The Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) under its Mahinda Chinthana programme (Mahinda is President Rajapaksa’s first name) wants to make Sri Lanka a knowledge hub, but GoSL’s contribution to this thus far has been a mere US$ five million over a seven year period
Mano Sekaram, the immediate Chairman, Sri Lanka Association of Software and Service Companies (SLASSCOM) said that the Government spends heavily on promotional work for tea and tourism, but its investment in the ICT/BPO industry in comparison has been small.
He was speaking at the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce organized Sri Lanka Economic Forum that concluded on Tuesday.
The local industry has grown from a US$ 50 million one in 2004/05 to a US$ 400 million industry at the present. It’s now the country’s fifth largest foreign exchange earner. The industry provides employment to 60,000.
Reshan Dewapura, CEO Information and Communication Technology Agency of Sri Lanka (ICTA) said that it was important to brand Sri Lanka as a knowledge hub. ICTA, a GoSL organisation which functions under the President has been set-up to promote ICT in the country.
He said that thus far promotional work has been confined to UK and Europe. Their next port of call would be Australia.
Sekaram said that 80% of those serving in the ICT industry were from the rural area, that’s where the talent is, he said. The industry’s raw material is its people.
Dewapura said that the global ICT/BPO industry has been valued at US$ 1.5 trillion of which the offshoring market has been placed at US$ 500 billion. Currently only US$ 125 billion of that market has been serviced. Of this number, India has gobbled up between US$ 80-90 billion.
The industry is currently growing at 25% and if Sri Lanka captures just 0.5%-1% of that growth, it’s in line to hit the targeted US$ one billion goal by 2015, from the current US$ 400 million mark. The global ICT/BPO industry is expected to grow by US$ 175 billion in the next couple of years.
He further said that though it’s a costly business, it was important to be on the radar screen of international ICT consultancies.
SLASSCOM Chairman Dinesh Saparamadu said that 50% of IT companies were quality certified. The move is to get all such companies quality certified, he said.