The Sri Lankan IT industry needs 100,000 to 150,000 workforce and is expected to reach US $ one billion in next two to three years. This growth would provide a significant boost to the Sri Lankan economy, Information and Communication Technology Agency Sri Lanka, Chief Operating Officer Reshan Dewapura said. The ICT industry has progressed significantly in the past five years. Over 40,000 jobs have been created and the size of the industry has grown to reach US $ 275 million.
It is the fifth largest and the BPO industry is the fourth largest foreign exchange revenue earner in the country. Sri Lanka is ranked 16 in the BPO Location Attractive Index with expectations to go up further in near future, he said.
Sri Lanka has the capability and capacity to a developed ICT industry by addressing the lack of a resource pool in the field. It is prioritized and being addressed at present to expand skill levels and to scale up.
It is an important step to have introduced mainstream ICT curricular into the school system to produce IT professionals.
The government has recognized ICT as a key enabler and the ICT industry as a key growth industry. The ICT outreach has been widened by the 640 Nenasala outlets (Wisdom outlets) set up islandwide especially in rural areas. This goes a long way to serve people in these areas, he said.
There is an improvement in youth accessing ICT and the drawback to promote this among people was the language barrier. However, there is a remarkable improvement with the introduction of local language accessibility to computers.
The government is committed to increase the IT literacy rate up to 50 percent within the next few years. Many awareness programs to promote ICT industry as a career path are being carried out. The industry offers wider and varied professional career opportunities with good prospects.
Awesome progress has been made in the projects under the E-Government services.
The phase one of the Lanka Government Network project which connects all provinces, districts and divisional secretariets is completed with plans to complete the phase two this year. The digitalization of birth, marriage and death certificates has made public life easy. The Lanka Gate project, a set of infrastructure that has a platform to host services is in the process of implementing a number of Government services.
The e-transaction service where online motor vehicle revenue licences could be paid is an available facility.
One of the key components of the E- Sri Lanka program is human resource development. For this capacity building has been carried out and 15,000 Government officers has been trained.
Steps have been taken to build key components of ICT to promote Sri Lanka as a knowledge hub in the region.
Plans are under way to position the country as a skilled and professional service provider facilitating a niche hub status in financial and legal services, software and IT outsourcing, he said.