to over 220 in 2013.

The government has set a strategic goal for the sector which is to achieve US$ 1 billion worth of IT exports by 2016. ICT authority bodies such as the Ministry of Telecommunication and Information Technology, Information and Communication Technology Agency of Sri Lanka (ICTA) and SLASSCOM have worked tirelessly over the last five years with other stakeholders in the industry to make this US$ 1 billion target a realistic goal.

Global companies such as ATKearney, Gartner and IBM have already put Sri Lanka on the top of their global rankings and now the ICT sector is slowly progressing towards their next big goal; reaching US$ 5 billion in revenue, create 200,000 direct jobs and 1,000 startups by 2022.

Big win on e-Government services

One major area of progress for Sri Lanka was e-government. Sri Lanka was ranked number one in the South Asia by the United Nations, for country’s continuous developments in the e-government initiatives.

Sri Lanka has climbed 41 places from the 115th position in 2012 to 74th position in 2014 out of 192 countries, according to the report titled ‘United Nations E-Government Survey 2014’ which was compiled by the Economic and Social Affairs Department of United Nations. Sri Lanka is in a commanding position in the E-Government Development Index (EGDI), surpassing second ranked Maldives (94) and third ranked India (118). According to the report, country’s percentile ranking is 38.5 percent which means that Sri Lanka is in the top 40% of the countries in the world that are engaged in implementing robust e-government programmes.
Sri Lanka has also done well in the sub-indexes of the report where it has been included in the top 50 global e-participation performers. The country is ranked 33rd in the global e-participation sub-index and has secured the first place in the lower middle income group, and fifth place out of 48 lower middle income countries in the world and ranked seventh among the countries that has a high online service performance relative to income. Finally, Sri Lanka is globally ranked at the 37th place among top online service delivery countries, securing sixth place within its income group.

Sri Lanka started its E-Government initiative back in 2005 under the ‘e-Sri Lanka national development project’. The online portal offers A-Z government web indexes, 108 e-services for citizens, 51 e-services for businesses and 10 non-residence related e-services. The portal also offers extensive mobile and SMS services, an e-participation portal, easily accessible government forms, a developed open data portal with data available in various formats as well as whole-of-government strategy.

Importance

Considering these statistics, Sri Lanka has been able to significantly improve e-government processes and climb the rankings to become the number one in the South Asian region. There is more to be achieved, however, if Sri Lanka wants to compete with top global e-government countries such as Republic of Korea, Singapore and Australia. These numbers are going to affect several global rankings such as Network Readiness Index (NRI), Doing Business Index (DBI) and Global Competitive Index (GCI). ‘UN E-Government Survey’ is considered as a feeding tool for these rankings and the progress we have made here from 2012 to 2014 as a country would contribute to these global rankings to elevate the country’s position in the coming years.

The country should utilize e-government and innovation to offer momentous opportunities to convert public administration into a tool of sustainable growth.     E-government is ‘the use of ICT and its application by the government for the provision of information and public services to the people’ (Global E-Government Readiness Report 2004). In a broader aspect, e-government is the idea of using information technology tools in public administration to simplify and integrate processes to administer data and information in an effective manner to improve public service delivery, engage people using versatile communication channels and empower them. The opportunities offered by the digital development of recent years, whether through online services, big data, social media, mobile apps, or cloud computing, are expanding the way we look at e-government.

Through e-government innovations, public administrations around the world can be more competent, provide better services and respond to demands for transparency and accountability. E-government can help governments go green and promote effective natural resource management, as well as stimulate economic growth and promote social inclusion, particularly of disadvantaged and vulnerable groups. ICTs have also proven to be effective platforms to facilitate knowledge sharing, skills development, transfer of innovative e-government solutions and capacity-building for sustainable development among countries. E-government can generate important benefits in the form of new employment, better health and education.

The measurement sticks of government services are reliability and productiveness. When the services are electronically implemented, reliability and productiveness should increase with great discipline. Each and every person in the country finds benefits and their lives have been made easier by e-government services. This was the brainchild of ICTA whose main objective is to serve, fulfill and empower Sri Lankans through their e-government service.

On a final note, let me congratulate ICTA on their tremendous effort and finish by saying that ICT is the bedrock upon which we can dream of building a society with equitable distribution of opportunity and knowledge through robust e-government platform services.

(The writer is the Country Business Manager of Intel Sri Lanka Liaison Office)

Sri Lanka soars 41 places to rank 74 in UN e-Government Development Index

Making the biggest progress by a member country from its preceding ranking in the 2014 United Nations eGovernment Development Index (eGDI), Sri Lanka has advanced to the 74th position. At the preceding survey determining the eGDI which was in 2012 Sri Lanka’s position out of 193 countries was 115. Thus the 2014 United Nations eGDI of Sri Lanka is a jump traversing 41 positions. The rank reached by Sri Lanka out of 193 countries also places it within the first half of the highest ranked countries as well as the in the first position out of South Asian countries. The Maldives is at the 94th position. “The Sri Lankan Government has made a substantial effort to develop its online portal which now ranks 74th in the world. The online portal offers A-Z government web indexes, 108 e-services for citizens, 51 e-services for businesses and 10 non-residence related e-services. The portal also offers extensive mobile and SMS services, an e-participation portal, government forms easily accessible online, a developed open data portal with data available in various formats, as well as a whole-of-government strategy,” stated the 2014 UN – egov Development Index Report. “This is a significant achievement of all times by Sri Lanka,” ICT Agency (ICTA) CEO Reshan Dewapura said yesterday. The United Nations published the report on Wednesday in New York. e-government describes the use of technologies to facilitate the operation of government and the dispersement of government information and services. e-government, short for electronic government, deals heavily with Internet and non-internet applications to aid in governments. “Last year we worked hard on various fields in e-government and our tireless work has paid dividends,” said ICTA Re-engineering Government Program Director Wasantha Deshapriya.
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Smart Sri Lanka: Phase Two of National ICT Strategy

Smart-Sri-Lanka-700x525

Phase two of the Sri Lankan national ICT initiative is about to get underway with the name ‘Smart Sri Lanka’. Smart Sri Lanka has been formulated as the next version of the e-development program of the government, as the e-Sri Lanka project under the guidance of ICT Agency (ICTA) came to a close in December last year.

Premier objective of Smart Sri Lanka is to expedite the process for Sri Lanka to become a knowledge-based economy and information society, and eventually a knowledge hub in the region. Vital components of this phase include strategies for Smart Government, Smart Jobs, Smart Industries, Smart Information Society, Smart City, Smart Leadership and Smart Project Management.

ICTA CEO, Reshan Dewapura, explained Smart Sri Lanka, “As a result of bringing e-Sri Lanka to a close, there will not be any stoppage or projects half-way through. Instead, they would be updated and continued in line with new technologies and revamped strategies under the Smart Sri Lanka banner”.

Smart Sri Lanka project is to be implemented over five to six years, starting in the first quarter of 2014.

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‘Smart Sri Lanka’ revamped step forward for fulfilling challenges of Mahinda Chinthana Vision for the Future: ICTA CEO

The ICT Agency of Sri Lanka (ICTA) has decided to conclude the ‘e-Sri Lanka’ project but revamp and continue the e-Sri Lanka development initiative under the name ‘Smart Sri Lanka’.

ICTA CEO Reshan Dewapura underlined this when he participated at the Media Dialogue held at Hotel Galadari Colombo Wednesday (18).

Speaking further on the occasion ICTA CEO ensured that as a result of bringing ‘e-Sri Lanka’ to a close, there wouldn’t be any stoppage of projects carried out under the “e-Sri Lanka” initiative half-way through. They would instead be updated and continued according to new technologies and strategies. Dewapura said that ICTA was currently in the process of planning “Smart Government, Smart Jobs, Smart Industries, Smart Information Society, Smart City and Smart leadership and Smart Project Management. ICTA CEO pointed out that today ICT was the country’s fifth biggest exchange earner. S Much work spread over the past decade had gone into Sri Lanka reaching this stage.

The ICT literacy was 4 per cent in 2003, now it is 40 per cent. ICTA offered its full co-operation for the rehabilitation and reconstruction work in the North as well, Dewapura added.

ICTA Programme Director / Legal Advisor Jayantha Fernando presented to the media personnel participating in the media dialogue all the salient measures ICTA took in the legal angle for implementing e-Sri Lanka. The following sub titles under the main theme “Legal environment for ICT led Development” ‘Sri Lankan ICT Sector’, ‘Introduction’, ‘History of ICT Law Reform Process’, ‘Administrative Legal Framework for ICT Development’, ‘What is ICT law?’, ‘Some legislation for ICT development in Sri Lanka’, ‘Intellectual Property Act No. 36 of 2003’, ‘Patenting software – Sri Lanka’, ‘Protection of software – under Copyright’, ‘Software Copyright Protection in Sri Lanka I P Act No. 36 of 2003’, ‘Is copying of software allowed? Section 12(7) of IP Act’, ‘Liability for software violations’, ‘Role of software in the digital economy and licensing’, ‘Electronic transactions Act No. 19 of 2006’, ‘Impact of Electronic transactions Act – Recent Developments’, ‘Electronic Signature Framework’ (Providing for secured transactions),’ ‘Electronic Transactions Act Chapter V – Electronic Evidence’, ‘Payment Systems Reforms’, ‘Payment and Settlement Systems Act 2006’, ‘Mobile transactions and payment regime’, ‘Mobile payment guidelines’, ‘Mobile payment regulations’, ‘Computer Crime’ , ‘Computer Crimes Act No. 24 of 2007′,’Data protection approach in Sri Lanka’.

Jayantha Fernando concluded the presentation emphasizing that ‘laws relating to ICT continue to change”, “Laws will always remain behind technology”, “The progress of technology evolution will depend on how fast laws are able to adapt to changes” and that “change is a necessary reality”.

Addressing a long session in the morning ICTA Re-engineering Government Programme Director Wasantha Deshapriya took the audience comprising media personnel in all three languages through a journey of e-Government from inception to the present day. The other countries tried to create better public service by retaining the same procedures but easing them by automation instead of manual action. On the other hand ICTA tried first to change the procedure to more people friendly procedures more efficiently. A good beginning is half the victory in a battle. Similarly this good beginning has made Sri Lanka continue to have a winning edge over many countries in the field of e-Governance, Wasantha Deshapriya said concluding his comprehensive presentation entitled ‘Where are we in the Re-Gov roadmap?’

Other presentations included ‘eServices-Myth and Reality’ by ,ICTA Programme Head – eServices Kanchana Thudugala, ‘Impact of eSociety’ by ICTA Content Manager e- Society Shriyananda Rathnayake, ‘ How ICTA helped our Private sector’ by ICTA Project Development Executive Sachindra Samararathna, ‘Has Nenasala bridged the digital divide?’by ICTA Project Manager – Information Infrastructure. Gavaskar Subramanium, and Mastering Social Media and Sri Lanka’s news culture by Mr. Deepthi Kumara Gunaratna.

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New e-Government policy for good governance

The ICT Agency of Sri Lanka (ICTA) has decided to amend the eGovernment policy appropriately. Valuable deliberations and inter-action by eGovernment stakeholders took place recently for arriving at a new e-Government policy for Sri Lanka to embark on an era of better governance soon. That was when the workshop themed ‘eGovernment for good governance’ hosted by ICTA was held at Hotel Galadari, Colombo recently (3 Dec). A large number of Government Institution heads, Chief Innovation Officers (CIOs), representatives from Academia, the private sector and other institutions participated in the workshop. The event included addresses and presentations on ‘Background and introduction to new eGovernment Policy’, ‘eGovernment Policy – Vision and Overview of Policy’ and ‘Introduction to review process’ by the Review Committee. This was followed by group activities and group presentations comprising ratings of policy clauses with regard to qualities like clarity, applicability and implementability.

The first eGovernment policy in Sri Lanka ‘the ICT Policy and Procedures for the Government (eGovernment Policy)’ was initially approved by the Cabinet of Ministers on 16 December 2009. It was to be implemented by all Government organisations including ministries, Government departments, provincial councils, district secretariats, divisional secretariats and local Government authorities.

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Policy should be dynamic

With rapid changes in the technologies and with the advancement of eGovernment implementation, it is required to review and reformulate the eGoverment policy. Even at the time when the policy was approved, it had been identified that the policy should be dynamic and should be amended as and when necessary. In order to achieve this objective a committee comprising senior government officials, Chief Innovation Officers, academics, technologists and eGovernment experts have been set up to review and reformulate the eGovernment policy.

As planned, the eGovernment policy given the cabinet nod in 2009 was reviewed in March 2011 and in April 2012. Although the self-assessment by relevant stakeholders on their compliance with the 2009 policy was 55% in 2011 and 51% in 2012, two drawbacks surfaced in the review. One was that inter-institution understanding needed to be improved. The other was the maturity of the understanding of the eGovernment policy needed to be raised to a higher level.   In this backdrop ICTA carried out about 25 workshops island-wide including the North and East to ensure better orientation towards eGovernment policy among relevant stakeholders.  Presidential Secretary Lalith Weeratunga issued two circulars one in 2010 and other in 2011 urging compliance with the eGovernment policy.

Although the first eGovernment policy came into force in 2009 with the cabinet nod much behind-the-scenes work had been done in 2007 and 2008 as well towards formulating an appropriate eGovernment policy. In this endeavour ICTA availed itself also of developments in the field overseas.  Many governments and civil societies had identified eight key goals/pillars as the primary objectives of Good Governance.

10 Good Governance objectives

ICTA considered these good governance principles termed ‘Good Governance Octagon’ and formulated its own 10 Good Governance objectives. These are as follows:

Objective 1–Make government information available and accessible electronically to citizens through multiple channels

Objective 2 – Make government services electronically available and accessible to all citizens via multiple channels in a citizen friendly manner

Objective 3–Improve/Re-engineer government processes to be citizen centric

Objective 4– Use eGovernment to eliminate duplication in ICT Infrastructure, information collection, government processes and ICT solutions within and across government organisations

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Objective 5–Use of ICT to achieve, measure, monitor and publish defined service levels for all government services

Objective 6 – Address the requirements/needs of marginalised communities through ICT

Objective 7 – Implement processes and systems in government organisations to be highly responsive  and interactive through the use of ICT

Objective 8–Enable citizen engagement through electronic means for consensus driven, public policy and decision making process wherever authorized

Objective 9–Strengthen rule of law through the use of ICT

Objective 10 – Establish and implement of a proper enabling operational framework for successful eGovernance

Based on the vision ‘To be the most citizen-friendly Government through eGovernance’, ICTA through the eGovernment team has thus come up with a new draft eGovernment policy. The eGovernment policy of 2009 had 177 policy clauses. The new policy comprises 132 policy clauses formulated after group activities and inter-action taking into consideration the feedback, trends in technology and stakeholder thinking.

For view of the draft new eGovernment policy and expression of views log on to http://egovpolicyen.engage.icta.lk/. Views of stakeholders are welcome till 31 December 2013.

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