Sri Lanka has long dreamt of going digital with its basic needs so that the convenience of it is felt by the general public. In this 21st century, digitalization is a key need and even in some developing nations in the region today, basic citizen services have been digitalized such as providing digital identification cards, payment through online methods, and video conferencing in some of these main government departments etc.
Today the need to go digital is much greater than ever before, the new normal had demanded a digital connected lifestyle than ever before. With the virus mutating with new variants almost every year and with waves of these mutations keeping countries on edge, digitalization is the key to keeping economies afloat. While Sri Lanka should have implemented some of these basics years ago, unfortunately the previous government failed to take note of this and failed to establish the necessary laws. However, our government is now committed to bringing in new laws and regulations and implement most of the plans from this year, which will all link to the citizen’s digital wallet.
In fact this is not rocket science even to the common man. With basic smart phones used by almost all citizens in today’s world, the necessary apps and infrastructure can be easily provided by the government which will enable to adjust to the digital world very quickly. It will also create more youth employment opportunities and enable these trained youth to even compete for jobs in the international market.
In a comprehensive road map created by my Ministry, there are number of essential projects I will concentrate on including an E-Court solution for 100 Court houses, for which Procurement is completed. The Ministry plans to commence implementation of this project in June 2022 and the final details are being worked upon. In addition, we will also establish 100 Video conferencing installations for Court houses and Prisons.
In setting up the Health Sector Digital transformational road map, a Digital Health Blueprint is underway with the Ministry of Health. A Hospital Health Information Management System (HHIMS) for OPD and Clinics will also be established at 50 Government Hospitals and 30 new Hospitals which is planned within next 6–9 months.
There is a famous Proverb, “The Child who reads will be an adult who thinks”. Thus, we have already launched 8 Digital Libraries and 18 more digital Libraries will be launched Soon. We will be putting more emphasis in creating more similar projects targeting the upliftment of the children in Sri lanka.
A project which we have already successfully launched is the Electronic Registration of Companies (e-EOC). With this solution, all Issues at the Registrar of Companies have been resolved and a Digitization solution is successfully in operation.
The government is also in the midst of rolling out the new E-Revenue License Solution. This new solution is expected to resolve issues facing due to increased Vehicle Revenue License Issuances and is aimed to be Executed within year. The ETF Department will also be digitalized by within this year.
In the government department sector, up to 100,000 employees will be connected through email by the end of 2022. A Video Conferencing solution will also be implemented for 100 Government Institutions, which is expected to be rolled out in the next quarter.
Another very important step which is long overdue is digitalizing the government payrolls. Ministry of Finance is at the proposal acceptance Stage and the government intends to commence the national rollout.
On the Education Sector, the Digital Transformation Roadmap formalization has been initiated and the E-Thaksalawa project has already been launched and continuously to be scaled up to be covering all government schools in parallel to the school fiberization project by TRCSL.
Another important project is the SLUID Digital Identity Card Project. The RFP formulation process has already been initiated, and the pilot development has already commenced and awaiting final cabinet clearance on project grant process.
In addition to the above, one of the Key Citizen Enablement Project which will be implemented this year is PAY.GOV.LK. This is the introduction of a Government Online Pay Platform to enable all public sector organizations to accept online payments seamlessly using the platform. Presently the project design is in progress.
Then then GOV.LK Platform is being revamped to unify all government services for citizens. It is presently being revamped and remodeled.
The Citizen super App (Mobile) will also be launched to unify all government services including COVID vaccination passes and other future services initiated with voluntary assistance from industry. This vital project is expected to be launched shortly.
Then the GIC.LK will be launched which is a government information portal driven on 1919 to be overhauled with state-of-the-art CRM for efficient citizen request handling of relevant government agencies. The migration of call centers to new service providers has already been completed.
The establishment of FORMS.GOV.LK project which is funded by World Bank assistance is in progress and will be initiated to accelerate the automation of citizen requests through a centralized workflow solution.
The Digital Ministry is also working on Key Digital Infrastructure Enablement Projects. This includes the revamp of the current Lanka Government Cloud to be migrated to an environment state of the art tier 3 data center capabilities initiated with the telco industry which is key in ramping up cloud infrastructure services required for above projects and rapid digital transformation activities across all government organizations. The Cabinet paper for approval is being prepared based on the final stages of cost modelling with service providers.
In addition, the initiation of a cloud-based strategy and approach to accelerate email and collaboration solutions is also being strategized to leverage global cloud services to ensure rapid digital transformation enabling email and digital collaboration and document management and workflow automation for government organizations. The Cabinet paper for approval has been submitted.
The era of going digital is now the need of the hour. While the previous government failed in their duties to give these basic rights to our people, my Ministry now has begun work to accelerate and implement this comprehensive road map for the benefit of all citizens, including the youth.
By the end of 2022, Sri Lanka will be digitalized in many vital sectors. Our work has begun.
(Namal Rajapaksa is a Cabinet Minister of Government of Sri Lanka, a lawyer and an avid Sportsman. Namal is the Cabinet Minister for Sports and Youth portfolio as well as Minister of Development Co-ordination and Monitoring. He is also the State Minister of Digital Technology and Enterprise Development of Sri Lanka).