Telecommunication, Foreign Employment and Sports Minister Harin Fernando - Pic by Chamila Karunaratne
- Policy to be unrolled after Budget, will transform manufacturing, tourism and agriculture assures Harin
Telecommunication, Foreign Employment and Sports Minister Harin Fernando yesterday confirmed that the much-awaited National Digital Economy Strategy will be implemented before the first half of the year.
“Sri Lanka signed up with McKenzie’s for a national digital transformation strategy and they have done a paper. We are hoping to roll it out in the middle of this year. After the Budget is passed, this will unfold,” the Minister told at Huawei Lanka ICT and Carrier Congress 2019 in Colombo yesterday.
The strategy was developed by popular global consulting firm McKenzie and Company, and the initiative is spearheaded by the Ministries of Digital Infrastructure, Telecommunication and Development Strategies and International Trade.
According to McKinsey, the proposed Digital Economy Strategy for Sri Lanka could uplift the country’s GDP by 1-3% in 2019. The strategy was originally expected to be ready by April 2018, but was pushed back for various reasons given the need to consult and coordinate with different Ministries and State agencies.
The strategy will enable Sri Lanka to scientifically identify appropriate opportunities for promoting Sri Lanka’s digital economy and the key enablers to promote the digital economy as well as initiate three flagship programs that would promote the new policy thrust.
This initiative will strategies the promotion of the digital economy through the lens of three economic development thrust sectors; namely, agriculture sector, tourism sector and the manufacturing sector. It is expected that each of the sectors identified above could develop at least one flagship program to support this initial stage of Sri Lanka’s Digital Economy Strategy.
“The digital economy will transform the manufacturing, tourism and the agriculture sector. As mapped out in the National Export Strategy (NES) by 2022 the country is expected to reach $5 billion revenue from the ICT industry,” the Minister added.
Fernando said the Government’s flagship program, Enterprise Sri Lanka, also provides loan facilities to young entrepreneurs, start-ups as qualified ICT companies to enable and support them to be part of country’s digital economic drive.
The Minister pointed out that Sri Lanka Telecom (SLT) has also embarked on a number of initiatives, which will be implemented on a fast tracked manner in the next couple of months.
Despite covering the entire country with ultra-fast fibre optic cable connectivity, Fernando claimed that the public sector officials are not capitalising on it to improve efficiency in administration work.
“Government has done the hard work in connecting the entire country with a huge highway underground with 100MBPS connectivity and if people don’t know how to use it, we are going to lose out. I hope the Government officials change their mind-sets and move in the digitalised economic direction, so that Sri Lanka can soon be a very IT savvy nation,” he said.
Noting that over 330 Divisional Secretariats are connected with ultra-fast fibre optic connectivity, Fernando urged the public sector to use those facilities to expedite delivery and also save expenditure.