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### Pledging Digital Transformation for Poverty Alleviation and Educational Revamp

President Ranil Wickremesinghe emphasized Sri Lanka’s dedication to modernizing agriculture and underscored the country’s aspiration to diminish multi-dimensional poverty.

By 2035, Sri Lanka targets to cap multi-dimensional poverty at 10 percent. While achieving zero poverty is unprecedented, the President noted that even leading nations typically maintain a poverty rate of about 7 percent.

Delivering the keynote address at the Digital Public Infrastructure (DPI) Seminar at the Taj Samudra Hotel in Colombo, President Wickremesinghe highlighted the relevance of the seminar amidst Sri Lanka’s transition beyond economic stabilization.

Pointing out the successful stabilization of the economy and the ongoing discussions with international creditors, President Wickremesinghe delineated the Government’s agenda for economic transformation.

The seminar on Digital Public Infrastructure, jointly organized by the Indian High Commission in Colombo and Sri Lanka’s Technology Ministry, aimed to explore the transformative impact of DPI in enhancing service delivery, promoting inclusivity, and boosting the economy through innovation.

President Wickremesinghe also expressed his commitment to presenting the necessary legislation to Parliament by the middle of this year at the latest to facilitate the operations of the proposed agency. He stressed that this legislative and policy framework is vital for Sri Lanka to establish itself as a competitive economy, particularly with the Indian Ocean region emerging as a key area for growth.

Describing Sri Lanka’s economy as a “patchwork economy,” President Wickremesinghe emphasized the imperative of transitioning towards a more coherent digital economy.

Recognizing the significance of digitalization, President Wickremesinghe underscored the importance of discussions surrounding the digital public economy. He outlined plans to establish a new institutional framework to support this transition, moving away from existing structures like IT councils and focusing on establishing a Digital Transformation Agency and an AI center with a budget allocation of LKR 01 billion. This agency would be dedicated to fostering a robust digital economy, departing from past approaches that did not yield the desired results.

The President highlighted the necessity of strengthening the education system at both school and higher education levels to support this initiative. One key decision is to introduce Artificial Intelligence (AI) into schools within the next five years, with the aim of integrating it into every school within five to eight years, extending to universities as well.

President Wickremesinghe expressed appreciation to the Indian government for their assistance in advancing Sri Lanka’s digital economy, outlining plans to collaborate with Indian institutions and leverage their expertise, particularly in establishing a campus of the Chennai Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) and planning to launch three universities, two of which will focus on technology.

In conclusion, the President expressed optimism that the discussions at the workshop would significantly contribute to the nation’s development plans and programs.

Meanwhile, State Minister of Technology Kanaka Herath, speaking at the event, outlined Sri Lanka’s commitment to implementing the DIGIECON 2030 roadmap, focusing on enhancing networks and promoting Digital Financial Services (DFS) for financial inclusion.

He also mentioned the Government’s intention to implement DPI across all levels to promote a connected digital government and address challenges such as cyber-security.

Additionally, the State Minister announced plans for a global investment summit on June 25, providing a platform for tech VCs. He encouraged investors to embrace change and participate in the country’s digital evolution to explore investment opportunities in Sri Lanka’s growing tech ecosystem.

The event was attended by Foreign Minister Ali Sabry, Ports, Shipping, and Aviation Minister Nimal Siripala De Silva, State Minister of Technology Kanaka Herath, Indian High Commissioner Santosh Jha, Parliamentarians Harsha De Silva, Kavinda Jayawardena, Mayantha Dissanayake, Charitha Herath, and Mohamed Muzammil. Also present were Secretary to the Ministry of Technology Dr. Dharmasiri Kumaratunge and key stakeholders from India and Sri Lanka.