Sri Lanka missed the opportunity to place the country as a destination for digital innovation with Google Loon project in Sri Lanka, as the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka (TRCSL) failed to provide the required spectrum for the project, a top Minister lamented.
“We wanted to do a pilot for Google Loon project, and they did the pilot. It was successful. However, the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka (TRCSL) didn’t give them the licence or the required spectrum,” the Minister of Telecommunication, Foreign Employment and Sports, Harin Fernando told a forum last Thursday organised by Institute of Policy Strides in Colombo.
He pointed out that if the pilot project was able to continue, Sri Lanka would have attracted the attention of the world while getting island wide 4G coverage. Fernando identified the lack of understating of technology among older generations including policymakers as a key barrier to move forward with the digitalisation initiatives of the government.
“When you talk about technology, its only the younger generation which understand it, but the older generation think it’s something strange and wrong and it is going to corrupt everything. That’s the mindset that we want to change,” he stressed.
The Minister noted that several projects including the smart classroom project where the government had proposed distribute tabs for Advanced Level students has been slowed down due to misunderstandings of the technology.
Fernando called for greater public support to drive the digitalisation of the economy.
However, he expects that the digitalisation of the economy including the State sector will be fast tracked with the implementation of the Digital Economy Strategy which secured the Cabinet approval recently. The global management consulting company, McKinsey & Company received a Rs. 4 billion contract from the government to develop a digital road map for Sri Lanka with greater engagement of Sri Lanka’s private sector. The implementation of the strategy is scheduled to commence within next two months. (NF)