Business Times

One in 12 Lankans uses the Web

By Jagdish Hathiramani

Some 1.77 million or approximately one in 12 Sri Lankans use the Web (Internet), according to data compiled by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) in June 2010. This is up from 1.16 million or one in 20, the year before. However, Sri Lanka's 2010 Internet penetration of 8.3% appears far lagging the developing country average (21%) and the worldwide average (30%); it being much closer to the average Internet penetration of Africa (9.6%).

Additionally, as per 2008 data published in a 2009 ITU country report, just under 10% of Sri Lankan households own computers while a little more than 3% of Sri Lankan households were stated as having any sort of Internet access. It must be noted however that this same ITU report said Sri Lanka has a mobile phone penetration of close to 70% and mobile broadband penetration of around 6%, both proven conduits for basic Internet access.

At the same time, other avenues of progress in addressing this perceived Internet access shortfall have also been noted. According to local digital marketing expert Marsh Dodanwela, Senior Manager for Engagement Media at integrated marketing communications agency Arc Worldwide Sri Lanka; "While we know that Internet usage is predominantly prevalent in the Western and Southern Provinces.

Initiatives like the Nenasala centres of which there are 601 currently or the 257 Vidartha centres island-wide are attempting to bring the Internet and IT literacy to people all over the country. So, while we don't have all the stats, there does seem to be a genuine move towards a web-enabled society at every level." Social networking site has proven to attract the greatest increase in popularity amongst local Internet users.

While Facebook increased from 300 million to 500 million members within the last few months alone, Sri Lanka's membership alone skyrocketed from 500,000 (approximate) in March 2010 to 665,940 at the end of August 2010 and 719,420 at the end of October 2010, with the current membership now being equivalent to one in 30 locals.

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