Countries spanning the globe are dramatically accelerating digitalisation across ecosystems and value chains making rapid gains from embracing digital technologies. Sri Lanka’s apex ICT institution, the Information and Communication Technology Agency of Sri Lanka (ICTA), has during the year leveraged digitisation as a key enabler providing digital empowerment to all sections of society.
As a mandated industry partner, ICTA plays a vital role in supporting and helping the nation reach its 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and creating a paradigm shift in the ICT domain of the country implementing key ICT development projects focusing on poverty alleviation, socio-economic growth, education, health, ICT exports, job creation for youth and digital Infrastructure development.
According to the country’s ‘Road Map 2015-2020’ telecommunication and digital infrastructure have been identified as two key areas defining the nation’s future. Contributing to a digitally empowered nation, the Ministry has earmarked strategies to enhance the living standards and quality of life of all citizens.
Dr.Ajith Madurapperuma, Acting CEO, ICTA Sri Lanka noted, “Several flagship programmes have been launched by ICTA during the year and will continue in 2018 to provide digital inclusion for all Sri Lankans. Using information and knowledge as key transformative drivers ICTA projects offer digital tools to enhance governance and services and digitally empower citizens supporting growth and development opportunities for all.”
A national initiative to accelerate the eradication of poverty promoting rural development and economic opportunities, ICTA’s Smart Social Circle Programme has proven to be a game-changer. Developed by ICTA to empower citizens, the Smart Social Circle has created an island-wide network of knowledgeable, experienced and responsive citizens promoting their active partnership as digital facilitators to encourage the adoption of digital technologies including social media among communities helping them become digitally literate.
To-date, over 8,000 knowledge agents from 800 Grama Niladhari divisions are guiding citizens on user-friendly on-line Information and services on good governance, citizen journalism and disaster risk management etc.,
ICTA has implemented a multi-dimensional strategy bolstering education through the use of digital technologies. Partnering with the Ministry of Education, ICTA has enhanced the quality of teaching and learning by effectively adopting digital technologies. Classrooms have been transformed and benefitted through the introduction of SMART concepts and distribution of digital devices.
ICTA’s e-Health initiatives champion improving quality and efficiency in health care services provided by Sri Lankan government hospitals through digital technology. To-date 15 hospitals countrywide have successfully installed ICTA’s Hospital Health Information Management System with 35 more to be implemented by January 2018. Under this project, nearly 3 million Rupees is saved by each hospital, every month.
Delivering digital infrastructure development as an engine for growth ICTA has executed a series of E-Government initiatives promoting transparent and effective public services. The public now have easy access to electronic Birth, Marriage and Death Certificates in addition to real-time verification of Birth, Marriage and Death (BMD) information. Over-the-counter issuance of certificates from Divisional Secretariats across the country empower citizens further.
The digitization of local Land Registries through the Land Registry System is another critical ICTA project. All land registries and land records will be transformed to electronic formats ensuring convenient access. Currently six registries are completed and nine are ongoing with 30 to be initiated in 2018.
A host of government-to-citizen electronic services offered by ICTA developed through multiple channels facilitates citizens, businesses and a progressive nation. To-date 50 e-Services have been developed and are live including the e-Revenue license for Motor Vehicles, which can be accessed countrywide.
Unleashing the potential of ICTA’s programmes and projects, employment in the ICT sector is estimated to be 148,000 jobs to-date with over 225 tech startups in existence. Sri Lanka’s image as an offshoring destination gaining further impetus as recently the country was ranked 11th in the Global Services Location Index (ATKearney) and among the top six Primary Countries in Asia Pacific by Gartner.