ICT, enabler in country’s development: ICTA CEO


From left: hSenid Group of Companies CEO Dinesh Saparamadu, ICTA CEO Reshan Dewapura, Etisalat Lanka Pvt. Ltd. Director/CEO Dumindra Ratnayaka, UN’s Sri Lanka Resident/Humanitarian Coordinator Subinay Nandy and eNovation 4D Lead Consultant Dr. Harsha Liyanage

ICT has been the enabler in the country’s tremendous improvement and development, says Information and Communication Technology of Sri Lanka (ICTA) CEO Reshan Dewapura.

"Today post-war Sri Lanka has seen ICT creating an enabling environment for the Government, private sector and civil society to develop as individual sectors, and together as a Nation. Information and Communication Technology has been that transformational tool that has broken down barriers, started creating a true cyber class, and brought in that inclusivity for all our citizens: In other words, it has been a great leveler".

ICTA CEO said so while participating at the media briefing on and launch of the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) Information Economy Report 2012 held in Colombo Wednesday.

Speaking further on the occasion ICTA CEO underlining the importance of Sri Lanka being featured in the renowned report went on to say:

"The report highlights the rapid growth of the software industry in Sri Lanka, in the last decade or so and the significant development of the mobile content / mobile application industry more recently. This is great appreciation of the country’s standing in this sphere, and it needs to be emphasised, that this is not something that has been achieved overnight.

"The ICT sector in this country has been developing tremendously in the last five/ six years. This has been demonstrated in the many related reports and indices that have been published in the recent past. Among these documents were: Global Competitiveness Index (68/144, 47%, SA-2, WEF); Doing Business Index (81/185, 43%, SA-1, WB); Networked Readiness Index (71/142, 50%, SA-2, WEF); Human Development Index (97/179, 54%, SA-1, UNDP);Corruption Perception Index (79/174, 45%, SA-2, TI) ;Ranked in the 30 leading out-sourcing locations and among the top nine in Asia Pacific – Gartner; and Ranked No 21 on A.T. Kearney’s Global Services Location Index (GSLI) 2011"

Emphasising the role of ICT in good Governance Reshan Dewapura said: "In Government, the critical information infrastructure eco system is in place, where all Government entities can easily move ahead, to re-engineer and simplify processes and automate their systems. Needless to say that the aim of all this is to provide a better service delivery to citizens".

Drawing his attention on the private sector ICTA CEO dwelled on the ICT platforms available for the private sector’s growth:."For the private sector, mature ICT platforms are available to use as great transformational tools, for the progression and growth of their industries and sectors. And for the ICT sector itself, the environment is conducive to maximise the opportunities in our country, as a global ICT destination.

"This industry is now a critical growth pillar in the country’s development effort. The IT BPO Industry has become the fifth largest foreign exchange earner in the country at USD 475m p.a. and has generated over 50,000 new jobs in the last six/seven years.

"Opportunities have been created to use ICT for the betterment of the masses, the rural communities, the disadvantaged and the under-privileged groups. Access to ICT for all through Nenasalas (wisdom outlets), enabling of local language computing, creation of local and localised applications, have bestowed untold benefits to all, specially the marginalised communities. The ICT literacy in the country has gone well above 40% from being around 4% a decade ago.

"These efforts have also gone a long way to spawn a local e-content creation industry in the country. This has now come to be recognised globally by international awards for innovative and impactful digital creations. The phenomenal penetration of the mobile phones in Sri Lanka (which is now over 100%) has brought out another dimension to this thriving developer community. This dimension is reflected in the production of pioneering mobile applications, giving rise to a booming mobile content eco-system in the country. As expected this has caught the eye of UNCTAD and has been highlighted in this report.

In a glowing tribute to companies like Etilalat, hSenid, Micro-image ICTA CEO stated:

"In this regard we must recognise and appreciate the efforts of organisations such as Etisalat, hSenid and Micro-image, through the Apps Zones and the application development platforms, provided the young developers with encouragement and support to bring out their skills and innovations".

Giving the audience an insight into the national ICT goals for the future, Dewapura said:

"Our next step, or future goal is becoming a ‘Knowledge Hub in the Region’, and ICT led transformation, will be the differentiator between success and failure in this mission. All the targets that have been set for the future, are geared towards achieving this goal.

"The journey in becoming a Knowledge Hub, is also about amassing a considerable amount of recognition, respect and prestige as a country, as an industry, especially among our global peers. That does not come easily. Being showcased and recognised in influential publications such as the UNCTAD Information Economy Report will contribute immensely to that endeavor.

"The Government of Sri Lanka has identified ICT as a vibrant growth sector, and has committed itself to the development of this industry. Many interventions in terms of policy, and many contributions in terms of resources, have been ploughed in by the Government to accelerate this effort".

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