Embracing Information Technology (IT) is no longer a choice but a necessity, President Ranil Wickremesinghe has said, emphasizing the paramount significance of digital transformation in securing Sri Lanka’s economic prosperity.

The Head of State made these remarks while addressing the National ICT Awards NBQSA 2023 held in Colombo on Wednesday (Oct. 25), the President’s Media Division (PMD) said in a press release. The event was organized by the British Computer Society, the Chartered Institute for IT – Sri Lanka Section.

Using this occasion to convey an essential message, President Wickremesinghe urged everyone to recognize the significance of the future.

The president emphasized that the future lies within the hands of each individual and their accomplishments are intrinsically tied to the nation’s prosperity. He expressed his good wishes for the path ahead, stating, “The future is in your hands and your success is the country’s success.”

Wickremesinghe also outlined a definitive vision for Sri Lanka’s future, marking a pivotal shift towards collective responsibility and progress. As the nation looks forward to the upcoming year, the president stressed the importance of united efforts, underlining that success is contingent on collaboration between the government and its citizens.

Reflecting on his earlier efforts as the Minister of Education to introduce IT in Sri Lanka, the president acknowledged the missed opportunities and economic setbacks resulting from underutilizing the global IT wave. However, he underlined that it is time to move beyond past failures, with the present representing Sri Lanka’s final opportunity to partake in the digital revolution.

Wickremesinghe has outlined a comprehensive vision for Sri Lanka’s digital future, centred on competitiveness, green transformation and digital transformation. He acknowledged that this journey is not devoid of challenges and necessitates not only favourable laws and regulations but also substantial investment in digital infrastructure and human capital development.

“In building a highly competitive and contemporary economy, I’ve highlighted two additional crucial components. First is the promotion of a green economy, leveraging our renewable energy resources and embracing the global trend towards sustainability, recognizing the on-going global ‘green transformation’.

“In the upcoming budget speech scheduled for next month, the initial phases of this reinvigorated economic vision will be delineated. Simultaneously, we will introduce legislation to facilitate this transition. It’s worth noting that our economic history witnessed a pivotal shift in 1977 when laws governing a state-controlled socialist economy were repealed, ushering in a market-oriented economic model.”

Wickremesinghe encouraged collaborative efforts between the private sector and the government to foster IT human capital across all levels, from postgraduates to skilled workers, recognizing that government initiatives alone may prove inadequate.

The president emphasized the need for a well-defined roadmap and adequate funding to materialize this digital transformation. He also noted the potential requirement for foreign investments to expedite the process, given the rapid pace of technological advancements.

He called on the ICT industry to accept the challenge, drawing parallels with the transformative journey undertaken by the apparel industry in the past. He expressed optimism regarding the industry’s potential and underscored the urgency of advancing Sri Lanka’s progression towards a digital future.