Distinguished Ladies and Gentleman,
The DEMOCRATIC SOCIALIST REPUBLIC OF SRI LANKA is an island in the Indian Ocean with 21 million population maintaining over 7.5 % annual GDP growth rate for over 5 years. Sri Lanka has been a member of the UN for a very long time and a member of the ITU since the very inception. We are committed to the principles of the United Nation organization and also cherish and uphold the principles of the ITU. We have made a considerable stride in the IT sector for the last decade and as a matter of fact the world renowned space fiction writer and the distinguished scientist late Sir Arthur C. Clarke who predicted the geo stationary satellite was an honorary citizen of Sri Lanka, lived and died in Sri Lanka and we cherish his memories.
Sri Lanka is one of the first countries in the region to liberalize the telecommunication sector and has been able to achieve approximately 117% penetration of mobile and fixed telephones. We are the first country in South Asia to offer 3G and 4G services. According to ITU report on Measuring the Information Society 2012 Sri Lanka has achieved a milestone in broadband where we have been placed as number one in the world for the lowest entry level fixed broadband charges. The Mobile operators are providing broadband services and has introduced LTE services. The major stumbling block has been the low penetration of smart phones in the country. Under the Government strategy “unstoppable Sri Lanka 2020” we hope to achieve broadband for all. We have also engaged in a very aggressive IPv6 network readiness plan for all network providers. We have adopted a Next Generation Network regulatory and policy framework which is currently being implemented.
The government has made great strides in the ICT sector. The Government has recognized ICT and broadband as a driver and catalyst for economic growth and has taken many initiatives to boost ICT to fuel the local industry. Another major objective of the Government is to elevate Sri Lanka to the level of a knowledge hub in the Asian region, the foundation of which is ICT and broadband connectivity. Under the e-Government initiative we managed to jump 41 positions within two years and to reach 74th place in UN e-government index 2014. More importantly we are ranked 1st in the South Asian region under the same index.
Sri Lanka has been able to record a positive growth in key areas of ICT over recent years.
During this period, the country’s IT literacy rate has grown steadily, stimulating the development of ICT. This upward trend in ICT development in Sri Lanka is a clear indicator affirming the success of the plans and strategies adopted by the Government of Sri Lanka evidence by the telecenter manager winning an award for Rural Nenasala (knowledge hub) at the recently concluded global telecenter awards.
Sri Lanka hosted a very successful GSR in the year 2012 and has actively participated in ITU activities. We hope to continue this trend by involving ourselves in the council during the 150 year celebrations and we urge the member countries to consider our candidature to the council favourably.
I would like to thank the host country Republic of South Korea for hosting this event and for the excellent facilities and also like to congratulate Hon Assistant Minister Wonki Min Chairman PP 14. I would also like to express our deep gratitude to our dear friend Dr. Hamadoun Toure, the outgoing secretary General for the support extended during his tenure. Finally we thank the ITU membership for their continued support.