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Sri Lanka’s Digital Economy has reached 4.37% of GDP says ICTA and UNCTAD Digital Policy Paper

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The Information and Communication Technology Agency (ICTA) of Sri Lanka in collaboration with UNCTAD (United Nations Conference on Trade and Development) launched a Policy Paper on the Digital Economy of Sri Lanka at a virtual event held recently. The paper, titled ‘Digital Economy of Sri Lanka: National Goals and Lessons from the South’ will facilitate benchmarking Sri Lanka against the Digital Economy of the People’s Republic of China.

The Chief Guest at the event was Jayantha De Silva – Secretary of the Ministry of Technology while the Keynote Speaker was Dr. Tauhid Ahmed – Executive Director at the Institute for Development of Economics and Finance, Indonesia. Dr. Piergiuseppe Fortunato – Economic Affairs Officer of the UNCTAD delivered the Welcome Address and introduced the paper after which Chanuka Wattegama – Director Policy of the ICTA presented the details of the paper to the online audience.  The event was moderated by Sachindra Samararatne – Director of Startup Ecosystem Development of the ICTA.

Sri Lanka remains optimistic in the middle of its post-COVID-19 economic recovery, given its relatively developed digital landscape with more than 60% of the population owning mobile phones and a significant number accessing the Internet on a regular basis, said the paper. The Digital Economy in Sri Lanka, estimated to be USD 3.47 billion or 4.37% of GDP, is gradually emerging. Sri Lanka’s ICT/BPM workforce is supposed to reach 300,000 from 125,000 in 2018, which would then be supporting a USD 3 billion industry in 2024, from the current USD 1 billion.

Sri Lanka has identified ‘Building a Technology-based society’ a key national initiative in its National Policy Framework (NPF) “Vistas of Prosperity and Splendour” adopted in December 2019, which constitutes of 10 key policies aimed at achieving the fourfold outcome of a productive citizenry, a contented family, a disciplined and just society and a prosperous nation, the paper further said. Information and Communication Technology Agency (ICTA) of Sri Lanka, the apex ICT institution of the Government, was assigned the task of implementing the policy guidelines. ICTA’s scope relies on three pillars: Digital Government, Digital Economy, and Digital Society. The Digital Economy strategy is further subdivided into five key themes: Technology Industry Development; Startup Ecosystem Development; Technology Diffusion; Capacity Building; and, Regional Cluster Development. Digital Laws and Policies have been identified as enablers.

During his welcome address, Dr. Piergiuseppe Fortunato pointed out, “Sri Lanka has to take advantage of changes in the global economy. It is evident that the supply side and balance of power are changing, along with the demand side and it changes the ways of production and how they are being delivered. The global value chain is now more platform-oriented while big data is prominent and useful for value-added use. This policy framework can provide opportunities for Sri Lanka to facilitate access to big data and build capacity for big data. In order to make companies to use big data, different tools need to be enabled which are addressed in the paper. All of this is evident by what China has done until now.”

Presenting the paper, Mr. Chanuka Wattegama highlighted what lessons Sri Lanka could learn from the most advanced Digital Economy in the South – that of the People’s Republic of China. China’s Digital Economy is the direct result of the recent favourable policies followed by the Chinese government. They include policies in building network infrastructure, acceleration and deep integration of the Internet with the real economy, and enhancing information technology capabilities in all aspects. Digital transformation in China was also possible because of a comprehensive strategy that focused not only on the supply side but created the environment to expand digital infrastructure. Data was also recognized as a key resource for the development of the Digital Economy which was followed by the implementation of data governance policies.

Addressing the audience, Mr. Jayantha De Silva commented, “Successive governments in Sri Lanka have done a lot of work and had numerous plans to bring this country in line with the digital transformation. A key aim is to encourage more Foreign Direct Investment to Sri Lanka from Multi-National Companies, through the construction of “Techno Parks” with state of the art facilities, two of which are already under construction. Consequently, creating more job opportunities to incentivize the retention of trained youth as well.

The policy paper can now be viewed on the websites of UNCTAD (https://unctad.org/system/files/official-document/BRI-Project_RP15_en.pdf) and ICTA (https://www.icta.lk/summary-digital-economy-of-sri-lanka-national-goals-and-lessons-from-the-south/)

The Information and Communication Technology Agency (ICTA) of Sri Lanka are at the forefront of driving digital transformation in the Nation with a vision to make Sri Lanka a digitally inclusive country. ICTA strives to serve the Nation with effective Digital Solutions to transform the lives of Sri Lankan citizens. For more Information about ICTA, visit www.icta.lk.



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‘Rekindle Happiness with New Experiences’ this Season with Nations Trust Bank American Express

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The season of joy comes early for Nations Trust Bank American Express Cardmembers, with the ‘Rekindle Happiness with New Experiences’ campaign. Cardmembers will receive amazing benefits and savings from over 300 merchants island-wide, across all categories online and offline, all the way to 31st December 2021.

The time spent with loved ones during this season of togetherness and sharing will be a gift in itself. Nations Trust Bank American Express launched the seasonal campaign with the hope of bringing new life to the season of happiness and merriment. With the countless benefits and privileges, the campaign will allow loyal Cardmembers to celebrate this season in style with memories for the ages.

The offers for Cardmembers come from a wide range of categories including but not limited to Clothing, Gifting, Hampers, Dining, Hotel stays, Supermarkets, and Automobiles.  Niluka Gunatilake, Head of Cards at Nations Trust Bank stated, “It’s that time of the year when everybody looks forward to the year-end cheer and festivities. Particularly, after coming out of several lockdowns, we are all excited for the upcoming festive season. Nations Trust Bank American Express is delighted to present seasonal benefits and privileges for our Cardmembers to celebrate this season of giving, sharing and joy! They can look forward to a rewarding season with a plethora of offers as we partner with leading retail establishments, dining partners, hotels & resorts. We invite our Cardmembers make use of the benefits and privileges and have a wonderful season to rekindle happiness with new experiences.”

Nations Trust Bank American Express invites cardmembers to enjoy the festivities and find out more about the benefits and privileges offered this season by visiting www.americanexpress.lk. The Bank strongly advises Cardmembers to adhere to all health and safety guidelines issued by the Government whilst they enjoy their seasonal shopping, dining and lodging.

Nations Trust Bank PLC is among the top 15 business establishments in Sri Lanka as ranked by Business Today. Stemming from its vision of “helping people and businesses by providing financial services and information to achieve their goals and aspirations in a sustainable way”, the Bank serves a diverse range of customers across both individual and corporate, with an enviable portfolio of banking and financial products and services. Strongly focused on digital empowerment through cutting-edge digital banking technologies, the Bank is a pioneer in many innovative customer centric banking solutions such as extended banking hours, and FriMi – Sri Lanka’s first digital banking experience. Delivering premium value, service and connecting its Card Members to rewarding experiences and opportunities Nations Trust Bank PLC is an issuer and sole acquirer of American Express Cards in Sri Lanka. The Bank operates 96 branches across the country and has an ATM network covering 127 locations and 48 Cash Deposit & Withdrawal Machines, plus more than 3,700 ATMs on the Lanka Pay Network.

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Airtel’s network expansion to amplify island-wide 4G coverage

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Airtel Lanka, a subsidiary of international telecom giant Bharti Airtel Limited, recently revealed its plans to strategically expand its new 4G network across the island.

As such, over 400 new 4G sites are being commissioned across the country, which is in addition to the 2,000 plus 4G sites Airtel added during the launch of its 4G.

The new 4G sites are mapped out to ensure enhanced capacity in highly populated areas and coverage penetration into rural regions. Airtel’s 4G network is built on a triple layer network, which gives it a solid combination of coverage and capacity to deliver a superior experience with drastically improved indoor coverage with stronger signal penetration.

Having already completed over a third of the newly planned 4G sites, the finished sites are estimated to cover over an additional one million of the population. A prominent cause for the company to expedite its expansion drive was the two-fold increase in data usage since the pandemic brought along a new normal.

“I am certain that our rapid expansion strategy will directly benefit our consumers across the island, giving them a refreshed and enhanced network experience through our world-class 4G capabilities. Until adequate or even excess coverage is obtained, we will continue our 4G expansion drive, with every location also being 5G-ready to seamlessly accommodate the next generation of network when the time comes,” commented Airtel Lanka CEO/MD Ashish Chandra.

Through this drive, Airtel users will be given the opportunity to enjoy a network experience unlike ever before. As Airtel is also equipped with a refreshed prepaid and postpaid model with the recent launch of ‘Freedom Packs’, the launch of Airtel 4G is the telco’s single largest investment in Sri Lanka since its entry into the island in 2009. The purpose-built 4G network promises users a superior user experience including 99% buffer-free streaming, noticeably quicker loading times and improved indoor coverage with 4G signals that never fail.

From online learning to work-from-home to virtual socialising, every user from children to adults will be able to benefit from not having to face any more call drops, interruptions or coverage issues.

In addition to the company led expansion of amplifying coverage island wide, Airtel’s joint venture with the Telecommunication Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka’s (TRCSL) Gamata Sanniwedanaya aims to achieve 100% island wide coverage by 2022 by bridging the digital gap in rural districts with poor network coverage, by providing equal access to mobile connectivity for all Sri Lankans.

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HNB hails Sri Lanka Paralympic heroes as an inspiration to new generation of athletes

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(front row) HNB DGM –Retail & SME Banking, Sanjay Wijemanne (third from left), HNB MD/CEO, Jonathan Alles (fifth from left), HNB Chief Transformation Officer /DGM, L. Chiranthi Cooray (fifth from right) and HNB AGM and HNB Sports Club President Hisham Ally (second from right) with Paralympic Bronze medallist, Samitha Dulan Kodithuwakku (second from right) and Paralympic Gold medallist, Dinesh Herath (fourth from left) and National Paralympic Committee (NPC) of Sri Lanka Honorary President, Lieutenant Colonel Deepal Herath (fourth from right) together with the Sri Lankan Paralympic team, coaches and officials.

Sri Lanka’s very first Olympic Gold Medallist together with the Bronze medallist and participant delegation to the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, resonated a vibrant and inspirational example to new generation athletes and youth of the country, at a felicitation ceremony organized by the country’s leading private bank, HNB.

Recognising their outstanding performances – which included securing Gold and Bronze medals and establishing a new world record – HNB’s Sustainability Foundation presented plaques and cash rewards to the award winning athletes, coaches and officials who were part of the delegation.

The felicitation ceremony, held at HNB Towers, the Bank’s head office was attended by HNB Managing Director /CEO – Jonathan Alles, Chief Transformation Officer/DGM – L Chiranthi Cooray, Deputy General Manager –Retail & SME Banking – Sanjay Wijemanne and HNB Sports Club President/AGM Hisham Ally, as well as National Paralympic Committee (NPC) of Sri Lanka Honorary President, Lieutenant Colonel Deepal Herath and other officials.

“You have scaled mountains that others only dream of conquering,” HNB Managing Director/CEO, Jonathan Alles said, congratulating the members of the delegation. “We, at HNB draw inspiration from your achievements and hope that the country’s youth and new generation of athletes too will do the same. Sports can help develop qualities which are essential for organizations, particularly teamwork and the country will benefit from youth taking a greater interest in sports activities.”

The highlight of the event was the felicitation of Dinesh Herath – who won Gold in Men’s Javelin Throw F46 – and Samitha Dulan Kodithuwakku – the Bronze medallist in the Men’s Javelin Throw F64. Herath is also the first Sri Lankan to win an Olympic or Paralympic Gold and set a new world record in his event.

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