Mobile phone,
a valuable tool for empowering people - Tissa Vitarana

The mobile phone is a valuable tool for empowering the people, says Technology and Research Minister Professor Tissa Vitarana. The Minister said so while participating as Chief Guest at the inauguration of the first South Asian Mobile Content Conference held at Colombo recently.

Speaking further at the inauguration of the conference hosted by the ICT Agency of Sri Lanka (CTA) with Etisalat Sri Lanka Private Ltd. and hSenid Mobile as strategic partners, the Minister said that technology, when properly, used could open new vistas of great opportunities for people everywhere. "Sri Lanka is relatively at an advantage among countries in the region owing to its high rate of literacy offering a great opportunity for knowledge. Knowledge is power enabling people to forge ahead. It helps to bridge the gap between the rich and the poor, the village and the city. This opportunity should be grabbed and optimized, the Minister urged.

"It is a well known fact that media is controlled by powerful groups who amass wealth at the expense of society. Mobile phone can dispel the false information and rid society of the ills that misinformation brings and thus enrich people’s quality of life", the Minister pointed out.

In his address at the inauguration of the confab with representatives from South Asia including about 300 from Sri Lanka ICTA Chief Operating Officer Reshan Dewapura said: "In an era, when we are advancing towards a digital civilization, towards a digital environment, digital content and applications become even more important. In order to maximize the effect and impact of digital tools, we have to address the need for these applications and content, not only for computers, but more increasingly for mobile devices as well. Hence it is timely and appropriate that a conference of this nature is being held and that for the first time to discuss the importance and various aspects of mobile content and also to follow it up with a Jury process that will choose the very best of such content in the South Asian region.

"It is worth noting with significance, the ever increasing convergence of the ICT sector with the Mobile Industry, which has made strides and impacted a vast population in the last 10 years or so, in its own right. Mobile devices are being progressively used more as tools for accessing information services and executing transactions as opposed to mere voice communication. And increasingly more so by a target population that is crucial in realizing our visions, the BoP (or the bottom of the pyramid). Addressing the needs and demands of this segment of society, is likely to be the success of the information revolution, and we are aware, that more and more it is the mobile devices, that will play an imperative role in this. Hence the applications and content in the mobile space are vitally important, to fully leverage on this opportunity and maximize the benefits.

"So it is no surprise that as Government , as a Government agency we are fully behind meaningful events such as mBillionth. e-Sri Lanka’s own flagship project, Lanka Gate – the de facto e-Service delivery platform for all Government e-services – recognizes Mobile devices as a key channel, not only for accessing the services but for mobile payments as well and we are taking all necessary steps to implement this in full, some of which is already completed and available . The importance of the mobile sector in ICT is thus noted by Government and it is committed towards it now and in the future.

"It is indeed pertinent to mention a few more words on the commitment of this Government in the development of ICT. We are fortunate to have the leadership of a President who has recognized the development acceleration capability of ICT and placed it fairly and squarely in his policy statement of Mahinda Chintana. Mahinda Chintana also speaks of making Sri Lanka ‘a knowledge hub’ of Asia, again laying great emphasis on the role the information society has to play in the country’s development plans. We are also privileged to have the support of the Minister of Technology and Research who has been associated with our work since our inception, since 2004 and has been a constant guiding light in all our efforts and who continues to tirelessly promote technology as driver in our development effort".

In his welcome address ICTA Chairman Professor P. W. Epasinghe wished all long life and mentioned a special word of welcome to Chief Guest Minister of Technology and Research Professor Tissa Vitarana for being a pillar of strength to ICTA in all its activities.

The keynote address was delivered by World Mobile Monday Founder Jari Tammisto of Finland. Etisalat Sri Lanka Private Ltd CEO Dumnidra Ratnayake, hSenid Mobile CEO and SLASSCOM Chairman Dinesh Saparamadu and Founder and Director of Digital Empowerment Foundation Osama Manzar and several others spoke at the inaugural session while about 25 experts also delivered addresses at the confab.

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