(LANKAPUVATH | COLOMBO) – Mr. Kanaka Herath, State Minister of Technology, stated that the information technology industry has a critical role to play in significantly assisting socioeconomic growth and overcoming the current economic crisis that Sri Lanka is facing, and that the government has a clear plan for this.
The state minister mentionedthisat the “Lighting Digital” National Forum held at the Sri Lanka Foundation. He went on to say that implementing a digital transformation plan in the country is a critical task, and the steps taken, as well as the role played by The Information and Communication Technology Agency of Sri Lanka (ICTA) under the supervision of the Ministry of Technology, are commendable.
The government has focused its efforts on achieving a rapid and efficient digital transformation in the country. The program will support national capacity building in order to create the workforce required for the expected increase in GDP of USD 3.47 billion, or 4.37%.
There is currently a shortage of IT workers in the country’s public and private sectors. The “Lighting Digital” national rollout has been implemented to develop a workforce to meet that demand and to address this issue on an island-wide scale. The program, led by ICTA, aims to implement a digital transformation in the country and train personnel to improve the effectiveness and speed of existing IT services. For this, a specialized training pool of individuals inclusive of government officials, youth, women, professionals, teachers, and students areon boarded.
With the support of all pertinent stakeholders, overall implementation is launched under the theme; “A journey that enabled Digital Transformation.” The outcomes and experiences of the three-day stakeholder engagement forums held, which included participants ofthe three sectors, government, education, and citizen, were used as a lead-up to the Lighting Digital National Forum. This national forum’s goal was to create national standards, policies, and a feasibility framework.
Mr. Sameera Jayawardena, Deputy Chief Digital EconomyOfficer of ICTA stated that The Lighting Digital national initiative, hopes to empower 100,000 public sector employees with information technology, improve citizens’ digital well-being through swift change in digital education, and the IT sector, and empower the youth who strengthen and advance the IT industry. Further, He continued that a comprehensive program to advance the digital economy at the district level will be put into action parallel to this.
Launched in December 2021 to empower Sri Lankans’ lives with digital technology, this national initiative has benefited a large number of people across the island. For instance, the “NextGenGov” capacity building program, assisted to improvethe leadership and IT abilities of 3600 Government personnel. Moreover, 2000 women across the island were given a theoretical and practical understanding of digital marketing as part of the project “Suhuruliya.” Through “Youth Bootcamps”, 13,000 youth across the island weretrained for job opportunities in the IT sector, guided to gain membership in professional organizations and directed to higher education opportunities, the bootcamps also included training workshops for 700 teachers serving as instructors to increase the use of information technology in the educational sector.
A few other noteworthy actions taken by ICTA under this national rollout includes establishing 12 District Digital Transformation Committees with 560 committee members to lead the charge in empowering local communities through the use of digital technology, offering IT advice to school students and trainees in vocational training programs, training 170 career counselors, and hosting 25 sessions for 5000 freelancers to identify job opportunities in the field of IT.
Following this national forum, large scale online sessions and physicalactivationswill be held for the Sri Lankan communityplanning a successful future using digital technology.
ICTA is joining forces with 4 ICT industry associations, 15 industry partners, 10 government partners, 3 ecosystem partners, 3 international development agenciesandmore than 200 technical experts to ensure the success of this national rollout.
Approximately 200 individuals including, Additional Secretaries of the Ministry of Public Administration, Home Affairs, Provincial Councils and Local Government, Varuna Sri Dhanapala and K. G. Dharmathilaka, CSSL President DamithHettihewa, SLASSCOM Chairman Ashique Ali, BCS Sri Lanka Branch Secretary Professor Lasith Gunawardena, FITIS IT Industry Board Director N. Nirmalan, BCS Asia Regional Manager DeepashikaGunasekara, Social Services Department Additional Director Ms. DarshaneeKarunaratne, Education Ministry Information and Communication Technology Branch Director Ms. VasanaEdirisuriya, resource persons representing Government and private sector institutions, industry associations and international development agencies, Information and Communication Technology Agency officials, social activists, journalists joined the Lighting Digital National Forum.