World Bank Group Managing Director Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala says that it is encouraging to note that projects initiated by the ICT Agency of Sri Lanka (ICTA) give a new lease of life to disaster-hit communities in Sri Lanka.
Dr. Okonjo-Iweala said so at the conclusion of a recent tour of the Eastern Province including the Nenasala (wisdom outlet) at Kallady, Batticaloa, one of the current total of 601 set up under the initiative of ICTA.
"Seeing these communities rebuild after facing tremendous difficulties is very encouraging," Dr. Okonjo-Iweala said, expressing happy amazement at the perseverance of the people in reaching the top even if it meant re-commencement from the scratch.
On this occasion Dr. Okonjo-Iweala also alluded to the e-Sri Lanka initiative which ICTA implements and under which come the Nenasalas with a monthly total of 70,000 users and 180 funded grassroots community-implemented innovative projects.
"The e-Sri Lanka project is important because it gives access to the entire population to become IT literate. This will be crucial if Sri Lanka is to expand industries like Business Process Outsourcing and become a knowledge hub."
Dr. Okonjo-Iweala guaranteed World Bank's further assistance to Sri Lanka to reach the goal of a middle-income economy: "I had an excellent visit to Sri Lanka, especially to the Eastern province. I witnessed the prudent use of information technology for local fishing industry, Nenasala IT centers, and some post tsunami resettlement and livelihood development projects in the area. These are some of the projects that Word Bank extended its support to and will continue to assist Sri Lanka in the transition to a middle-income country."
During her visit the obtained a firsthand knowledge of the services provided by the Nenasala where she also successfully tried out some of the IT applications available at the Nenasala. Dr. Okonjo-Iweala was highly taken up by the efficiency of IT applications put in place at the Nenasala for use by the people. Among these were the Government Information Centre (GIC), which can be reached on 1919, Happy Life (www.happylife.lk) and Fishing Lanka (www.fishinglanka.com).
By telephoning 1919 any time from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. any day using any phone, including the one at the Nenasala, the required information about services provided by any Government institution could be obtained.
The caller is able to present the question in Sinhala, Tamil or English or Tamil and obtain the required answer in the language of his choice in a courteous manner.
The main objective of 'Fishing Lanka' as explained to Dr. Okonjo-Iweala by its developer W.R.T.G. Nilaweera is to help the fishing community to target exact fishing area in the sea by receiving GPS information by SMS.
Dr. Nishanthan of the Family Planning Association (FPA) explained and demonstrated the 'HappyLife' www.happylife.lk , which provides information related to Reproductive Health, to Dr. Okonjo-Iweala.
Referring to the rapid growth in ICT in Sri Lanka particularly after the war, ICTA CEO Reshan Dewapura said that now that the curtailments that had existed during the war were no longer there, thanks to the determined and irresolute guidance of His Excellency the President, ICTA was able to set up 92 Nenasalas in the north and the east.
"The Nenasala at Kallady is an excellent example of the great beginning of the winning of the economic war. Under the e-Sri Lanka initiative ICTA is moving fast in contributing towards Sri Lanka reaching the target of becoming 75 per cent IT literate by 2016 and making Sri Lanka the Knowledge Hub and the Miracle of Asia," the ICTA CEO attested.