Sunday, July 01, 2018

IT Changes Everything in Sri Lanka

I am scheduled to speak at the National IT Conference in Sri Lanka (NITC 2018), 2 to 4 October 2018, organized by the Computer Society of Sri Lanka (CSSL). The theme of the conference is: IT Changes Everything
To help me prepare a presentation, the conference organizers have provided some references as background, from which I have extracted some quotes:

Development of Sri Lanka’s digital economy strategy

"Work on the country’s digital economy strategy has begun with input from world-renowned consultancy firm McKinsey, the Prime Minister’s Policy Development Office said yesterday.  ..."
From:  "Work begins on Sri Lanka’s digital economy strategy with McKinsey input", Daily FT, 8 January 2018
 Sri Lanka’s Digital Economy Strategy

"... This initiative will strategize the promotion of the Digital Economy through the lens of three economic development thrust sectors, namely, agriculture sector, tourism sector and the manufacturing sector. It is expected that each of the sectors identified above will could develop at least one flagship programs to support this initial stage of Sri Lanka’s Digital Economy Strategy. ..."

From "Sri Lanka’s Digital Economy Strategy", Department of Government Information, Sri Lanka, 7 January 2018
 Sri Lanka Vision 2025
"The country needs to develop strategies that encourage the use of digital and other emergent technologies to become globally competitive and to drive the nation towards a digitally empowered economy. Enhanced digital ecosystems, through reduced transactions costs, will stimulate inclusive growth and job creation, especially by empowering the self-employed and SMEs.

...  Sri Lanka’s IT literacy rate was a meagre 27.5% in 2016, with only 15.1% of households with internet access. The technology service sector has long been dominated by ICT, and there is little focus on promoting disruptive innovation technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), data mining and other high-quality technological services. The economy needs a shift towards innovative, knowledge based business ventures.
  1. We will put in place a plan of action to encourage the transfer of appropriate foreign technologies into Sri Lanka. ...
  2. We will actively promote private sector investment in digital technology. Incentives to support emerging industries in robotics, cybernetics, and electronics will be provided. We will support development in advanced technology by encouraging education institutions to link up with the private sector. To improve market access for startups, we will facilitate the convergence of multiple technologies and integration with global startup networks. We will encourage the private sector to plan early for future workplaces, commerce, and manufacturing in the digital era. ...
  3. We will incentivise private sector investment in the ICT industry. ...
  4. We will integrate ICT literacy into school curricula. ...
  5. We will increase free Wi-Fi provision and increase incentives provided to widen internet access. ...
  6. We will continue the national digital identity initiative. ...
  7. We will increase digitalisation of Government operations. ...
  8. We will strengthen ICT based marketing interfaces. ...
  9. We will encourage innovations in mobile payment systems and peer-to-peer lending
    platforms with necessary oversight. ...
  10. We will strengthen Sri Lanka’s National Intellectual Property Office to manage
    registration exploitation, regulation and resolution more effectively. ...
  11. We will strengthen the legal framework for electronic transactions. ..."
From Chapter 9, Technology and Digitalization, "Vision 2025: A Country Enriched", Ministry of National Policies and Economic Affairs, Sri Lanka, 31 August 2017 (numbering of proposals added).


I was then asked to:
"1. Outline your topic and it's relevancy in-line of the overall theme of "IT changes everything"
2. How do we drive a digital economy? What should be the key measurements? Timelines?
3. What changes are needed at different levels of the society? E.g. how do you propose we change the current education system?
4. What are you looking forward to during you planned visit to Sri Lanka during early October for NITC?
5. Any other info you think which is important."


Framing the digital strategy for a nation is too much for one conference presentation. As an educator, I will naturally focus on education. The area I have been looking at in Australia and for the Asian region in my graduate studies has been vocational education. How do we bridge upper schooling, vocational colleges and university?

What are you looking forward to?
The easiest question to answer is "What are you looking forward to during you planned visit to Sri Lanka...". On my previous visit I enjoyed meeting people from the local IT industry and educational institutions. Highlights were a visit to a higher education institution which has connections to Australia and a IT company campus (where I gave a talk on emergency management using the Internet).

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