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    Sri Lanka – The Island of Ingenuity

  • Sri Lanka - the Emerging IT hub of the Future

    Dubbed the Island of Ingenuity, Sri Lanka is firmly and rapidly establishing itself as a reliable ICT services provider in the region. Strengthened by a supportive policy landscape, developed infrastructure, and a skilled talent pool, the Sri Lankan ICT industry is celebrated worldwide for its innovative approach, agility, and creativity.

    The influx of computer and information services in Sri Lanka was 899 million USD in 2019 and it was the fourth-largest source of export revenue of the country. At the moment, Sri Lanka offers software products and services to North America, the EU, Australia, East Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and the Nordic region, among others. Sri Lanka’s ICT sector comprises over 300 companies spanning many industries such as communications, apparel and textiles, banking, financial services and insurance, healthcare, manufacturing, media, retail, transportation, travel and leisure (1).

    Mckinsey analysts find that, in comparison with other Asia Pacific emerging markets, Sri Lanka displays significant strengths in connectivity, digital marketing, investment in digital initiatives and the ability to move quickly (1). These very factors aid the Sri Lankan ICT industry to climb heights unreached by any other regional country, earning itself global recognition and trust. Today, Sri Lanka is a widely sought-after ICT service provider catering to the world with agility and innovation.

    Why Sri Lankan ICT services?

    A rapidly growing digital economy

    Sri Lanka’s ICT workforce is expanding. According to the last ICT-BPM survey conducted in 2018, the overall strength of the workforce has grown from 82,854 in 2014 to 124,873 in 2018, which amounts to a growth of 51% in five years. This means that there has been an annual growth of 11% in 2018. Assuming that the same growth rate continues, it was predicted that the total ICT-BPM workforce would be 170,000 by the end of 2021 (1). These numbers certainly mean good news for ICT service consumers. Equipped with a large number of professionals, the local ICT sector will be able to cater to the ever-rising demand for Sri Lankan ICT services.

    A quality workforce

    The size is not the only strength of the local ICT workforce. Quality is a determining factor that contributes to the acclaimed reputation of the Sri Lankan ICT sector. Thanks to the free education system that provides free education up to the tertiary level, the Sri Lankan workforce is armoured with both knowledge and skills. The quality of the workforce as indicated by qualifications and experience has significantly improved in recent years. For example, the share of employees with a Bachelor's degree or above has increased from 63% in 2013 to 85% in 2018. Bachelor’s degree has become the standard entry qualification for the majority of job categories and the highest share of graduates was reported from ICT companies (> 90%) (1). This means only one thing- that you will be able to get your job done easily, effectively, in minimum time and with the highest quality. That is what the island of ingenuity promises.

    Developed infrastructure

    ICT-related infrastructure is fairly developed in Sri Lanka even though it is still a developing country. Driven by the goal to emerge as an IT hub, Sri Lankan governments have been ameliorating IT-related infrastructure in the country and today, Sri Lanka is the first country in the region to introduce 3G/ 4G networks. In 2014, Colombo became the First 4 G-enabled City in South Asia. In addition, Sri Lanka is home to four dedicated IT parks offering state-of-the-art IT facilities. Orion City, Port City, and Trace Expert City currently function as highly capable IT parks and four other proposed technoparks are underway. Four potential cities (Galle, Kandy, Nuwara Eliya, and Kurunegala) have been identified as suitable for the proposed technoparks and these parks will include “ incubator facilities for the establishment of start-ups, collaborative activities, and programmes with uninterrupted power supply, telecommunication centres, administrative management offices, banking facilities, conference centres, recreational facilities, parking, and internal transportation.” (2)

    Favourable Taxation and Policies

    Sri Lanka is an oasis for those involved in the ICT sector. Supportive taxation and favourable policy landscapes make it profitable to be an ICT service provider and a consumer in Sri Lanka. Geared towards strengthening the local industry and attracting foreign clientele by enabling hassle-free service providing and consumption, the rules and regulations that the Sri Lankan ICT sector is governed by allow ample opportunities for both locals and foreigners to engage in profit-oriented business.

    For instance, in January 2021, information technology and enabling services were exempted from VAT (Value- added Tax) with effect from the 1st of January. The 2% Nation Building Tax that was previously applicable to all industries including telecommunication and internet has been removed since January 2021 (1). In July 2020, the Sri Lankan Cabinet of Ministers approved a memorandum on ‘Amending the procurement guidelines to support Domestic Industries’, thereby establishing a policy for the software and hardware industries. This was followed by the Public Finance circular No 03/2020 which provides guidelines for government entities in purchasing software, hardware, and composite solutions. Encouraging local and international firms to enter the domestic sector and boosting local start-ups were the main intentions behind this exercise (1).

    In addition to these, there are other steps (that are too many to mention here) taken to encourage the growth of the ICT sector.

    Increased legal and regulatory security

    Sri Lankan boasts an independent, transparent, and sophisticated legal and regulatory framework covering all prerequisite business law enactments, offering our business partners increased security and reliability. Safety of investments is guaranteed in the constitution of Sri Lanka and our country has also signed Investment Protection Agreements (IPAs) with 28 countries (2). All these measures work to offer security for our valued business partners. Protected by the all-encompassing and tightly-woven legal and regulatory frameworks of the country, they can rest assured knowing that there is no room for error and misdeeds.

    A Clear Vision for an Advanced Digital future

    The continuous growth of your business in Sri Lanka is guaranteed by the promising future of the Sri Lankan ICT sector. Planned and strategized by the visionaries in the industry, the ICT sector in Sri Lanka is on a clear path towards success and global expansion. At present, there are multiple projects and action plans currently being implemented and scheduled for the near future. Perhaps the most noteworthy of them is the National Policy Framework that outlines strategies and activities proposed to establish a Technology-Based Society (Smart Nation) in Sri Lanka. Among others, chapter 6 of the framework proposes to establish Sri Lanka as a Global Innovation Hub and to maximise the use of innovative measures in the Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), biotechnology, robotics, augmented reality, cloud computing, nanotechnology, and 3D printing (1). Secured and strengthened by all these, the future of the ICT industry in Sri Lanka surely looks greener for both service providers and consumers.

    Resilient in face of adversity

    One of the key reasons behind the success of the Sri Lankan ICT sector is its ability to stand resilient and strong in face of adversity. The work ethic and values followed by our ICT sector enable it to function steadily even amidst a global crisis. Industry participants attribute this highly desirable quality to the commitment of the workforce and effective systems that are in place and come to life in an event of a crisis (2). Sri Lanka is a country with a turbulent past, a past characterised by multiple crises that made the workforce of the country resilient in times of adversity. This gives the country a competitive advantage as a service provider. not only do we display remarkable work ethic and determination, but we also respond swiftly and effectively to unprecedented situations. We are solution-oriented, and our ICT service providers have demonstrated an unparalleled ability to function unaffected in face of adversity, delivering nothing less than what was promised, even during the Covid-19 pandemic.

    Source ICT Services from Sri Lanka >

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The Sri Lankan ICT sector serves a number of Industry verticals with over 300 companies at present. A highly skilled talent pool combined with the cost-effective operational ability makes Sri Lanka’s ICT Industry one of the most profitable industries to date.

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