“Sri Lanka can double revenue from IT services exports by 2025” | Daily News

“Sri Lanka can double revenue from IT services exports by 2025”

Elegent media
Elegent media

Sri Lanka’s domestic economic and energy situation does not improve within the next six months, more than 50% of IT companies (especially those with foreign affiliations) would look at moving out of Sri Lanka, mainly with an eye on India.

“The energy issue has aligned multiple other problems around it and looking towards the future we need to think about a Boomerang Strategy,” said CEO of Elegant Media, Anushka Bandara.

“If we look at fuel for example, if the government were to provide the required energy for IT service exporters, then the much-needed foriegn currency would flow in and help to support the economy. We have to give to get and instead of focusing on non-essential sectors, IT service exporters must receive priority or at least a subsidy or solution for their energy issues that will boomerang their way back to the island in dollars.”

Anushka Bandara

Today Bandara speaks to ‘Daily News Business’ on the difficult way forward for the IT Sector at this critical economic juncture.

Q: Give us a brief description about Elegant Media and its operations?

A: Elegant Media was founded in 2010 and is the largest mobile app developer in Australia and New Zealand. We have worked with the Australian Government, Department of Defence, Army, Air Force and the Australian Taxation Office, to name a few of our valued clients.

Elegant Media has developed a wide range of mobile app solutions for customers across Australia, New Zealand, the United States and Sri Lanka.

In terms of managing a local team we at Elegant Media follow a hybrid model of working, so each project will have an assigned team and the Project Manager would be based in the country of the client.

My core development team is based out of Australia, New Zealand and Sri Lanka, with additional remote teams in Eastern Europe and Ireland as well.

We connect our projects through a virtual development process that drives success across different borders and time zones, in order to deliver value to all our clients.

This process ensures ultimate collaboration and communication when undertaking projects that are commercially important with pre-agreed timelines and deliverables. All the Project Teams shoulder the responsibility of ensuring the satisfaction of our clients.

Q: Describe the role of the IT Service Exporters in boosting the Sri Lankan Economy?

A: If we look at this present moment in Sri Lanka, we have depleted our foreign reserves and therefore we need to focus on avenues to bring in foreign currency.

We need to look beyond the traditional export channels of tea, rubber, coconut, apparel and tourism in order to overcome this situation because even the regular inflows from migrant remittances are not reliable any more. IT services as an export was valued at close to 1.5 billion USD in 2019 and I believe we can easily make it 3 billion USD within the next three years.

If we look forward to the potential of IT services as an export, no other sector can promise to double its revenues within such a short period of time. This is the critical role that IT service exporters can play in helping to boost and uplift the country’s ailing economy during such an important period. But how are we going to achieve this goal of 3 Billion USD worth of IT service exports by 2025?

We need to target Advanced Level school leavers and provide them an affordable and quality university education. The courses and content must deliver on the real skills needed by the industry. In Sri Lanka today for example, there are many IT graduates who lack the skill set that is most required to propser in the global IT industry. We also need to showcase the potential of IT as a solid career. If you have the right skills, the sky’s the limit and if I can hire 25 Sri Lankan iOS developer’s tomorrow, I would hire them today. There is a significant global demand for mobile app developers and overseas customers are always on the lookout for the top tier of developers with great interest. I believe we can double the revenue from IT Services Exports by 2025.

Q: With reference to the recent disruptions to the economy, describe the role of the government and authorities in promoting and supporting IT Service Exporters?

A: In the past, no IT company really wanted any help from the government up until the most recent round of power disruptions. Now we are facing a huge uphill task when it comes to completing and delivering our projects due to the energy crisis, curfew and protests around the country. Today my main message to the government would be to request the IT Industry when prioritize energy. If the authorities can assure the IT sector of uninterrupted power during working hours, that would be of great value at this time. If this is not a practical long term solution, then in the short term at least I propose, when distributing fuel, to consider the IT sector as a priority industry. This would enable us to run our own generators and conduct our business operations smoothly. The government of today therefore has a huge responsibility to bring the industry back on track and create a sense of stability and confidence.

In the mid-term, the government should consider the promotion of Sri Lanka as a tech hub and IT services destination. This could be similar to the lines of the tourism promotions in the mid-2000s (A land like no other).

In the longer-term, the authorities should further accelerate and reinforce schemes and programms that provide candidates with the right skill sets that are demanded by employers. Today, thanks to virtual classrooms it is possible for Sri Lankan IT students to obtain a world-class qualification directly via online learning platforms.

Q: What has been the impact of fuel shortages, protests and electricity disruption to your operations and how have you managed to tackle this situation?

A: In early April of 2022 it was especially difficult as we had to face upto 13 hours of daily power interruption and my team was unable to keep up with their delivery schedules which put us in a tough spot, as we could not tell our customers that we could not deliver due to the energy situation in Sri Lanka.

The ongoing protests are also not helping our recovery as it directs the focus of team members and this has an impact on productivity as well. The staff found it extremely difficult to come to work as a result of a variety of travel disruptions and the yet ongoing fuel issue. In order to streamline operations, we made working from the office optional and we organised substitute power solutions and even with limited public transport, for those coming into the office, we provided generated electricity. This was the best rapid response we could have provided at the time, given the circumstances of running an active business.

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