Sri Lanka recently became the first South Asian country to ratify the United Nations Convention on the Use of Electronic Communications in International Contracts (i.e. the UN Electronic Communications Convention). The instrument of ratification on behalf of Sri Lanka was deposited at the Treaty Office in New York by Sri Lanka’s Permanent Resident at the UN.

HE A.L.A. Azeez the Sri Lankan Ambassador to Austria and Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Vienna, addressing the recently concluded 48th Session of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL), confirmed this fact.

His address highlighted some of the key aspects of Sri Lanka’s IT industry growth over the last few years. Here are some excerpts from his speech.

“We strongly believe that ICT is the tool and the enabler that will push the boundaries of socio-economic development in countries such as ours. We are committed to harnessing the full potential of ICT and using the highly educated human resource for the development of our Country. Through e-Government led reforms we will work towards greater transparency, efficiency and accountability. With access to latest mobile broadband technologies across the Country, Sri Lanka’s Internet expansion has been exponential. It is our firm belief that our people should be able to use the Internet with freedom and confidence.

…It is important to record the significant advancements made by Sri Lanka in the field of ICTs. For several years Sri Lanka ranks No. 1 in South Asia in the Networked Readiness Index (NRI), published jointly by the World Economic Forum & INSEAD in France.

Last year, Sri Lanka’s ranking in the UN e-Government Readiness Index jumped 41 places bringing it to the No. 1 position in South Asia. This was a land-mark achievement for our country.

Substantial investments have already been made in the deployment of ICTs for technological and institutional transformation of key sectors of the economy under the internationally acclaimed “e-Sri Lanka Development initiative”, supported by the World Bank. Peace, growth and equity were our goals.

A large number of government services are now available on line to citizens through our country portal (LankaGate), facilitated by the Information and Communication Technology Agency (ICTA). Visitors to Sri Lanka can obtain visas on the Internet – the facilitating legal framework, e-Government and e-Commerce is in place.

Whilst providing enhanced access to the Internet, my country is eager to combat criminal activities on the internet. A lot of policy and institutional measures have been adopted in Sri Lanka. The Computer Crimes Act No. 24 of 2007 and our national Sri Lanka CERT are internationally recognized. In February 2015, Sri Lanka was invited to join the Budapest Cyber Crime Convention by the Council of Europe and we acceded to this Convention on 29th May 2015.

 In this overall context I consider it timely that my country ratified the UN Electronic Communications Convention, the only Convention on the subject of electronic commerce prepared by UNCITRAL and adopted by the United Nations general assembly in 2005.”

This speech reaffirms Sri Lanka’s commitment to encourage the growth of the ICT industry and augurs well for the future.