Sri Lanka Internet Day 2021: The Digital Age

The digital services chapter of the Federation of Information Technology Industry in Sri Lanka (FITIS) will launch their “Internet Day 2021” on 6th April. The two-day virtual event is held in association with the Ministry of Technology and the State Ministry of Education Reforms, Open Universities and Distance Learning Promotion.

This year’s theme for the event, „Digital Inclusion‟ is to acknowledge the country’s recognition of the need to prioritise its digital economy, to face future economic and social challenges. Apart from that, “digital inclusion” also intends to showcase citizen engagement in a digital society and its positive impacts in terms of access, affordability, and digital ability.

Jiffry Zulfer, President of the Digital Services Chapter of FITIS says that Sri Lanka should focus on leveling the playing field for equality and inclusion. “What we have to understand is that when it comes to most of the countries in the region, we are ahead when it comes to our fundamentals and infrastructure. Everything is now in place; all it needs is a change in our thinking. For that we need a change in policy and regulation which will then spur enterprise and investment which will then trickle down all the way to the bottom of the pyramid and bring prosperity to us all.”

Sri Lanka has a population of 21.4 million and 80% of the population (17 million) are mobile phone users. However, the mobile connections as a percentage of the population is 145% (31 million). Internet usage has increased by 70% and 3.8 million access the internet through their smartphones with 10.9 million internet users in total. There are 7.9 million active social media users in the country. 92% of the population has internet coverage. We are ahead of most in the region, however getting to 100 internet coverage is key. What is key is to educate on the value of the internet and how to use it properly. The next is activating government services through the internet.

“Our local businesses also need to get onto the level of understanding market trends and using it to their advantage. This would level the playing field. We are greatly encouraged that the digital sector of our economy now comes directly under the patronage of his excellency, the president, who has spelled out his vision for a technologically advanced Sri Lanka. We take the cue from President Gotabhaya Rajapaksa’s vision to develop our island as a techno savvy nation. We are also happy to be associated with the country’s primary digital agency ICTA, who have given their unconditional support to this event,” he adds.

Country Head, Venture Capital & Private Equity Partnerships at Microsoft India, Lathika Pai, who is Co-Chair of the event, commented, “Sri Lanka is at a critical inflexion point in digital adoption. It is important for public and private entities to come together to help accelerate this, which will result in compounded growth for the country’s economy.”

The two-day event will have 40 virtual sessions where some important topics will be addressed by leaders and experts of the public and private sectors. The sessions will cover a wide range of topics, focusing on small and medium scale businesses, social media interaction and major factors that drive community engagement. Topics in relation to future digitization will also be covered, such as digital vision, digital strategies, digital policies, digital payments, digital identification, digital start-ups, digital growth, investors, digital SMEs, digital products for overseas markets, digital tax, digital communication, digital education and technology such as cloud, data and AI and some sessions will be conducted in Sinhala and Tamil.

All events will be addressed by industry experts, subject gurus and motivational speakers who will give valuable insights to how the respective groups can benefit from the internet and what digital inclusivity can do for the entire country.

President Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, who will be Chief Guest at the Internet Day is scheduled to give the keynote speech at the event along with Ministers Ajith Nivard Cabraal and Susil Premajayantha who are also scheduled to speak.  Several industry experts and prominent speakers will address the event which has ICTA, EDB, TRC and CSE as national partners, EYas knowledge partner, ALTX as Digital and Communications partner, Telecom partners Dialog and SLTMobitel along with Platinum sponsors AWS and BOC, Gold Sponsors Dell-Singer, E-Wis, Lanka Pay, Tech Pacific and SLIIT University also as sponsors.