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Wednesday, September 05, 2012 - 7.15 GMT
ICT, an important tool in building resilience – Secy to President

 

Information Communication Technology (ICT) can be used as an important tool in building resilience in Sri Lanka as the country is now enjoying full benefits of peace after suffering from terrorism for three decades, Secretary to the President Lalith Weeratunga said.

"Sri Lanka being a small country reviving after recently concluded war, there is a wealth of opportunity for ICT investments – which makes it all the more realistic to attain the goal of over USD 1 billion in revenue by 2016," the Secretary said addressing the Regional Expert Consultation on Connecting Asia- Pacific's Digital Society for Building Resilience in Colombo today.

Mr. Weeratunga said that while the developed economies in the rest of the world had been stagnating around 2.7% growth rate, as indicated by 2010 figures, we in developing countries in Asia- Pacific region had grown at a rate of 8.8% which is a remarkable feat.

"Protecting the poor and the vulnerable and ensuring that they too have access to opportunities should remain high on our agenda. We are all agreed that ICTs are tools that can be used effectively to empower people and help government to deliver their services effectively," he added.

The Secretary to the President said that governments and private industries must be encouraged to join hands in developing ICTs for inclusive and sustainable development.

The objective of the two-day consultation is to devise ways and review best practices in using ICT connectivity for the resilient development of the region. The consultation will focus on several aspects of regional connectivity, both in terms of infrastructure and the enabling legal environment.

Currently Sri Lanka holds the UNESCAP's ICT Committee chairmanship, Secretary to the President Lalith Weeratunga, having been unanimously re-elected to the position since his first election to the prestigious chair.


Introductory remarks by the Secretary to the President:


The Asia-Pacific region has been showing remarkable progress since recent years, emerging as the global economic growth driver. While the developed economies in the rest of the world had been stagnating around 2.7% growth rate, as indicated by 2010 figures, the developing countries in Asia-Pacific region had grown at a rate of 8.8%. This growth is also due to the result of the contribution made by the rural poor in these developing economies. Their contribution in turn has been greatly facilitated by the digital revolution that had empowered rural societies.

The objective of the Regional Expert Consultation is to devise ways and review best practices in using ICT connectivity for the resilient development of the region. The consultation will focus on several aspects of regional connectivity, both in terms of infrastructure and the enabling legal environment. There will be much information generated during today and tomorrow on how countries can contribute towards the collective efficiency of the region.

Among popular themes that will be discussed will no doubt be on broadband revolution and ICT innovations. According to my information, four out of five persons in the developing countries, particularly in rural societies, remain offline. Unfortunately, the digital divide is apparent precisely in the technology that is most potent in creating transformation, that is the mobile broadband internet.

The Asia Pacific region also has 950 million people living on less than $1.25 a day. Protecting the poor and the vulnerable and ensuring that they too have access to opportunities should remain high on our agenda. We are all agreed that ICTs are tools that can be used effectively to empower people and help government to deliver their service effectively. As declared by the United Nations Broadband Commission for Digital Development, broadband will represent a momentous economic and social change that will be a game changers in addressing a myriad of challenges – be it healthcare costs, education and social change.

Governments and private industries must be encouraged to join hands in developing ICTs for inclusive and sustainable development. An example is the story of how Korea has built a successful knowledge society for all on a public/private partnership. Korea’s 3G mobile network covers 99% of its population and 80% of its territory.

In the case of Sri Lanka, being a small country reviving after a recently concluded war, there is a wealth of opportunity for ICT investment - which makes it all the more realistic to attain the goal of over USD 1 billion in revenue by 2016. An example of this potential is highlighted in the Global Services Location Index – published by A T Kearney, and reputed as one of the world’s leading barometers on the relative attractiveness of countries as services locations. The indexing is based on the fundamentals of 3 categories: financial attractiveness, peoples’ skills and availability, and business environment. Sri Lanka is positioned at 21 out of 50 countries, which is considered a remarkable feat for a small country in the midst of giants such as China, India, Egypt and Mexico.

Sri Lanka’s Network Readiness Index (NRI) ranking published by the World Economic Forum has also improved from 86th position out of 122 in 2006/07 to 66th out of 138 in 2010/2011. Several e-Government initiatives have resulted in enhanced delivery of public services on-line, with overall 15,000 government officials having being trained and skilled in ICT. Also, 10,000 citizens have been trained under ICTA’s e-literacy project.

On ICT initiatives implemented locally, last Monday, the Government launched the eServices Project, facilitated by the ICTA, by introducing 22 e-services provided by 10 government agencies. This is only the initial steps taken by the e-services project to enable the public to obtain their services quickly and efficiently and in the comfort of their home or office. Of the 22 eServices launched thus far, 11 eServices are electronic payment based, and 11 are information/transaction based. Three information services are available through SMS also.


 

 
 
   
   
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