Reaffirming the government's commitment to building a digitalized modern Sri Lanka, president Ranil Wickremesinghe said that digital inclusion is necessary to bridge the digital divide between the rich and the poor.
Given the present economic crisis and limited government resources, president Wickremesinghe said that the private sector should take over the basic digital infrastructure with the government stepping in where it is not feasible for the private sector to do so.
The president made these remarks while participating at the '2023 National Information Technology Conference (NITC-2023)', co-organized by the Ministry of Technology and the Computer Society of Sri Lanka.
Aligning with his vision of transforming Sri Lanka into a fully digital economy by 2030, a comprehensive “Digital Roadmap and Policy Framework for Sri Lanka,” developed by experts and scholars from six sectors within the IT field was presented to the president by the state minister of technology Kanaka Herath.
Minister of agriculture Mahinda Amaraweera presented the “Enhanced Digital Agriculture Transformation” report, a collaborative effort of agricultural and technology experts from the ministry of agriculture and the ministry of technology, aimed at modernizing Sri Lanka’s agriculture.
Addressing the event, National Security Advisor and Chief of Staff to the President, Sagala Ratnayaka said;
“The President is spearheading a modernization initiative, appointing a committee led by a prominent professor with a pre-established roadmap.
This modernization effort will operate on a decentralized basis, utilizing agrarian service centres as key focal points.
It will bring together the private sector, scientists, government officials and, crucially, farmers. The primary goals are to provide farmers with advice, input materials and training, with the aim of doubling current productivity. For instance, the Agriculture Minister plans to raise paddy productivity from 3.5 to 7 metric tons per hectare.
The Inclusive Digital Agri-Transformation (IDAT) program will introduce a digital platform for sharing agricultural data to support decision-makers in agriculture, land, irrigation, plantation and fisheries sectors. This program aligns with the President’s agri-sector modernization initiative, involving multiple ministries, including Agriculture, Irrigation, Tourism, Lands, Fisheries, Plantations, Public Administration and Technology.
The strategy encompasses the creation of a robust data and decision management system, incorporating AI and GPS-based decision-making.
It also includes the introduction of agri-data tech pilots to showcase early solutions and bolster the agri-tech incubation ecosystem.
All of these efforts are aimed at enhancing technology access and capacity building for government departments.
The strategy roadmap is in development and a data-driven decision-making dashboard is being created to eventually deliver services to farmers,” NSA Ratnayaka added.
Meanwhile, state minister of technology Kanaka Herath observed that since the launch of 'DIGIECON 2030' in March, the ministry has achieved substantial progress, covering more than 70% of the six thematic areas outlined in DIGIECON’s initiatives.
Speaking further he said;
"The Digital Economy 2030 roadmap and framework for Sri Lanka were presented to the Parliament Consultative Committee and are now open for public input.
Our next step is to seek Cabinet approval. Today, we’re delighted to announce that we’ll present this strategic document to the President.
Our digital roadmap and policy framework, developed in collaboration with the industry and with support from the World Bank, is founded on six thematic pillars.
Recently, the President inaugurated the Kandy campus of SLIIT, where students showcased remarkable innovation projects.
These projects featured AI-driven solutions and innovative applications of machine learning, particularly in the agricultural sector.
This demonstrates the abundant talent in Sri Lanka’s IT industry, which can be harnessed to develop the country’s services and enhance our international service exports.
Lastly, we extend our gratitude to the Melinda and Bill Gates Foundation for their initial three-year support.”