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President Wickremesinghe Highlights Focus on Digital Integration and Investment at ‘DigiEcon’ 2024 Conference

June 26, Colombo (LNW): President Ranil Wickremesinghe emphasized the government’s special focus on integrating economic and technical sectors through advancements in computer and information technology. He highlighted the vision to transform Colombo Port City into a financial zone facilitating offshore activities and attracting investments in Sri Lanka, with a strong emphasis on enterprise development and digital technology utilization by both local and foreign investors.

President Wickremesinghe made these remarks during the opening of the 2024 ‘DigiEcon’ Global Investment Conference, which commenced today (25) at the Cinnamon Grand Hotel, Colombo. The conference, themed ‘Harnessing Sri Lanka’s Untapped Potential,’ aims to showcase the country’s investment opportunities.

He stated that Sri Lanka needs digital cooperation with India and China, who are giants in the field. “We are situated between two giants in this sector, China and India, covering both hardware and software. We need to utilize that knowledge and cooperate with these countries,” he said.

The President also outlined the government’s plans to build national infrastructure under the Science and Technology Development Act, which established the National Science and Technology Commission and the National Science Foundation. “We are now introducing new laws to supplement it. Firstly, we will create a Chief Technological Officer, who will be the chief technological advisor to the government of Sri Lanka. Then, we will establish the Technology and Innovation Council, which will fund commercializing research.”

He mentioned that the government will support pure and applied sciences through the National Science Foundation. “We aim to create a system for commercializing research. All government funding for pure and applied research will go through the National Science Foundation, which will set priorities and monitor performance,” he explained.

The President added that the government is establishing the Digital Transformation Agency. “Initially focused on computer and information technology, we are now integrating economic and technological aspects. The final new institution we are introducing is the National AI Centre.”

He further stated that Sri Lanka must establish the infrastructure for high-tech cities. “We are looking at one in the outskirts of Colombo, which should have at least 100 acres or more. Smaller areas like Jaffna and others could have their own cities, with about 25 to 50 acres, depending on the available land. One major high-tech city will be in Colombo, and if possible, another in Kandy.”

Following the opening session, a panel discussion took place, featuring Chief of Presidential Staff and Senior Advisor to the President on National Security Sagala Ratnayaka, Minister of State for Technology Kanaka Herath, and Minister of State for Investment Promotion Dilum Amunugama.

Additionally, President Wickremesinghe met with the Global CEO of IFS, Mr. Mark Moffat, in conjunction with the conference.

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