BUILDING A DIGITAL ECONOMY IN SRI LANKA
Posted on September 3rd, 2021

BY EDWARD THEOPHILUS

Mr. Namal Rajapaksa recently expressed that he intends to build a digital economy in Sri Lanka. It is an astonishing challenge and the task will attract enormous resources and time. It is not a simple task in the way the Minister assumes because Sri Lanka has no resources to build a digital economy. A digital economy relates to information and data. Each cent of earning and expenditure should be digitally recorded if the economy becomes a digital economy. It might be a recording system like in heaven or hell. Sri Lanka converting to heaven or hell is the nature of a building digital economy that is hard and gigantic work. As we imagine in heaven or hell, there are no manual records and they contain records of each person not only in this world but also in the entire universe. The other notable character is when a person does a good thing, quickly records it in heaven and hell. In this way, recording information is a role and expectation in a digital economy.  

When critically look at the intention of Mr. Namal Rajapaksa, it can be assumed that Mr.Rajapaksa wants to convert Sri Lanka to heaven or hell. This means he wants to maintain recording information of the economy like in heaven or hell. The other vital aspect of a digital economy is treating information technology as a major sector of inter-industrial analysis and the current aggregate economy of Sri Lanka has divided into sectors like agriculture, industry, construction, and services. In the current recording system of the aggregate economy, the digital areas are components of other major areas and how can they separate a digital area is to be a massive task. When broadly think about the role or a task, it is impossible and it might be a dream.

A digital economy is a broader concept that encompasses every activity of the economy that would be related to modern digital management and it would support the decision-making process. Mr.Namal Rajapaksa supports modernization and if we think about the development history of Japan, many reasons that contributed to Japanese development have been modernization that supports innovation and making profits and advantages from all economic activities. When hearing the view of Mr. Rajapaksa, it is my question whether people of Sri Lanka understand the wish of the minister. About 70% of contributors to the economy of Sri Lanka do not understand digital operation and management. They engage in activities for living that contribute to add value to the economy.

Mr.Nimal Rajapakshe is an adolescent minister in the cabinet with enthusiasm and willingness to contribute to the modernization and he also needs more marks to be the future leader of Sri Lanka as people will judge him considering the contribution made to the economy and society. The disguise intention of Mr.Rajapaksa is to generate efficiency in the economy and it is a good intention. The concept of digitalization of operation in the economy came to policy-makers several decades ago and few areas have been digitalised and the operational efficiency of those areas is a question because the operational efficiency seems to be much lower than an assumption. The concept of digitalization demands investments for technological changes and application, and the capacity for adapting such an investment process in Sri Lanka is bounded and affected by spending capacity in all sectors of the economy.  

As we understand, it is an unachievable task within the period of the current government and the major reason behind the important task is the lack of resources and knowledge which many consider as human and non-human apparatus associated with building a digital economy. Building a digital economy should not be a political party-based activity and whether this government is in power, the role should be continued to achieve the goal.

Building a digital economy is just an expression for publicity of a planned task to achieve might be a question for people because people do not know whether Mr. Namal Rajapaksa designed an idea with a comprehensive plan or it is a just talk to mislead people. A comprehensive plan means it needs vision (what people see the economy after the plan period), mission (the combination of objectives and activities) to achieve the vision, objectives, activities, and the budget for all activities, monitoring, and evaluation, remedial management, and audit of the plan. All these are complicated and massive tasks.

Sri Lanka had many plans, and no plan has been implemented until seeing the achieved vision. For example, in 1954, the government developed a four-year development plan with good objectives and activities and it was to put to the rubbish bin in 1958 presenting a ten-year development plan. The joke related to these plans was the person who developed a four-year development engineered a ten-year plan for monitoring the four-year investment program.

Many organizations in the country have individually digitalised, and they are not linked to a control centre. My feeling is the authority of the economy should be the Ministry of Finance or the Central Bank. People of Sri Lanka understand which one is the authority of the economy. This is a vital issue that should be resolved when the economy becomes a digitalised system. The president of Sri Lanka should be decided the authority of the economy and link all major areas into a single authority. In this way, the economy could digitalise and there should be an authority to make policy decisions. The president of Sri Lanka must be the authority and leader of the economy that should be operated without political influence and managing the data structure.

The digitalization of the economy could initially provide 50000 graduate employment then annually 10000 jobs in all fields without difference in educated fields and it would be the best strategy to provide employment opportunities to the economy. There will be other opportunities and unemployment would not be an issue for the country if the economy is successfully digitalised.

Many universities could change curriculum and annual intake and more students could be given opportunities to enter universities and technical colleges. The digital process would enhance the popularity of the government.

The next consideration would be cost and needs to attract competent cost projectors who could, and should, be estimated the cost and identified area. How to find funds for various purposes.

The digitalization of the economy supports creating a strong training industry that supports maintain the digital economy.

When the economy is digitalized, it would create risk from various areas and the major risk aspect is problems would be created by hackers. China has the best techniques to avoid hackers and the government should get help from China.

5 Responses to “BUILDING A DIGITAL ECONOMY IN SRI LANKA”

  1. NeelaMahaYoda Says:

    Before we think about the digital economy, let’s teach government servants how to keep a database safe and keep a regular backup of the database in a non-destructible environment. A piece of recent news reported an incident where the entire database in the government pharmaceutical authority has suddenly disappeared without a trace.

  2. aloy Says:

    Yes, we can!

    Read and buy, perhaps the first Sri Lankan engineering app, available in Google ‘play store’ for just Rs.1200.00 only

    “https://www.astarsoftsl.com/pipeflowappinfor”

  3. NeelaMahaYoda Says:

    Aloy

    Developing a subroutine to simulate a pipe flow is not really the digitalization of what Edward Theophilus is talking about. We have been using such software even during the time of programmable calculators as early as the 1970ies. You should have capability of using well known simulationa packages as Sesam etc. Sesam is a software suite for structural and hydrodynamic analysis of ships and offshore structures. It is based on the displacement formulation of the Finite Element Method .This is digilization of engineering.

  4. aloy Says:

    NMY,
    Thanks for responding.
    It appears to me Edward has got into a path even the tech geeks would fear to tread (due to the entry of Qubits and quantum computing into the scene) and has written in abstract about digitalization all the way except mentioning about maintaining a data base to record and control our economy. I too, do not have the wherewithal to come out very clearly all the confines of digitalization. But let me share what I gather from internet etc. with the readers. I have to mention here that my formal IT education is nil.
    Digitalization is the conversion of texts, pictures, or sounds into a digital format that can be processed by a computer. A digit is an element of a set that, taken as a whole, comprises a system of numeration. Thus a digit is a number in a specific context.
    Basically the present day computers use the following systems:
    Decimal (base 10) : 0, 1, 2, …..,9;
    Hexadecimal (or Hex base 16): 0,1,2,…..9, A, B,C, ……F;
    Binary (base 2): 0,1;
    (So, decimal 1 in binary (8 bit) is : 0000 0001, 3 is:0000 00011, and 4 is: 0000 00100)
    It appears different tech companies have their own system to give the decimal value with binaries with a suffix or a prefix added to the binary system like 00001b.
    The computer uses these bits to do some number crunching to give us a picture or text. The finer the picture larger the number of bits required to synthesize or mix the pixel’s color with three primary colors (RBG or RED, BLUE, GREEN) and this can vary from one byte (8 bits) to three or four. The static pictures taken from cameras encode metadata such as make of camera, date taken, location etc. within those number of bits. And if we create pictures with proprietary products like Word (using Paint), Photoshop etc. even the validity of software license may be included which may not be easily erasable. The bit depth of these pictures can be 24 (three bytes)or 32(four bytes) of different formats like JPEG, PNG etc.
    The number crunching happens so fast that my Samung A70 which has a CPU with 8 cores each working at about 2 Giga hertz per second process to a total of over a trillion instructions per second to give me a picture and sound which can be mirrored on to a TV. And can enjoy the very nice YouTube video of Yohani that is being enjoyed all over the world. With several billions of transistors this is digitalization at its best. I believe the Electro Magnetic (EM) radiation they emit at this massive frequencies is harmful to our health. We as humans do not have a sense to feel it, but other animals or insects feel (perhaps a sense given by nature or god to compensate the sixth sense not given to them) it and do not come anywhere near it. Though I have observed this couple of days ago I will not discuss about it here.
    Now about the Calculator:
    Please google “Calculator” to read a history of making the Calculator.
    Interested readers can get info on the creation of first digital calculator (with processor 4004) developed by Japanese company Busicom the design of which they sold to Intel for a meagre US$ 70k without knowing its value. The 4004, 8008, 8088,and x86 are successive developments by Intel and still in use as of today as x86.
    As for my app given in the link, it is not a calculator only. It is an Analyzer/Calculator. If you read the section ‘about us’, you will know that it is a java version of a software written in AutoLISP/VisualLISP to run inside AutoCAD. When I wanted to put it in Autodesk platform for sale, two of the guys who helped me from CADtutor forum, to get the AutoCAD dialog right, requested to make it free. That was about five years ago. With Android studio the creation of the UI (user interface) that makes the dialog is very simple. You only have to drag and drop the widgets on to display area (like Buttons, Text Fields, Text View areas ) and the code is automatically get written in XML (which is like a subset of HTML). The actual calculation engine works behind the scene to give the results which is done with java. Because I have got the algorithm for it before, writing the code in java became a simple matter.
    Subroutines work only on the parent’s platform. In the case of a Calculator such as Texas Instrument’s which I have used in early 80s, it works only in that particular machine. But Android apps developed on android studio works on any android based phone. In my case the app will work on any phone from Nexus 5 (2014) upwards to date. What we provide is a bundle of binary files. It works on any machine with Android operating system that uses ARM architecture. There isn’t any other similar app in google play store as of today. The closest was an application from a vendor called SUNCAM that used Excel formula written in Visual Basic sold at $90.00 a piece with some online help. That was in 2014 and VB is no longer supported by Microsoft. It ran on desktops and laptops. The sad part is my app (priced at Rs. 1200.00) is not available in Sri Lanka due to forex restrictions. I would like to appeal to our Minister in charge of digitalization to make it available to our young engineers. After all the proceeds will remain in this country and I will not take it away.

  5. aloy Says:

    Further to the above mentioned observation of animals and insects with respect to EM radiation which can be dangerous to humans as well, I would like to add the following link as food for thought of our medics who are perhaps baffled the way some die of cardiac failure after recovery from Covid, in our country:

    “https://www.cellphonetaskforce.org/5g-from-blankets-to-bullets/”

    It is now well known that animals have a clue about the fourth dimension (that is time) from their behaviour in the 2004 Tsunami.
    Their behaviour with respect to radiation from a mobile is another clue about harmful effect of the too much use of mobiles. If 5G radiation can make our blood cells acts as transmitters (as the above article points out) the 4G that we use in our mobiles also may have some effects in making blood clots.

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