Friday, 13 August 2004  
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Call to expedite measures to meet ICT demand in rural areas

By Sudarshana Perera

e-infrastructure development and telecom reforms should be expedited to meet the current and future demand of ICT in under-severed rural areas. Legislation and regulatory reforms, demand side and supply side subsidies have to be immediately implemented to build a robust ICT net work thoughtout the country said Prof. Rohan Samarajiva addressing the e-Society conference in Colombo.

Prof Samarajiva, a telecom expert said that five out of nine provinces are untouched by the fiber backbone capacity and satellite based technology should be used to give better access in rural areas in the absence of a fixed network.

"Satellite could be used in the absence of fiber and microwave to serve in areas such as the north and east. e-infrastructure would lead cost effective and flexible infrastructure for IT enabled software and other countries that can create employment opportunities and exports", he said.

He said that setting up transparent entry and legislation would attract more ICT investments in Sri Lanka. Demand side subsidies should also be given to create an advanced ICT network in rural areas.

" I am optimistic that that e-Sri Lanka initiative and telecom reforms would drive the Sri Lanka's ICT sector to open more business vistas. Sri Lanka has also experienced a massive surge of US $ 300 million investments during 2003 and 2004 and we are on a right footing and should forge ahead with the necessary reforms and subsidies ", he said.

The government also pledged to build an Information and Communication Technology (ICT) super highway throughout the country that would lead to create co-habitation among different ethnic and religious groups saying that it would abide by consistent ICT policy to empower the whole nation with ICT while making the entire administrative structure on-line.

It has also ventured to make some of the administrative processes paperless and the government would give proper leadership to take the dividends of ICT to grassroots level.

ICT experts point out that the relevant institutions should put more much weight to bring the entire country under one ICT mantle since ICT has not penetrated much in to rural areas.

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