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Serving Sri Lanka

This web log is a news and views blog. The primary aim is to provide an avenue for the expression and collection of ideas on sustainable, fair, and just, grassroot level development. Some of the topics that the blog will specifically address are: poverty reduction, rural development, educational issues, social empowerment, post-Tsunami relief and reconstruction, livelihood development, environmental conservation and bio-diversity. 

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Easy Seva to connect the unconnected in rural communities

Daily Mirror: 05/09/2007" By Christina Bjornstrom

QUALCOMM, Dialog Telekom, USAID and Synergy Strategies Group announced the launch of their Wireless Reach initiative in Sri Lanka through opening their first Easy Seva branch in Wennappuwa. 15 Easy Seva centres are scheduled to open in Sri Lanka’s most underserved rural communities.

Easy Seva centres will provide customers with wireless internet access, PC usage and Voip services such as Skype allowing communication to be made at less than one seventh the cost charged by IDD booths.

QUALCOMM India and SAARC President Kanwalinder Singh sees a huge opportunity in providing wireless access to the underserved highlighting, “[it] is an attempt by us to do our part to provide and show that rural projects have commercial viability.”USAID Sri Lanka Acting Mission Director says Easy Seva centers will be able to receive remittances and provide micro-credit financing in the near future: “this technology has been adapted and applied to benefit Sri Lanka by enhancing the socioeconomic capacity of the Sri Lankan people.”

Dialog Telekom General Manager Nushad Perera declares Easy Seva will decrease rural communities’ digital divide through offering affordable communication outlets. Easy Seva seeks to create a mini-economy through franchising their branches to selected entrepreneurs.

Entrepreneurs will be recruited within communities and villages Easy Seva plans to branch into. Instead of relying on mass media advertising to recruit franchisers and customers, Easy Seva will rely on the entrepreneur himself to create awareness by word of mouth.

Interested franchise recipients will have a proven entrepreneurial record as well as proof of community leadership. After passing a thorough credit and references check, successful applicants will finance and run their Easy Seva branch with a 3 year loan from the National Development Bank. Upon opening a branch, franchisers will receive an equipment package complete with PCs, phones and necessary IT training.

During the first 3 years, Easy Seva is expected to garner profits of $300 to $500 for each franchiser. After 3 years, Easy Seva will be fully owned by the franchiser awarding a profit potential of up to $20,000 a month.

Easy Seva is the first communication center of its kind to be launched in the South Asian market. With Microsoft providing and funding the IT training program for entrepreneurs, they will be readily equipped to bring technology and affordable communication to the rural communities of Sri Lanka.

Synergy Strategies Group Team Leader Shoban Rainford says that over the next 3 years, Easy Seva hopes to expand to 500 centres around the island as a “truly Sri Lankan operation.”

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Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Nanotechnology provides the answers: Vitharana

Daily Mirror: http://www.dailymirror.lk/2007/07/16/news/01.asp
By Sandun A. Jayasekera

“In an era where new technology is sweeping the world, 29% of the population in Sri Lanka is under malnutrition. More than one million youth are unemployed.

There was a time where the per capita income (PCI), in South Korea was half of what in Sri Lanka. Today, the PCI in South Korea is over US$ 35,000 while Sri Lanka lags behind with a meagre US$ 1300,” Minister of Science and Technology, Prof. Tissa Vitharana said.

Commenting on what lies ahead in a rapidly changing world he said the nanotechnology provides answers to many development and technological issues as the importance and applicability of nanotechnology in almost every field felt strongly.

Prof. Vitharana made these remarks when he participated in a media presentation and press briefing of the Institute of Engineers of Sri Lanka (IESL) as the Chief Guest recently in Colombo held in connection with “Techno 2007 - Engineering and Technology Exhibition - scheduled to be taken place in October from 19 to 21.

The true role of engineers should be developing innovative ideas in to practical usage for the betterment of the people, the Minister of Science and Technology added.

“We are going through a technology revolution and the ‘chip’ is playing a vital part in it. The responsibility of the engineers is to make people in the country a part of the fast changing world of technology. New knowledge could be translated in to an active process and new products are constantly coming to the market in a globalized world with even a little old product making obsolete,” he said.

Ironically, the gap between the rich and poor is widening rapidly in a highly competitive and technology guided market. If Sri Lanka is to get out of poverty and bridge the gap it has to develop technology. The countries known as Asian Tigers, such as South Korea, Malaysia, Taiwan and Thailand have done that. China and India are doing it right now. Unfortunately Sri Lanka has missed the bus, he said.

“Solution to many global issues, be it scientific, technological, trade, agriculture of health nanotechnology has the answer. We have only begun to see what can be achieved through nanotechnology and its continued development to the point of maturation that will lead to changes in the world that will redefine life,” he stressed.

Chairman, ‘Techno 2007’, Ranjith G. Rubasingha, in his presentation emphasized that the objective of the three day exhibition would be to pave the way to revolutionize Sri Lanka’s existing technology by attracting those who are passionate with engineering and technology.

“The exhibition would be a place to articulate our engineering capabilities to the world and have a splendid blend of engineering and trade stalls numbering over 250. it will also be a unique place to see all the engineering and technology related products and services,” Rubasingha added.

Sri Lankan industries, foreign investors and traders, engineering professionals, academics, researchers and students, innovators, potential young entrepreneurs and the general public will immensely benefit from the ‘Techno 2007’ exhibition, he said.

President, IESL, D.L.Taldena delivered the welcome address and Manager, ‘Techno 2007’ Malcolm Perera proposed the vote of thanks.

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