How is Sri Lanka’s Digital economy strategy shaping up

The government of Sri Lanka is putting in place various strategies that are being worked upon by the Information and Communications Technology Agency (ICTA) with the guidance of the technology ministry and authorities.

In a keynote address by Mahinda B Herath, CEO, Information and Communication Technology Agency on ‘Sri Lanka as the Asian Digital Tiger – Key cloud & data centre trends’ at W.Media’s Digital Week South Asia edition, the spotlight was on how Sri Lanka has fared in their journey towards digital transformation.

“The national digital transformation strategy was drafted a few months back and after discussing with his excellency and the technology ministry it has been approved by the cabinet in November last year”, said Herath.

Various sets of plans have been incorporated in the national digital transformation strategy. Two main focus areas for the digital transformation of Sri Lanka focus on Digital government and Digital Economy.

 

Digital Government

 

All the government digital and government projects are to be done under the guidance of ICTA in order to make sure it’s in line with the national digital policy and the regulations of the government.

“The foundation of the of the strategy is the foundational infrastructure of the government created by the ICTA focusing on the Lanka Government Network, Lanka Government Cloud and National Data Exchange with SL-UDI framework”, said Herath

He further added that the Lanka government cloud and network are already in place.

The Lanka government network (LGN) has a second variant which is the LGN 2.0 is fiber driven and the largest wide area network in Sri Lanka. A third variant of the LGN 3.0 is also being worked upon which will focus on 4G, 5G and other technologies which will make it more efficient and flexible.

Lanka government cloud is also functioning even in this area there are plans of working on improved versions of it. LGC 2.0 will be the second version and a huge amount of expansion is going on in the Lanka government cloud for the utlisation of Sri Lanka’s unique digital identity framework.

“The digital identity framework will be the root at all governments’ applications that will come into play. The framework will provide unique digital Id and authentication services”, Herath added.

The national data exchange is meant for the exchange of data and identity. The national data exchange will have its interfaces published and all applications will be able to connect to national data exchange via API or interface via standards provided in order to be utilised for various applications the foundational infrastructure of the same is being developed and operated by the ICTA.

Further, few developments as a part of their digital transformation strategy certain developments will be made for the government to remotely manage email and collaboration, HRM and payroll, payment and document sharing.

Mobile Apps, Web Portals, Kiosks and APIs to expand the government architecture and can further be used by private organisations as well. Development in the areas of education, transportation, health, motor traffic and others are initiated by ICTA for various lines of business, pointed out Herath.

Some major projects of the Sri Lanka government include the Digital ID, court automation, upgrading and modernisation of the Lanka government network, e- motoring, driving license and others.

 

Digital Economy

 

The digital economy strategy has five main focus areas which include the development of the technology industry, startup nation, tech diffusion, capacity building and regional cluster development.

The focus is on the startup and innovation to be achieved by the year 2025.

For startups the government has provided various facilities where they could get their startup registered which includes incubation, amongst others. There are also plans of collaborating with the international startup community that will help the startups gain visibility in the market.

Further, there will also be a credit programme for startups wherein they could get credits from banks without aa physical collateral to develop the startup.

 

Tech adoption

 

Sri Lanka, is also looking forward to adapting technology in various areas to suit their requirements.

Giving an example for the same Herath underlined that the technology could be used for solving social issues and incorporate technology in the non- tech local industry like agriculture, tourism & hospitality, education, health and others.

Various other programmes are also being developed in collaboration with universities, industries and industry bodies to incorporate technology.

Capacity will be an area wherein there will be foundation programmes for students to enter the market, conversion programmes for non tech graduates, social education and professional training for its citizens to improve competency and employment opportunities.

Herath further underlined the importance of the regional cluster development which would consist of technology and educational clusters with all the required facilities for students.

These clusters will be close to the universities and the technological institute will be established within the clusters. There is a plan of building five such clusters, the initial work for two of them has already started.

ICAT has decided on a few milestones for the digital economy which include making the technology industry development a $3 billion industry by 2024 and have 700 tech companies and 1000 startups dollar industry, 700 tech companies and 1000 start ups and others.

The Digital policy & law focus areas will be on developing digital government policies for data security, retention and cyber security. Keeping the digital government safe by enabling a data protection ecosystem and supporting the digital economy by the effective use of the existing laws.

Anuradha Nagar

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