"The Information and Communication Technology Agency of Sri Lanka (ICTA) aims at organizing e-Asia 2009 successfully" , ICTA's Chairman Professor P. W. Epasinghe said at a special kick-off meeting attended by local and foreign personnel from the media and other sectors held at the Ceylon Continental Hotel, Colombo for announcing the choice of Sri Lanka to host e-Asia 2009 recently.
e-Asia 2009, Asia's biggest international ICT exhibition and conference on the use of information and communication technology for development, the fourth in the e-Asia series, will be held in Colombo from 2 to 4 December at BMICH as disclosed at the meeting.
Emphasizing the significance of Sri Lanka's choice to host the biggest ICT event of the region Additional Secretary Dr. I.H.K. Mahanama said: "Sri Lanka has been chosen as the venue for e-Asia 2009 after extensive observations by the e-Asia organizers".
While e-Asia 2006 was held in Thailand and e-Asia 2007 and 2008 in Malaysia, the Philippines and Sri Lanka had submitted their applications for the role this time.
ICTA's Chief Operating Officer Reshan Dewapura said that the President's commitment to IT and Sri Lanka's success in ICT contributed to its selection to host e-Asia 2009. Elaborating on the significance of Sri Lanka hosting the event Dewapura said that 'e-Asia 2009' would be an ideal opportunity for Sri Lanka to demonstrate its suitability for foreign investment. "It is an opportunity to show the world that Sri Lanka is for technology and conferences on an international level", Dewapura added.
"During historic times, Sri Lanka was renowned as a centre for knowledge, and e-Asia will also help to re-establish the past glory. In the last few years we have made great strides in ICT. While Sri Lanka's ICT literacy was 4% in 2002 it is now 30%. Its Networked Readiness Index has improved from 53% in 2005 to 72% in 2009 while its IT-BPO status has improved from the 29th position in 2008 to the 16th position this year," he pointed out.
Co-chairman of the Organizing Committee and ICTA Board Director, Earle Fernando pointed out that this would be the most important ICT conference and exhibition held in Sri Lanka. Asserting that the time was ripe for showcasing Sri Lanka for more investment including as a peaceful venue for international conferences Fernando declared "Sri Lanka has arrived!"
He recalled that none other than Bill Gates had said that Sri Lanka was poised for great success because there was tremendous commitment and faith in Sri Lanka in the power of IT for dramatically improving people's lives. Deputy General Manager Centre for Science, Development and Media Studies(CSDMS), India, Dipanjan Banerjee said that e-Asia, had graduated from a regional to an international event both in terms of participation and audience. The scope had widened beyond the four original areas of e-Government, education, e-health and telecentres. He commended the great strides Sri Lanka had made especially in Telecentres with 587 Nenasalas set up island-wide: "We have observed Sri Lanka's progress in the areas where we believe ICT can make a great difference with the total support from the Government and the ICTA".
"e-Asia will help Sri Lanka enter the global arena in the ICT sphere through the intellectual exposure the conference inevitably brings to the host country". He added.
Answering questions from the audience Banerjee as a person with experience of previous programmes e-Asia said that e-Asia 2009 was expected to bring together about 1500 delegates from more than 45 countries from the Asian region and beyond. It will focus on creating a unique platform for discussion and sharing of knowledge about the latest trends and developments in the ICT sphere. "The speakers and attendees will include policy makers, senior Government officials, industry leaders, international development agencies, civil society, academia and investors", Banerjee added.
Spanning over three days (2-4 December 2009) the event will comprise unique thematically interrelated conferences, namely - egov Asia, eHealth Asia, Digital Learning Asia and Asian Telecentre Forum. Any further details please log on to (www.e-asia.org).