Business Times

Quick approvals, better infrastructure urged as SL grows

Need for policy interventions, quick approvals (of projects) and an improved in infrastructure is how global IT firm Intel sees Sri Lanka progressing ahead.“There is nothing now that can stop (tremendous) growth in Sri Lanka,” noted Sivakumar Ramamurthy, Managing Director, Sales and Marketing Group, Intel South Asia, in a recent conversation with a group of Sri Lankan journalists in Colombo.

But he noted; “This is an opportunity that would last only for the next three to five years. So you need to go for it and fast.” Sharing some thoughts on Sri Lanka’s progress in the past few years until now (also at the end of the war), Mr Ramamurthy said Sri Lanka has ‘no burden of underdevelopment (unlike most countries that struggled through conflicts)’.

When he first visited here in 2006, he found the country had an enormous potential to grow but people and officials were helpless (with a sense of despondency) and not knowing what was going to happen (next). “There was a kind of uncertainty.”

Intel however saw an opportunity in education and launched a programme with the Ministry of Education which has reached 20% of the 100,000 teachers due to receive training in IT education. Sri Lanka, he said (communicating his thoughts on society and the new development phase), has a lot of depth in civil society, the financial markets and the social environment.

“Everything is there, everything is in shape. These are tremendous assets to take to a new level of development.” Asked about the trade-off (financial return) for Intel in spending enormous sums on training Sri Lanka teachers and providing some 350 schools with computer labs, he said the benefits are not on the short term.

“There’s nothing on the short term. It’s all long term when people start using computers, our business grows. When industry grows, we grow,” he added.

Asked to comment on whether Sri Lanka has the technological capacity (in training, learning, etc) when the country grows to the next level, he said, “You may need (maybe) three to four Moratuwa University-type institutions.” The Moratuwa University is considered Sri Lanka’s most-technologically savvy university and the closest the country can get to boast of an IT-linked university.

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