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Sunday, 6 December 2009





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e-Asia 2009:

Sri Lanka’s ICT industry shows potential to the world

Students, teachers and parents at the e-Asia 2009 exhibition Pic: Vipula Amarasinghe

Sri Lanka turned a new chapter in the field of Information Technology last Wednesday by conducting Asia’s premier ICT event, `e-Asia 2009’ at the BMICH.

The three-day exhibition was declared open by President Mahinda Rajapaksa. Science and Technology Minister Prof. Tissa Vitharana and Information and Communication Technology Agency of Sri Lanka (ICTA), Chairman Prof. P.W. Epasinghe were also present. ICTA was an organiser of the event.

Over 200 IT experts from the Asian Region attended the event. The representatives from the Asian region also presented a special award to President Rajapaksa in recognition of his service to uplift the ICT industry in Sri Lanka.

The main objective of holding the `e-Asia 2009’ conference and exhibition in Sri Lanka was to give an opportunity for Sri Lanka’s ICT industry to showcase its potential to the world.

Meanwhile, it is reported that two World Summit Awards were won for the best e-content by the Government Information Centre Programme popularly known as `1919’ and the `Impaired Aid’ program initiated by the ICTA. They were adjudged the best in their categories out of 20,000 entries submitted by 157 countries.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, President Rajapaksa highlighted that Information and Communication Technology is the driving force for development in a country and said that benefits of any development activity in IT should go to the ordinary masses.

He said the Government is in the process of formulating the next phase of the ICT Master Plan which will pave the way for the rural masses to receive the fruits of ICT development in the country.

He further said the country’s Network Readiness Index has increased from 53 to 72 within three years and the IT literacy level has also gone up from four per cent in 2004 to 30 per cent.

President Rajapaksa also said the Government’s aim is to increase the country’s IT literacy from 30 per cent to 60 per cent by 2012.

The President also stressed that children should be protected from the dangers in cyber space and appealed to all Asian leaders to take necessary precautions in this regard.

A large number of schoolchildren and their parents who were present at the BMICH to witness the event applauded to the remarks made by the President that the Government has made tremendous efforts to promote IT education by establishing over 600 ‘Nenasela’ centres in villages and also IT laboratories in schools.

The schoolchildren also welcomed the announcement made by that the Government will bring both Information and Communication Technology and English language to the villages for the benefit of children in rural schools.

Speaking on the exhibition, ICTA, Chief Operating Officer, Reshan Dewapura said `e-Asia 2009’ has garnered tremendous interest both locally and internationally.

He said the three-day exhibition provided the local ICT industry an opportunity to display its strength in the field of Information Technology.

“Today, Sri Lanka is a country of peace and political stability. That and the geographical centrality of Sri Lanka with many countries including the SAARC members positioned around make Sri Lanka the natural business hub of the region,” he said.

ICT Chief at the BMICH `Nenasela’ Badulla stall, K.P. Kandeeban told the Sunday Observer that the `Nenasela’ program was commenced by the Presidential Secretariat in 2005 with the objective of providing a knowledge of Information Technology and English education to the youth in the country.

He said over 600 ‘Nenasela’ centres are in the country at present and many more centres will be opened in remote areas within the next two years for the benefit of educated rural youth who do not have a sound knowledge of IT and English.

He said over the last four years, over 100,000 youth obtained knowledge of IT and English through the ‘Nenasela’ centres countrywide . Scholarships were also provided for children from underprivileged schools to improve their knowledge of IT.

“Steps have been taken to conduct extra classes on IT and English for the benefit of children in needy schools through the ‘Nenasela’ programme,” he said.

Representatives from five ‘Nenasela’ centres including those in Badulla, Bandarawela and Trincomalee displayed their exhibits at the exhibition. Many regional stall holders were also present.

eWIS Group, Chairman/CEO Sanjeewa Wickramanayake said as a responsible corporate citizen, his group serves almost all segments in the ICT sector and it is in a position to spread its vision across the market, across categories.

He also said that empowering the rural communities with the provision of ICT facilities, with the motive of eliminating domestic brain drain from rural to urban areas has been a major focus over the past years.

“The year 2010 will be a very special year for us since we will be seeking, more opportunities in the ICT industry,” he said.

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