This is a best prospect industry sector for this country. Includes a market overview and trade data.
Last Published: 7/22/2019

Overview

The telecommunication, computer and information services are key growth component within the services sector and delivered steady growth in 2018.  Total earnings from the ICT sector amounted to $995 million in 2018, about an 8.9 percent growth over the previous year.  In 2018, the country initiated the process of adopting fifth generation (5G) technology.  U.S. software providers have been successful in selling solutions to private customers and to some public-sector agencies.

Sri Lanka's information technology and business process outsourcing sector tripled exports and doubled the workforce in a little over five years.  The sector grew by 120 percent over the past five years making it one of the highest growth areas in the economy and the fifth largest export segment.  Sri Lanka’s IT/business process management sector envisions $5 billion in revenue, 200,000 direct jobs, and 1,000 start-ups by 2022.  The state-owned Information and Communication Technology Agency (ICTA) is at the forefront of driving IT and implementing programs to ensure development of IT in cities as well as the villages. The ICTA is involved in a five-pronged strategy of the e-Sri Lanka initiative, which encompasses building information infrastructure and an enabling environment, developing ICT human resources, modernizing government and delivering citizen services, leveraging ICT for economic and social development, and promoting Sri Lanka as an ICT destination. 

Sri Lanka is also emerging as a global IT Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) destination of choice in a number of key areas.  Sri Lanka was ranked 11th among the top 50 global outsourcing destinations in 2017 by AT Kearney, moving up three slots from 2016.  Sri Lanka’s software industry produces world-class products and has grown significantly over the past decade.  The software services sector includes telecommunications, banking, financial services and insurance (BFSI) and software testing.  The BPO sector includes financial & accounting services, investment research, engineering services, and UK-based legal services.  According to the World Bank, Sri Lanka has relatively low labor costs compared to other BPO destinations.  HSBC, RR Donnelley, Sysco LABS, Astron, 3SG, Hellocorp, Innodata, and WNS Global Services have set up call centers or BPO operations in Sri Lanka.  Numerous U.S. companies, many small or medium sized, are developing software in Sri Lanka.  The government seeks to further develop Sri Lanka as a base for information technology, call centers, and out-sourcing.

The telecom sector in Sri Lanka is one of the country's most dynamic sectors, contributing significantly, both directly and indirectly, to investment, employment, productivity, innovation, and overall economic growth.  Sri Lanka's telecommunication market is overcrowded, with five mobile operators serving a population of 21 million.  With recent substantial taxes imposed on telecommunication companies, it is expected that the smaller companies will exit or merge with the larger firms.  The telecom sector in Sri Lanka is responsible for substantial foreign direct investment (FDI) in recent years.  Telecom use has been rising, and the total fixed line and mobile telephone density has increased to 161 per 100 persons led by an increase in mobile subscribers.  The demand for basic voice services appears to be reaching saturation point.  The mobile-telephone operators dominate the sector.  The continued expansion in infrastructure has enabled a sophisticated level of telecommunication services throughout the whole country.  There is significant competition among the existing operators, consisting of three fixed-line operators, five mobile phone operators, and 11 Internet Service Providers.  The U.S. exported approximately $2 million of telecommunications equipment to Sri Lanka in 2017.

Sri Lanka is connected to the South East Asia-Middle East-West Europe 4 (SEA-ME-WE IV) project, the submarine cable system linking South East Asia to Europe via the Indian Sub-Continent and Middle East.  The project aims to take these regions to the forefront of global communication by significantly increasing the bandwidth and global connectivity of users along its route between Singapore and France.  SEA-ME-WE 4 fiber optics cables provide a bandwidth capacity of 1.28 terabits per second, with a 25 year guaranteed lifespan for the technology.  This submarine cable system offers Sri Lanka an immense bandwidth advantage, and paves the way to make Sri Lanka a globally competitive business hub.

Leading Sub-Sectors

Telecommunications Equipment and Infrastructure
Software
Mobile applications

Opportunities

The Ministry of Telecommunications is finalizing an international tender for digital identification cards.  Total cost is over $55 million and will cover almost the entire population. 
Opportunities for digitizing the government procurement system:
There are opportunities for U.S. software and hardware vendors.
There are opportunities for software application (app) development.
There are opportunities for telecommunications equipment.

Web Resources

Information and Communication Technology Agency www.icta.lk
Sri Lanka Association for Software and Services Companies www.slasscom.lk

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Sri Lanka Information and Communication Technology Trade Development and Promotion