$53 Million for Wiring Sri Lanka

Posted on September 23, 2004  /  5 Comments

From Lanka Business Online:

The World Bank late Tue approved US$ 53 mn to roll out the e-Sri Lanka project, which aims to bridge the digital divide in Sri Lanka.

Rolled out through the Information Communication Technologies Agency (ICTA) over a five-year period starting Nov., the project aims to improve public service delivery, increase private sector competitiveness, promote new sources of growth, accelerate social development, bridge the digital divide, and support peace.

ICT diffusion across the country will be the enabler for development throughout the key sectors of the economy.

The funds will come through the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank’s concessionary lending affiliate, with 40 years maturity and a ten-year grace period.

“This is an exciting program and we are delighted to be able to provide support for it,” says Peter Harrold, World Bank Country Director for Sri Lanka. “It supports the three key aims of our country strategy: it underpins peace by connecting the North and the South; it enhances the prospects for growth, not only in the IT sector itself, but also by raising productivity growth in other sectors; and it advances the cause of equity, by improving the access of the poor to a range of public services.”

… if you have any background on this deal please feel free to start a thread below. I believe Rohan mentioned that the World Bank traditionally doesn’t give money for infrastructure, but that something was negotiated.


  1. Only 60% of Sri Lanka’s 20m people have electricity, only18% can afford to use gas for cooking. What we really need is a system of cascading priorities. Clean water and proper road infrastructure spring to mind. Other than the business community and about 5m others, no one else will be able to use this E-services!

  2. To quote Michael Spence:

    “let me just say that the network based information technology we’re now seeing develop is in economic terms lowering transaction costs all over the place

    1. Creating millions of markets
    2. Decreasing geographic boundries
    3. Intergrating growing markets
    4. Increasing value of human capital (making more accessible)
    5. Changing relative prices and growth dynamics.

    It’s absolutely crucial that we not end up in a situation where those powerful forces are at play in one part of the world and not the other.”


    As a personal note, steady Internet access has exposed me to so much knowledge, and being able to hack away at stuff has given me skills that make me employable. I teach a Photoshop class and I see people who are just as bright as me, but they don’t have Internet access at home. I know they could make themselves employable if they had steady Internet, I know they could learn Photoshop and HTML and php and represent Sri Lanka on the Net. But they don’t. The next Bill Gates could be here, but we’re not giving him/her the chance.

  3. more than 2.5 millions telephones are now active in this country, by 1998 the number was some where around 0.5 telephones. the main thing is availability not so called affordability. ensure the infrastructure access to all will create opportunities. 600,000 residential cutomers are connected to natioanl water supply netowrk. Pepole in my village are waiting for service availability, they are ready for paying pipe water, who will supply?

    no loops are available in my village, 80 miles far from Colombo. they like INTERNET, some of homes has computers, no telephone lines. Some maxists think that vilages are only provided tanks, temple and paddy fields not today’s infrastructure.

    Today village stidents get thier results over WWW, they don’t wait for snail mail.

  4. I am sure the MBA from Texas is aware that in this fast changing structure of global wealth creation, access to high speed communication is playing a very important role.

    This is more so for countries like Sri Lanka where we have loads of highly skilled and trainable human resources that could become valuable assets generating substantial income. Think of a group of CIMA qualified youngsters in Trincomalee doing accounts online for a supermarket chain in Austin or wherever you live in Texas. [Bush is all for outsourcing, as you I am sure are aware coming from Texas].

    But we cant do this if Trincomalee is not connected, now can we? So, there we go. In this simple but potent example [no need to look far, just read up about whats going on in India] we have a strong case for the e-Sri Lanka backbone to connect Trincomalee to the global network, not on voice lines, but on extensive data networks, that are surprisingly affordable.

    Trincomalee may not have good roads or good running water, but it has many CIMA graduates with nothing much to do. Think about it. Should we wait for the roads and water to be done first?

  5. Sri Lanka is called by many names. One such name is the “Land of lost opportunities”. We have lost many opportunities to develop, especially the intellectual capital. Many rural Sri Lankans who are qualified and educated flock to Colombo or go overseas in search of better prospects. e-Sri Lanka initiative which was publisised and much talked about buy the former UNP government was aimed to bridge the digital divide and provide many yong and brilliant rural Sri Lankans to have access to modern technology and the modern world.

    It is true that there are other priorities such as water supply, electrification, health and road networks. But one can not expect all these basic infrastructure to be first put in place and then provide access to internet for rural folks. It is not practical. There are many Sri Lankans who have now found a way to prosperity through the Internet. A man from Mannar makes coir products and sell them to a buyer in Germany using e-mail and Internet as his main business tools. A farmer in Dambulla and a Business man in Negambo export vegitables and crabs to Europe and Singapore using e-mail as the main source of communication with the buyers.

    I am sure that there are many brilliant yong mindes waiting to be discovered in rural Sri Lanka. Lets give them a chance. Lets make e-Sri Lanka happen. Smart people in a Smart Island. Lets make this happen for Sri Lanka