The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors Thursday (30) approved $500 million in financing for Sri Lanka to provide safe, climate-resilient roads to connect agricultural supply chains through the Inclusive Connectivity and Development Project. This project is expected to benefit around 16 million people living in rural communities in selected districts of Sri Lanka.
In Sri Lanka, roads carry around 95 percent of passengers and 98 percent of cargo. While nearly all national roads are paved, only 67 percent of provincial roads, and 13 percent of rural roads are in good condition. Sri Lanka also has the highest rate of road fatalities in South Asia with around 3,000 deaths per year. An uninterrupted road network is crucial to link rural communities to health and education services and other economic opportunities, and to connect small-holder farmers to domestic and international markets.
“Improving access to basic services and economic opportunities in rural areas, and reducing regional disparities in economic development, is critical for promoting inclusion and opportunities for all,” said Faris Hadad-Zervos, Country Director of the World Bank for Maldives, Nepal, and Sri Lanka. “The project will also create many short-term employment opportunities, which will help advance the post-pandemic recovery.”
This project is part of the development program to improve 100,000 km of rural roads, a key initiative under the Government’s national development strategy.
“The project will help develop green and climate-resilient transport and agricultural logistics, and mainstream climate resilience practices in infrastructure planning and investments for a more resilient future for Sri Lanka,” said Winnie Wang, World Bank Task Team Leader of the Project.
The project will build on the ongoing provincial and rural roads rehabilitation initiatives under the World Bank- financed Transport Connectivity and Asset Management Project and the Asian Development Bank-funded Integrated Road Investment Programs – iRoad I and II.
This project will be implemented by the Ministry of Highways and a National Steering Committee will be established to oversee the project.
The $500 million loan is provided by the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD). The variable spread loan has a final maturity of 28 years including a grace period of 10 years.
New Anthoney’s Group in 100pct acquisition of Gold Coin Feed Mills Lanka
New Anthoney’s Farms (Private) Ltd, a leading producer in Sri Lanka’s poultry sector with a distinctive reputation for quality and innovation, recently bought 100pct stake in Gold Coin Feed Mills (Lanka) Ltd from Gold Coin Management Holdings Pte Ltd and Glen Arbor Holdings (Singapore) Pte Ltd, both of whom are subsidiaries of Aboitiz Equity Ventures Inc (“AEV”). With this acquisition Gold Coin Feed Mills (Lanka) will now be Anthoney’s Feed Ltd, making New Anthoney’s Group an integrated poultry player with end-to-end supply chain capabilities in Sri Lanka.
With this acquisition New Anthoney’s is now able to control and manage the entire manufacturing process end to end, enabling it to further enhance the quality delivered to its customers and improve production efficiencies. New Anthoney’s is also among the top exporters of poultry products in Sri Lanka and this acquisition directly fits in with the company’s overall objective of accelerating the export growth further, earning valuable foreign exchange to the country.
The acquisition was completed following an official signing between the two companies during mid- December. Nithya Partners acted as legal advisor to New Anthoney’s whilst Mr. Saminda Weerasinghe, CFA acted as financial advisor to the buyer. TWCorp (Pvt) Ltd was exclusive financial advisor to the seller whilst Julius & Creasy acted as legal advisors to the seller.
Emil Stanley, the Chairman of New Anthoney’s Group, commenting on this, said ‘‘This is a historic moment for New Anthoney’s. I am confident that the acquisition of the animal feed business from Aboitiz Group will help us to grow our business exponentially and will help us to achieve our vision of becoming a reputed brand in the global poultry market. I would like to extend our sincere thanks to Aboitiz Group for the trust placed on us and to TWCorp for facilitating this transaction.’’.
‘This was a timely decision considering the many factors at hand and the acquisition will strengthen our position in the feed sector enabling us to provide an uninterrupted supply of poultry and also cater to the increasing demand both locally and internationally,’ said Neil Suraweera, CEO and Executive Director.
The foundation of New Anthoney’s is the farmer who ensures the nation receives the right proteins. As a result, the country’s more significant population depends on animal producers regardless of its size inside the country. It is because of them producers like New Anthoney’s can conduct environmentally friendly business practices nationally.
New Anthoney’s supports the transformation of animal production systems, both small-scale and large-scale, in ways that are sustainable from an economic, social, and environmental perspective to increase livestock’s contribution to the supply-demand chain.
The sellers, Gold Coin Management Holdings Pte Ltd and Glen Arbor Holdings (Singapore) Pte Ltd are both subsidiaries of AEV), and form part of the Aboitiz group’s integrated agribusiness and food and nutrition businesses (“Aboitiz Food Group”). The exit comes as part of the Aboitiz Food Group taking a strategic decision to focus on its core markets and exit non-core markets such as Sri Lanka.
Established in 1986, New Anthoney’s today is growing from strength to strength with a steady expansion of its product portfolio and success in the international markets. Its animal welfare complies with that of the National Chicken Council (NCC) in the US, with certifications including GMP, HACCP, ISO 22000, local and international halal accreditation.
General availability of Azure OpenAI Service expands access to large, advanced AI models
Large language models are quickly becoming an essential platform for people to innovate, apply AI to solve big problems, and imagine what is possible. As part of a continued commitment to democratizing AI, and the ongoing partnership with OpenAI, Microsoft announced the general availability of Azure OpenAI Service.
With Azure OpenAI Service now generally available, more businesses can apply for access to the most advanced AI models in the world—including GPT-3.5, Codex, and DALL•E 2—backed by the trusted enterprise-grade capabilities and AI-optimized infrastructure of Microsoft Azure, to create cutting-edge applications. Customers will also be able to access ChatGPT—a fine-tuned version of GPT-3.5 that has been trained and runs inference on Azure AI infrastructure—through Azure OpenAI Service soon.
Empowering customers to achieve more
Microsoft debuted Azure OpenAI Service in November 2021 to enable customers to tap into the power of large-scale generative AI models with the enterprise promises that customers have come to expect from Azure cloud and computing infrastructure—security, reliability, compliance, data privacy, and built-in Responsible AI capabilities.
Since then, the company has seen the breadth of how Azure OpenAI Service has enabled customers—from generating content that helps better match shoppers with the right purchases to summarizing customer service tickets, thereby freeing up time for employees to focus on more critical tasks.
Customers of all sizes across industries are using Azure OpenAI Service to improve experiences for end-users, and streamline operational efficiencies internally. From startups to multinational corporations, organizations small and large are applying the capabilities of Azure OpenAI Service to advanced use cases such as customer support, customization, and gaining insights from data using search, data extraction, and classification.
Azure—the best place to build AI workloads
The general availability of Azure OpenAI Service is not only an important milestone for Microsoft customers but also for Azure.
Azure OpenAI Service provides businesses and developers with high-performance AI models at production scale with industry-leading uptime. This is the same production service that Microsoft uses to power its own products, including GitHub Copilot, an AI pair programmer that helps developers write better code, Power BI, which leverages GPT-3-powered natural language to automatically generate formulae and expressions, and the recently-announced Microsoft Designer, which helps creators build stunning content with natural language prompts.
All of this innovation shares a common thread: Azure’s purpose-built, AI-optimized infrastructure. Azure is also the core computing power behind OpenAI API’s family of models for research advancement and developer production.
Azure is currently the only global public cloud that offers AI supercomputers with massive scale-up and scale-out capabilities. With a unique architecture design that combines leading GPU and networking solutions, Azure delivers best-in-class performance and scale for the most compute-intensive AI training and inference workloads. It’s the reason the world’s leading AI companies including OpenAI, Meta, Hugging Face, and others—continue to choose Azure to advance their AI innovation. Azure currently ranks in the top 15 of the TOP500 supercomputers worldwide and is the highest-ranked global cloud services provider today. Azure continues to be the cloud and compute power that propels large-scale AI advancements across the globe.
A responsible approach to AI
As an industry leader, Microsoft recognizes that any innovation in AI must be done responsibly. This becomes even more important with powerful, new technologies like generative models. Microsoft has taken an iterative approach to large models, working closely with partner OpenAI and customers to carefully assess use cases, learn, and address potential risks.
Additionally, the company has implemented its own guardrails for Azure OpenAI Service that align with Responsible AI principles. As part of Microsoft’s Limited Access Framework, developers are required to apply for access, describing their intended use case or application before they are given access to the service. Content filters uniquely designed to catch abusive, hateful, and offensive content constantly monitor the input provided to the service as well as the generated content. In the event of a confirmed policy violation, Microsoft may ask the developer to take immediate action to prevent further abuse.
Jaffna International Trade Fair in March 2023
The 13th Edition of this mega trade fair will be held in the heart of Jaffna on the 3rd, 4th & 5th of March 2023 at the Muttraweli Grounds, adjoining the Jaffna Fort. The event is organized by Lanka Exhibition & Conference Services (Pvt) Ltd (LECS), in association with the Chamber of Commerce & Industries of Yarlpanam (CCIY).Since the first edition in 2002 JITF has evolved into an annual trade platform. The exhibition makes it possible for stall holders to reach a large portion of the market in Jaffna. Both consumers and businesses based in Jaffna and in the North, visit the exhibition over the three days and typically thousands of visitors from diverse demographics visit the exhibition. The location of the event next to the Jaffna fort, makes for maximum visibility for those participating as stall holders.
The Jaffna International Trade Fair, which is known as the “gateway to the North” is the most anticipated platform for Small and Medium Entrepreneurs to introduce their products to the population of the North. The organizers of the event noted that Entrepreneurs who have participated in the past, experienced first-hand the potential the North has to offer.
The exhibition will also feature major corporates in the country representing various industries. The Main Sponsor for this year’s event will be Tokyo Cement Company (Lanka) PLC. Ruhunu Foods is the Official Spice Partner for the event. The official Snack Partner at the event is Ceylon Biscuits Limited (Munchee). Official Hygeine & Illumination Partner is Sun Match Company (Pvt) Ltd. Official Education Partner is the Northern Institute of Technology (Pvt) Ltd. Official T-shirt Partner is EXPRESS Factory Outlet and the Official Tire Partner is Adams Tyre Industries (Pvt) Ltd.
The event is a multi-trade affair featuring industries, products and services in the Agriculture, Hospitality, Education, Food, Machinery, Construction, Consumer, Electronics, Power, Textile, IT and Real estate sectors.
The events long-standing education pavilion “Kalvi” will also feature many higher education institutions at the event in 2023. This pavilion gives students and the youth of Jaffna an opportunity to engage with education institutes from around the country.
JITF is a major event in the MIECE events calendar of Sri Lanka. The three-day exhibition provides a major boost to the Hospitality Industry and economy in Jaffna, due to the large number of exhibitors and visitors who will travel to the region during the event. With many of the Hotels seeing high levels of occupancy. Restaurants and local traders also see a boost in sales over the three-day period.
The organizers invite all those interested to join the exhibition to experience and engage with the vast market in Jaffna and the North of Sri Lanka. For more information visit www.jitf.lk or contact Ms. Imalka on 077-1093792.
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