Telecommunication and Digital Infrastructure Minister Harin Fernando with Chinese Ambassador to Sri Lanka Yi Xianliang at the Broadband Forum. Picture by Thushara Fernando
Sri Lankan government is pursuing ambitious programme to enhance digital infrastructure by facilitating the enhancement of the digital eco-system, Telecommunication and Digital Infrastructure Minister Harin Fernando said.
He was speaking at the Second Broadband forum organized by the Ministry of Telecommunication and Infrastructure in collaboration with global leader in ICT Solutions, Huawei, in Colombo.
Noting that digital infrastructure sharing would reduce civil work of telecom operators and avoid duplication of infrastructure, the Minister said that the Ministry of Telecommunication and Digital Infrastructure is currently in the process of forming an infrastructure sharing company to enable digitization and to realise set targets of the telecommunication sector.
The company is to be brought under the Telecommunication and Digital Infrastructure Ministry.
“Sri Lankan mobile penetration has risen from 96% in 2012 to 126% in 2017. Also, Sri Lanka has witnessed significant growth in mobile broadband penetration over the past five years, with market penetration increasing from 8% from 2012 to 21% in 2017.”
The Minister further added that the internet has transformed nearly every sector of society including education, employment, commerce, etc.
“However, more than 60% of the global population still remains offline. If nothing is done to remove deterrents, more than four billion may be left behind as the pace of change in the knowledge economy continues to accelerate.”
Furthermore, the development of ICT technologies and increased spread of broadband infrastructure have become the core of economic competencies.
“In a bid to boost broadband penetration, 10% telecommunications levy imposed on data was removed in September 2017.”
Furthermore, in an effort to develop the digitization initiatives in Sri Lanka, a roadmap for the period 2015-2020 was launched to improve the digital infrastructure facilitating the enhancement of digital eco-system.
This would also include enhancing ICT policies, regulations, standards, the use of ICT applications in key sectors, citizen engagement and participation in ICT enabled societies, facilitating ICT industry development, trade and business sector activities.
Meanwhile, founding Chair of LIRNEasia, Professor Rohan Samarajeewa, speaking at the event, stressed that Sri Lanka needs to form a new ICT legislation to create a modern regulatory environment.
“Sri Lanka is working under a 26-year law.”
Prof. Samarajeewa further added that the Sri Lankan government needs to reform the telecommunication sector and existing laws while restoring the credibility and independence of the regulator.