By Shabiya Ali Ahlam
Sri Lanka’s Information and Communication Technology Agency (ICTA) recently gave fresh assurance that the necessary infrastructure would be in place within reasonable timelines, paving the way for the country’s economy to move to the next level of development via digitisation. As Sri Lanka is increasingly faced with global competition making it essential to embrace new developments, Muhunthan Canagey, ICTA Chief Executive Officer said all projects of the agency will reach completion within the set timeframe, providing ample room for all spheres of the government and the business community to align accordingly.
“We at ICTA believe that anything we start should end within 6 months, the roll-out could continue thereafter.
“All projects of the ICTA will have a timeline and we will stick to it. This will typically allow citizens to know where the government is heading, and the business could make the necessary changes to reap the benefits of such developments,” said Canagey while addressing a technical session at the 27th anniversary convention of the Association of Professional Bankers of Sri Lanka.
Painting a clear picture of the national ICT infrastructure plans, the chief outlined planned projects.
In an effort to drive a change in the telecommunication mind-set, he pointed out that ICTA is actively working towards bringing a digital infrastructure to reform telecom space by the second quarter of 2016 by ensuring fibre is reached island-wide.
Plans are also underway to establish about 10,000 Wi-Fi hotspots island-wide by 2Q2017 to provide free limited connections.
The agency aims to set up 550 government sites with 100 Mbps connections in the beginning of 2016, and a further 500 sites will be set up by Q1 2017. The effort is to ensure smooth cross government connectivity that will speed up processes.
Taking this initiative to another level, 4500 post offices spread across the country will be equipped with 100 Mbps connectivity to facilitate online the entire postal service range. While the move will push digital documentation, Canagey expressed confidence that the first area of digitisation could start at these touch points.
Around 500 post offices by 2016 will have digital scanners, to allow organisation to receive documents digitally rather than standard posts.
Furthermore, about 7,500 postmen will be given handheld units to allow services to be delivered at the doorstep for those who do not have own such devices.
To push these efforts the government is looking to triple the number of ICT professionals in the next 5 years, and double the number of experts in the next 36 months.
“It is essential this happens else we will not be able to implement our initiatives in a seamless manner. Everything is shifting to digital. Citizens are increasingly calling for digital inclusion and the government is making way for digital infrastructure. It is imperative the business community embrace the same to stay ahead,” Canagey professed.