The federation has lined up holistic and ambitious plans to transform the developing country in an Island of Ingenuity.
After the excitement of Sri Lanka’s parliamentary election, sleeves are being rolled up for some real progress and change.
On the all-important digitalization front vital for post-pandemic survival, the country’s apex body of the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector—the Federation of Information Technology Industry Sri Lanka (FITIS)—now has some influential new leaders on board.
Other members in the FITIS leadership
- Aruna Alwis — CEO
- Dr Kithisiri Manchanayake — Immediate Past Chairman
- Dr Prasad Samarasinghe — Senior Vice Chairman
- Prof Gihan Dias — Vice Chairman
- Tharmarajah Suresh — Advisory Chairman
- Handy Trushan — Communication chapter president
- Prasad Hettiarachchi — Software Chapter President
- Prabath Wickramarachchi — Hardware Chapter President
- Gnana Sellathurai — Hardware Chapter Vice President
- Fairooz Habeeb — Software Chapter Vice President
- Fazloon Sheriff — Office Automation Chapter President
- Sithira Wanniararchchi — ISACA President
- M Prashanthan — ISACA Vice President
- Jiffry Zuffer — Digital Services Chapter President
- Amila Bandra — Education and Training Chapter Vice President
The team is now led by Abbas Kamrudeen, a leading figure in the industry. Alongside him is an executive committee member of the Federation of Information Technology Industry Sri Lanka (APICTA), and a board Director of the Federation Chamber of Commerce and Industry Sri Lanka.
Speaking exclusively to CybersecAsia, Kamrudeen said: “On the political arena, as Sri Lanka has got a new Government, I would like to commend the effective utilization of technology during the lockdown period. Further, as an industry we request government support to help local software product companies to support them becoming global players and contributing towards the ICT export revenue target of USD$3 bn.”
Kamrudeen also mentions that, over the long term, implementation of a digital economy where effective use of technology within every element of the economy—be it public sector, private sector, exporters, small- to medium- sized enterprises or the general public—will result in a contribution of 7% growth to the country’s GDP over the next three years.
The key mandate, according to him, is to lead and drive digital transformation in Sri Lanka moving towards a digital economy and encouraging the private sector, public sector and citizens towards digitization.
Additionally, there will be mandates to help, develop and foster creation of intellectual property (IP) within Sri Lanka and assist companies in expansion to build global brands for IPs as a tool for economic growth and wealth creation. Further he believes current export revenue comes mainly from services, and with Sri Lanka being ranked as a developing nation, having its own IP will be a tremendous boost for the export market.
Digitalization in the spotlight
In the context of the digital transformation, FITIS has identified focal points in the upcoming years as the agenda. According to Kamrudeen, “Sri Lanka is far behind in embracing digital technology; be it in the private sector, public sector or as individual citizens.”
The activities that FITIS are looking to initiate this year are:
- Encouraging digital adoption within key industries by providing expert consultation to organizations that require support
- Creating a platform to recognize digital initiatives
- Increasing ICT literacy levels within all sections of the population
- Supporting and assisting in expediting e-government initiatives
- Working with government to boost digital payment adoption and internet penetration
- Providing digital advisory and consultancy for export companies by linking tech companies with exporters.
As part of creating a platform to recognize digital initiatives, FITIS will embark on a ‘Digital Transformation’ awards program to recognize companies and industries that embrace digital tools and systems in ways that fundamentally reshape their organization and the customer experience.
Industry networking drive
FITIS will also concurrently plan and negotiate with vendors common to the industry, to train and develop technology and business-related programs; actively engage and link new global tech companies with traditional IT vendors; develop special incentives for individuals within the member organizations; and organize membership drives and member networking and partnership creation events.
Further, as a benefit to the members and the industry, a member’s directory is scheduled to be launched for better opportunity and engagement.
FITIS is also of the opinion that the increased need of technology usage is an absolute requirement when viewing the current productivity challenges faced by the country. For example, the federation is currently pursuing better tax benefits for the industry where imports of ICT equipment can be at zero tax, which would help increase usage of ICT within the country’s urban and rural sectors. This would be a small step towards the goal of becoming a digital nation.
Island of Ingenuity
One challenge that FITIS foresees is managing policy with regard to the ever-changing digital platforms and services the country is exposed to.
The federation has pledged support to the respective government bodies to help formulate the effective policy frameworks that will be required for digital transformation.
In relation to the contribution to the national economy, the federation plans to assist software and service companies to increase export revenue to achieve the US$3bn target by 2025. Moreover, FITIS will also contribute towards boosting the current ICT workforce of 80 Thousand to 200,000 in the coming years. Human resource remains the single biggest limiting factor to the IT industry’s growth.
Kamrudeen concluded: “By working in collaboration with local government bodies as part of the national export strategy, we have built a brand ‘IOI’ (Island of Ingenuity). Further, with the Exports Development Board we have formed an IP taskforce to support and recognize our local software products to go international. This will be used to aggressively promote our own Sri Lankan ICT and knowledge services brand.”