Sri Lanka has been working on building up its internet markets, and on developing an internet presence in general over the last year, as it struggles with a lack of information and communications technology (ICT) infrastructure. The lack of investment that has hindered the build-out of web-based technologies in Sri Lanka has also been coupled with government censorship of the existing internet content that is available, making participation in web development less-than-appealing for many who would invest. But a turnaround is taking place in the country that tallied a total of 15% internet penetration in June 2012 according to Internet World Stats.
VISUAL CONTEXT: FACEBOOK USE IN SRI LANKA
On April 24, Sri Lanka Telecom announced a US$415 million project to build out data centers, expand network breadth and coverage, and work on its pay-TV service. The project overall will cover general development of wireless and wired technologies, high-speed broadband, expanding residential web connections, cloud computing, and voice services.
The news comes weeks after SLT revealed in March that it plans to develop a cloud-computing service along with its expanding broadband program. The service, to be called akaza, will bypass the building of heavy-duty data centers and instead provide infrastructure-as-a-service — a function of the last several years’ developments in cloud computing that enables businesses to store data and host communications on cloud-based services instead of having to spend money on installing hardware first.
Cloud computing also stands to become a major part of Sri Lanka’s burgeoning web-based economy. U.S.-based information tech firm SAP has reported that Sri Lankan firms should be thinking about taking advantage of cloud-based technologies in order to save capital expenditure, but also facilitate their communications strategies. Countries that missed out on building legacy infrastructure that was part of the first wired generation of ICT development are in a unique position to bypass the old requirements for building expensive data centers in order to join the wireless world. Instead, they have the opportunity to capitalize on newer cloud-based technologies to skip ahead to the high-speed communications of today. (This phenomenon is similar to the rise of 4G across Africa despite a lack of existing 3G legacy infrastructure; wireless capabilities can now be installed through a network of base stations.)
Hopefully, Sri Lanka’s continued penchant for stifling bloggers, and political dissenters on social media á la its neighboring Asian governments will not continue to hinder the country’s important build-out of ICT and cloud-based technologies. As progressive as its technology market is looking to be, heavy government censorship could be a permanent obstacle for gaining foreign investment.