Internet Day 2021 for a thriving digital era | Sunday Observer

Internet Day 2021 for a thriving digital era

4 April, 2021

The digital service chapter of the Federation of Information Technology Industry in Sri Lanka (FITIS) will launch “Internet Day 2021” on April 6, leading the rays of light towards a thriving digital era of Sri Lanka.


At the press conference held recently with the participation of Jiffry Zulfer president of digital service sector, Abdas kamrudeen, chairman FITIS, Yasith Fernando programme manager, Aruna Alwis chief executive officer and Lathika Pai who virtually joined, Co-Chair for the event - Country Head and print and electronic media representatives Aruna Alwis, giving an overview of the FITIS, said that the Federation of the Information Technology Industry ( FITIS) which was established in 1996 functions as the apex body of the ICT sector in the country covering all major industry segments such as Hardware, Software, Training and Education, Communication, Professional and digital service chapters.

He added that it is the digital service chapter which has embarked on launching the biggest cyber platform for every citizen “The Internet Day” under the theme “Digital Inclusion”, in association with the Ministry of Technology and the State Ministry of Education Reforms, Open Universities and Distance Learning Promotion.

President of the Digital Services Chapter of FITIS Jiffry Zulfer said that the main objective of this Herculean task is to create a broad awareness of the use of the internet. Around 120 speakers excelled in different subjects from different countries will attend the conference.


Zulfer said that Sri Lanka should focus on levelling the playing field for equality and inclusion. “We are ahead compared to most of the countries in the region when it comes to our fundamentals and infrastructure. Everything now in place; all it needs is a change in our thinking. For that we need a change in policy and regulation which will then spur enterprise and investment which will then trickle down all the way to the bottom of the pyramid and bring prosperity to us all.”

According to Zulfer, 80 percent of the population of Sri Lanka (17 million ) are mobile phone users. The mobile connections as a percentage of the population is 145 percent (31 million). Internet usage has increased by 70 percent and 3.8 million access the internet through the smartphones with 10.9 million internet users in total.

There are 7.9 million active social media users in the country. About 92 percent of the population has internet coverage. We are ahead of most in the region, however, getting to 100 internet coverage is key. What is key is to educate on the value of the internet and how to use it properly. The next is activating government services through the internet.

Zulfer added, “Our local business also need to get into the level of understanding market trends and using it to their advantage. This would level the playing field. We are greatly encouraged that the digital sector of our economy now comes directly under the patronage of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa who has spelled out his vision for a technologically advanced Sri Lanka. We take the cue from the President’s vision to develop our island as a techno savvy nation. We are also happy to be associated with the country’s primary digital agency ICTA who have given their unconditional support to this event. “

Virtually joined the press conference, Co-Chair of the event Lathika Pai said, “Sri Lanka is at a critical inflexion point in digital adoption. It is important for public and private entities to come together to help accelerate this, which will result in compounded growth for the country’s economy.”

Internet Day

Referring to the values and importance of the “Internet Day”, Chairman FITIS Abbas Kamrudeen said that in the context of the digital transformation, FITIS has identified activities which would focus on digital transformation as a focal point on their agenda.

Sri Lanka is far behind in embracing digital technology in the private sector, public sector and citizens. The activities we are looking to initiate this year are, encouraging digital adoption within key industries by providing expert consultation to organisations that require support, creating a platform to recognise digital initiatives, increasing ICT literacy levels within all sections of the population, supporting and assisting in expediting E-government initiatives, working with the Government to increase smart phone and internet penetration and providing digital advisory and consultancy for export companies by linking tech companies with their exporters.

“As part of creating a platform to recognise digital initiatives, we will embark on a Digital Transformation awards, which recognise companies and industries that embrace digital tools and systems in ways that fundamentally reshape their organisation and the customer experience. The strategies are the key external activities planned for FITIS,” Kamrudeen said.

However, during the year, FITIS has planned to further enhance the member value proposition too, by way of developing an app to obtain ground level market intelligence. FITIS will also concurrently plan and negotiate with vendors common to the industry, train and develop technology and business-related programs, actively engage and link new global tech companies with traditional IT vendors, develop special incentives for persons within the member organisations and organise membership drives and member networking and partnership creation events.

As a benefit to the members and the industry, a member’s directory and privilege scheme is scheduled to be launched for better opportunity and engagement. He added that countries, such as Malaysia have 34.5 percent GDP contribution from the digital economy while Sri Lanka has between 5-6 percent GDP contribution.

Kamrudeen said that the digital economy can create an unprecedented productivity and efficiency for any country’s economy. Briefing us on the main key seven pillars of “Internet Day”, he added that connectivity, digital literacy, digital public services, digital entrepreneurs, digital products, digital entrepreneurship and digital enterprises will be covered during “Internet Day”.

Two-day event

Program Manager Yasitha Fernando giving an insightful explanation about the content of the two-day virtual event said that the program includes 40 virtual sessions in three languages with the participation of 120 speakers from various countries. The first track will run from 9.00 a.m. to 7.00 p.m. on April 6 and the second track will run from 9.00 a.m. to 6.30 p.m. on April 7.

During the sessions, the key subject areas such as Digital Vision, Digital Strategies, Digital Policies, Digital Payments, Digital ID, Digital Start-ups, Digital Growth, Investors, Digital SMEs, Digital Products for overseas markets, Digital Tax, Digital Communication, Cyber crimes, Data protection, Digital Education and Technology such as Cloud, Data and AL will be discussed. All the events will be addressed by industry experts, subject gurus and motivational speakers who will give valuable insights into how the groups can benefit from the internet and what digital inclusiveness can do for the country.

SLIIT contribution

Director Development and Engineering Services at SLIIT Uditha Gamage outlined the two major contributions by them during the two-day event. SLIIT is a private degree awarding institute established in Sri Lanka specialising in technology and management. During the two-day event, the SLIIT will conduct a workshop which covers the topics such as as Cyber crimes, Cyber security and data protection.

A new Sinhala editing package will be introduced to everyone involved in Sinhala editing. The main feature of the package is providing the reliable structures related to Sinhala Grammar, Sinhala sentence styles and syntax. Because this package is a free-open one, the users are allowed to develop the package on their own.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa who will be Chief Guest at the Internet Day will give the keynote speech at the event along with Ministers Ajith Nivard Cabraal and Susil Premajayantha who are also scheduled to speak.

Industry experts and prominent speakers will address the event which has ICTA , EDB, TRC and CSE as national partners, EY as knowledge partner, ALTX as Digital and Communications partner, Telecom partners Dialog and SLT Mobitel along with Platinum sponsors AWS and BOC, Gold Sponsors Dell-Singer, E-Wis, Lanka Pay, Tech Pacific and SLIT university also as sponsors.