Capitalise connectivity to fast-track growth - Hans Wijayasuriya | Sunday Observer

Capitalise connectivity to fast-track growth - Hans Wijayasuriya

16 September, 2018

Sri Lanka’s top business leader, Dr. Hans Wijayasuriya on Friday called on the Government to capitalise on Sri Lanka’s high telecommunication connectivity to bridge the current asymmetry between the rich and the poor and achieve faster economic growth. Addressing a high profile panel discussion at the Sri Lanka Economic Summit 2018, Wijayasuriya, the regional CEO for the South Asian Region of the Axiata Group Bhd., said that acceleration of the economy would be dependent on the availability of basic connectivity and also the availability and propensity of services, applications and automation which ride on this basic connectivity.

“We could be talking about smart agriculture, smart transportation, logistics and smart fisheries where relatively inexpensive technologies riding on the internet which has now been made available and affordable to nearly every citizen of our country could revolutionise productivity across multiple sectors of our economy,” Wijayasuriya who heads Asia’s second largest telecommunications company, noted. He further highlighted that that the fourth Industrial Revolution (IR 4.0) with the new technologies of cloud and multiple methodologies, is expected to help accelerate and equalise the progress of sectors with the end-user surplus being a multiplier of 10. “The end-user surplus, as computed by McKenzie was a factor of four in the case of basic connectivity. This means that every dollar you invest in basic connectivity including more people in the connected economy, the end-user surplus or economic access would be four times or four dollars to the economy. But, with the IR 4.0 it would be 10 dollars to the economy for every dollar put in,” he explained.

In the next phase, Wijayasuriya noted that attention should be given to the areas of commerce and financial services because money flows would eventually determine the inclusion which Sri Lanka can drive across multiple sectors.

“If our rural citizens cannot be paid, if SMEs in every corner of this country cannot receive electronic payments, the participation of our citizenry in the digital economy is limited to the 4 percent of credit card holders that you have today.

“Look at large countries like China and India where electronic payment has become mainstream. Someone traveling in China would know that if you don’t have a WeChat pay account, you can hardly survive in a marketplace,” explained Dr. Wijayasuriya.