MAHAVILACHCHIYA, Anuradhapura – Business Processing Outsourcing (BPO) is a growing business globally which Sri Lanka has now cottoned onto quite capably.
Dozens of BPO’s are springing up here as global companies look for cost effective ways of handling their back-office operations in countries where labour and communications are cheaper than the west.
Yet ever heard of a BPO company in a jungle setting, next to a wild life park and subject to the occasional threat by the LTTE? OnTime Pvt Ltd is part of rural Sri Lanka’s first IT village, Horizon Lanka in the backwoods of Mahavilachchiya (adjoining Wilpattu) off Anuradhapura, where a group of youth processes data for a fee.
There is nothing different in the BPO industry in processing information inside the office of the client or the service provider located elsewhere. For example, staff at Mahavilachchiya’s proud company, OnTime, processing marketing data for a John Keells Group subsidiary daily could – if we close the curtains in this nice office surrounded by shady trees and occasional bird calls – very well be inside a JKH office in Colombo. There’s nothing different.
OnTime operators log into a JKH SAP accounting system through a secured link and enter data like prices and quality of suppliers. Some 150 documents are handled by one operator per day. Dialog Telekom and Singer are expected to join OnTime as its next clients with negotiations going on with the two parties.
“The BPO entry came as we needed to create job opportunities for our youngsters to remain in the village after their initial learning in English and IT,” said Nandasiri Wanninayaka (better known as ‘Wanni”), the village boy-English teacher-turned village entrepreneur.
Horizon Lanka, Sri Lanka’s first IT village, is a revelation itself. Launched by Wanni, as a Mahavilachchiya school teacher, in 1998, the initiative began as an English teaching exercise for the children whose parents were mostly rice farmers. From there with one computer donated by the US embassy, impressed by an English journal that the students did, the village has progressed to a centre of IT learning where one in every eight families has a computer (a ratio of 100 computers for 800 families).
Unheard of before but in these backwoods poor farmers are reading online newspapers in the comfort of their makeshift homes with uptodate computers with the help – unbelievable again – of seven wifi zones under a new technology called MESH. Here a section of the village amidst paddy fields and streams has wireless Internet access at all times.
Wanni and his Horizon Lanka exploits are legendary and profiled in newspapers and TV stations across the world. The IT village’s biggest opportunity probably came when Wanni and his best students shared the stage with Intel Chairman Dr. Craig Barrett in December 2005, during the latter’s visit to Sri Lanka and presence at a major IT conference.
The idea of setting up a BPO emerged as Wanni pondered on the next level of development. “Having taught English and then IT, the next issue was where do they get jobs? How can we retain them in the village?” he asked.
Enter the Foundation for Advancing Rural Opportunities in Sri Lanka (FAROLanka) to help Horizon set up its BPO and find its first client. FARO’s help however comes with some conditions – Wanni’s support and guidance to help other villages to develop on similar lines which the latter and his team are more than willing to do.
Isuru Senevirathna is OnTime’s Operations Director. He has received BPO training – along with another OnTime employee – in Laos and India sponsored by John Keells.
The 20-year old youth like any other Mahavilachchiya youngster would have had to either join the armed forces (in the case of girls it’s garment factories) or remain in the village as a farmer, until Wanni and his vision came along. Now Isuru is the proud owner of a motor cycle, happy and contended.
OnTime CEO is Nirosh Manjula Ranathunga, a 30 year-old graduate from Kelaniya University who studied IT while doing his B.Com degree. Ranathunga, who lives in Anuradhapura and visits Horizon twice a week saying he can handle operations from his home town easily through email/Internet, is also interested in transferring his skills and learning to other villages. He has his own company, Real Business Solutions, and runs a formerly-owned Horizon Lanka cyber café in Anuradhapura.
“I joined Horizon Lanka two years ago as a project manager and I’am very happy with this BPO initiative,” he said. Some 50 youths are being trained to take up BPO jobs in Mahavilachchiya which has a modern computer lab with 512 KBPS Internet connection. The Horizon Lanka website is www.horizonlanka.org
Mahavilachchiya – first village to have BPO operation
Mahavilachchiya, a village 245 kms from colombo is well known among locals and the international community as the first evillage and the village with the highest density of computers compared to any other village in Sri Lanka. Most parts of the village have broadband internet connectivity thanks to the hard work of the CEO of Horizon Lanka Foundation (HLF) T. B. Nandasiri Wanninayaka.
Today it is the first village to have a Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) operation, which is totally handled by youngsters who are not only fluent in English and Computer knowledge but also play squash and rugger.
Wanni as he is popularly known has brought a smile to the youth of the village due to years of hard work and not accepting “No” for an answer. The concept of carrying out work for Colombo based and international companies from Mahavilachchiya was contemplated by Wanni even before the term BPO was widely known. Kapila Gunawardena based in the USA visited the HLF and seeing the potential of the youth wanted us to start a BPO operation, said Wanni.
John Keells was introduced to HLF by the Foundation for Advancing Rural Poverty (FARO). This saw the birth of the first BPO operation from rural Mahavilachchiya. The company On-Time Technologies (Pvt) Ltd., the BPO Company based in Mahavilachchiya rents the facility and the IT infrastructure of Horizon Lanka Academy.
Nirosh Ranatunga, a graduate from the University of Kelaniya functions as the CEO while Isuru Seneviratne is a director. John Keells selected one of its subsidiaries Infomate Ltd. to pioneer the outsourcing of transaction processing to On-Time Ltd. John Keells selected Infomate Ltd as they are in the business of providing outsourced accounting service owing to the availability of a high volume of data intensive transactions and the familiarity with the outsourcing model.
The JK strategic group IT division facilitated the setting up of the remote connectivity to JKH systems from Mahavilachchiya and the high internet links of On-Time facilitate data access and transaction processing. Once the secure connectivity was set up a tripartite agreement was signed between John Keells, On-Time Ltd and FARO in May 2007 and there has been no turning back since then.
Infomate transfers digitised images electronically to On-Time and they carry out the processing of invoices and document indexing based on the images. The outsourcing work for Infomate (Pvt) Ltd. is done from Mahavilachchiya using advanced communication technology. At present the operation is handled by four youth of Horizon Lanka Foundation while two are undergoing training at Infomate Ltd.
The staffers of On-Time said that they could break even when the two students join them after the training. At present each operator processes 150 invoices per day.
Nirosh Ranatunga said that a separate data link provided free by LankaCom, is used to connect Mahavilachchiya and JKH avoiding internet for a secured connectivity. Security tokens are being used to make the connectivity more secure but it creates high overheads since we have to pay a monthly rental for each token.
We use two software systems for the BPO operation which is SAP and BPO Mate. SAP is a client server software of which the client is installed at our site and our operators give user names and passwords to connect to the server at JKH.
The BPO Mate a web based system that we access via a web browser giving its URL. Separate user names and passwords are given to our operators for BPO Mate. This is used to retrieve images. The Speed of the datalink is 128 kbps.
Wanni said that they have also signed a contract with Dialog Telekom to process customer data while FARO is in discussion with Singer as well.
He said that since JKH was their first client it was easy to get recognition and secure a client as JKH is well recognised.
Wanni said that creating jobs in the village has opened many opportunities for the youngsters, which were hitherto shut. Without the support and help of JKH and FARO we would not have achieved so much in such a short period of time, said a grateful Wanni.
He said that they would showcase this village as a model for teaching English and IT using modern technology. He said that technology should be accessible to all children be they in the village or city as all children are talented.
He said prior to this project being introduced girls joined garment factories while the boys joined the Armed Forces after completing their education. English and IT has opened a host of opportunities to these youngsters and expanded their horizon as the name implies.
Dr. Ashok Junjunwala of IIT India during his visit had suggested that Anuradhapura be made a BPO district with Mahavilachchiya as the base.
We as Sri Lankans should hope and pray that this becomes a reality sooner than later where every citizen can be proud of the youth of this country. During the training period Infomate takes the trainees through an induction program as well as a structured program in the processing of accounting transactions.
The Social Responsibility Foundation of John Keells also provides the trainees with accommodation during the training period.
The horizon Lanka Academy trains the students in Computers and English and now most of them are so tech savvy that they even have their own blogs, which has helped them, win laptops from donors.
The first lucky blogger to receive a laptop from Dr Ing. E. Leuthold of Switzerland was Tharanga Sampath. Among the other lucky winners are Ranuka Udayanga an 18-year-old Advanced Level student while the other was Hansi Sumedha (16), an O/L student.
The village of Mahavilachchiya got Internet connections before the village got telephone connections thanks to Mesh technology, a project, donated by UNDP. Mahavilachchiya was selected as the testing ground for Mesh technology as it was the village with the highest density of computers.
Hansi Sumedha said that her ambition is to become a doctor. She said, “Before I joined HLF I didn’t have any knowledge of English or computers. Thanks to the teachers of HLF now I have my own blog to which I write often. Most importantly I perform better than my classmates in school. She said that she could use her laptop to do presentations.
Her parents are farmers and she has two sisters.
Isuru Seneviratna, now a director of On-Time studied up to the GCE (O/L) in Mahavilachchiya and has been groomed by Wanni from grade four. He sat for his A/L examination in the Science stream from Nivaththaka Chethiya Vidyalaya Anuradhapura. Speaking of Wanni’s teaching methods, he said that he used innovative methods, which made them like the subject.
He was a lucky recipient of a BPO training program, which he underwent in Laos and India for three months. We were fortunate to be trained by David Paulson in Laos. “I got a whole new experience and thanks to that I am very much changed. He also gave us a good training in management.
“I gained a lot of experience at JKH, Laos and India and I don’t know what I would have done if this project was not initiated by Wanninayaka Sir,” said Seneviratne who will be celebrating his 20th birthday this week. His future plans are developing the company and moving to the management side, as that is his pet area.
Nirosh Ranatunga sharing his experience about Laos and India said that Laos is not as developed as our country.
The English knowledge is somewhat good but they have excellent systems while some team members are good in IT. Therefore they follow the systems and do big projects for clients even in the USA.
Ranatunga, a commerce graduate from the University of Kelaniya has done some software projects even while a student and now owns his own software development facility in Anuradhapura. Among his future plans are developing On-Time technologies as well as his private business.
U. B. Seetha, a 54-year-old grandmother of one of the students of Horizon Lanka Academy said that prior to this project nobody knew about computers. Thanks to this project our grandchildren are very knowledgeable and my grandson can even speak in English said the proud grandmother. We even got an opportunity of looking at a computer thanks to HLF and the HLA.
AuxiCogent to expand BPO operation
AuxiCogent International (Pvt) Ltd, the BPO operation under the JKH umbrella has just concluded a contract with a client based in USA for 500 seats (the BPO industry pays by the seats).
In six weeks we hope to start the operation with 40-60 persons and ramp up to 500 within 6-8 months, said Group Finance Director John Keells Holdings PLC J. Ronnie F. Peiris.
He said, “we are confident that the manpower can be found within the next 6-8 months with the support and help of our Shared Services office Infomate and CSR initiative at Mahavilachchiya, a model BPO. They have to be trained and we are happy to do that.” He said that the success of the first step gives us the impetus that this model will succeed.
Some challenges are difficult to solve on our own. Therefore we will need the support of officials in the government sector to solve these issues. From the JKH point of view this is an element of an overall strategy, the first step towards establishing a Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) industry.
One of the reasons we chose the BPO industry was because Sri Lanka has the critical success factors for a BPO industry to flourish such as the supply of quality manpower, particularly in the finance and accounting fields. We may not have the numbers as in India but we certainly have quality in the limited numbers we have.
JKH looked at the numbers and the quality and decided to engage in areas we can optimise the return on the limited supply that is available in Sri Lanka in accounting. In Colombo there is a fair number but out of Colombo it is very low.
We then realised that the whole success of the BPO industry was not only based on having these higher level analytical people but also having more people who are good but may not have the analytical knowledge but who are able to support the analysis – people who can be entrusted with a fairly regular process be trained in that process and ultimately be good in that process.
You have the analytical people who are supported by the processes to give out the information. These are the repetitive processes, which are important for the success of outsourcing. You can do outsourcing in many forms. The most common form is to do a repetitive process where they analyse them and up the process which results in efficiency levels increasing by the day, he said.
JKH has a shared service named Infomate Ltd that employs 70 energetic people who are either following accountancy examinations or are graduates. They provide accountancy support to all our 70 companies.
This venture was started two-and-a-half years ago. Our companies were used as a guinea pig to understand the pros and cons which helped them to develop their skills. This is a parallel step towards entering the BPO industry. In BPO we talk to International competitors.
He said that “we at JKH don’t market a product unless we are confident and can satisfy the customer. Therefore, it would have been foolhardy to do it two-and-a-half years ago without having the experience in that area. But now with all the experience, we are confident that we can match to international standards”.
He said the opportunity we came across in Mahavilachchiya was glorious and in this day and age where connectivity was not a problem. If people are skilled or they have the potential to be trained then they can be trained. There is nothing magical about these skills as anybody with O/L or JSC can be trained.
The youth of Horizon Lanka Foundation from Mahavilachchiya have the yearning to succeed but lacked the opportunity. Therefore we were happy to give the opportunity for them to go forward. When we get involved we do it well, that has been the JKH policy.
We got the COO of Infomate involved and gave an incentive to the students during the training period. Now we pay them on a per transaction basis and we have got a tracking mechanism.
It is working extremely well and we are confident that we can expand it quite rapidly. It is not only a part of our business plan but also it enmeasures with our CSR objective.
We at JKH firmly believe that for CSR to succeed there should be a sustainable development. For this to be a reality it should get linked to your business otherwise it becomes philanthropy. We try to make it a part of our business so that with the growth of our business they also grow, he said.
For example we have the ginger farmers producing ginger for the CCC ginger beer. Similarly at Walkers Tours we arrange financing and all the people own the vehicles and they work for the various people we bring in. it is a sustainable development. Similarly in the BPO industry this is also fitted with the sustainable development program.
This showed that a massive potential exists in the country and if we can extend it to the East where there are well-educated English-speaking youth it will help solve a lot of problems in that area. The BPO operation is based on labour arbitrage and the cost difference between a low level accounts clerk in USA and Sri Lanka are 11:1.
He said the working ethics and culture in Sri Lanka are very high and strong, though modernism has to some extent eroded it. Therefore if we are really keen we can expand the BPO operation, he said.
We are no grumblers and we see and look for opportunities at every point, he said.
Horizon Lanka Foundation
Horizon Lanka Foundation (HLF) is a non profit organisation registered under the Companies Act of Sri Lanka. It has been operating since 1998 in Mahavilachchiya. The Horizon Lanka Foundation was set up in 1998 due to the determination of a group of children from the rural village of Mahavilachchiya.
Their thirst for knowledge and educational advancement led them to the door of Nandasiri Wanninayaka (now CEO of HL Foundation), their former English teacher in the public school.
Thus began an after school club providing children further education in English and computers.
It has become a popular place for many children of the village. Since 1998, the Horizon Lanka Foundation has branched out. As well as providing an all-round education to the village children at Horizon Lanka Academy, they have expanded into the Information Age and now service the entire community with their computer lab, which has 24 Internet access.
In 2001, the website http://www.horizonlanka.org was launched by the children of Horizon Lanka Academy, opening a window to the world. Horizon Lanka Foundation is also responsible for beginning a project, which is bringing PCs to the homes of the villagers of Mahavilachchiya. So far more than 30 homes have been furnished with a computer and this is increasing monthly.
Micro Scholarships is a project of the Horizon Lanka Foundation that aims to help deserving students in their education. Many capable students in rural Sri Lanka are forced to interrupt their schooling because of financial difficulties.
Micro Scholarships ensure that every child covered under the scheme gets a quality education and a happy childhood. Under it, volunteers offer financial assistance that gives the child a small amount of money every month.
Horizon Lanka has fought against all odds to bring the Information Age to the small rural village of Mahavilachchiya.
Our efforts, funded purely by kind donations and sponsorship, are now providing over 100 students of the village with computing skills, access to the Internet, PCs in their homes, an Academy to improve their education specialising in ICT and English and most importantly we are giving the children and community fresh hope for their futures. Nandasiri Wanninayaka, a villager of Mahavilachchiya assumed duties as the English teacher in Saliyamala Public School in 1997.
This visionary thinker taught English to students using very innovative methods and also encouraged the little butterflies to maintain diaries and journals daily.
This made them improve their knowledge of English and win regional competitions as well.
“I am from this village and when I went to the city I had to face many barriers due to the limited knowledge of English. This is the reason I wanted to teach these children so that they not only master it but also become tech savvy and expand their horizons. I am happy about their progress since I groomed them from grade four. Now I want to implement the project in other villages as well, said Wanni.
The day we ‘Meshed up’ Mahavilachchiya
A historical event took place today at Horizon Lanka Foundation at Mahavilachchiya. According to Mr. Nandasiri Wanninayaka, “Horizon Lanka Foundation has been creating history for the past 8 years.
” The first ever mesh network sponsored by the Pan Asia R&D Grants Program through the ICT Agency of Sri Lanka, was declared open by Mr. Lalith Weerathunga, the secretary to the President of Sri Lanka and the chairman of the Sri Lanka Telecommunications Regulatory Committee. Many distinguished guests, including Mr. Sunil C. Wijesinghe, Deputy Chairman Bartleet Group, Prianca Perera, a Director at Bartleet Group, Mr. Kithsiri Gunasekara, Managing Director of Enterprise Technology (Pvt) Ltd – the company who made this groundbreaking project a success – Mrs. Chitranganie Mubarak, Programme Manager – e-Society Development Initiative of ICTA and Mr. Chanuka Wattegama, a former veteran journalist in the field of ICT, graced the occasion.
In its press release on mesh inauguration, the Information and Communication Technology Agency of Sri Lanka (ICTA) stated, “The Mahavilachchiya e-Village with its high density of computers is a significant chapter in ICT development in the country. Over 400 rural students receive ICT education and it is the only rural Sri Lankan village with 24 hours internet connectivity. Secondary level students are now commissioned to design websites and are currently earning more than their parents who are mostly farmers. This is symbolic and a message for marginal level communities all over the world.”
Mr. Lalith Weeratunga began his eloquent speech, which mesmerized the audience, quoting from the book ‘Ignited Minds’, written by the President of India, Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam,
“Dream, dream, dream…
Dreams transform into thoughts and thoughts result in action.’’
He was referring to the man who had a dream and who was tenacious and resilient enough not to give up or look back until he made his dreams come true. The man who really transformed his dreams into thoughts, which resulted in action that overwhelmed the whole nation; Mr. Nandasiri Wanninayaka, popularly known as ‘Wanni’, is the founder of Horizon Lanka Foundation. He is the man, according to Mr. Weeratunga, who ‘inspired the spirit within the children’ of the poor remote village Mahavilachchiya where he was born. He has worked hard for a long time together with the ‘inspired’ children and they have transformed Mahavilachchiya into the first e-village in the country. Mr. Weerathunga promised to do everything possible in his official capacities to help Horizon Lanka and Mahavilachchiya, and other similar projects. He resolutely stated, “Take my word I will certainly go into this thoroughly.”
Mr. Weeratunga, went on to quote again from the preface of this book he said he specially selected for this occasion from ‘the huge collection of books’ he has accumulated over time, “I have written this book as an expression of my faith in the potential of India, and my countrymen.” He called Abdul Kalam ‘a man who loved India’. Then he said, “Let me say this; that we have faith in the potential of Sri Lanka and our countrymen. You (Wanni) have exemplified this.” Aren’t these the words of a man who loves Sri Lanka? His words, “I was offered many times to live abroad, the latest was in 1998 but I never want to leave Sri Lanka. I want to make sure that this is a place that we can be proud of.” tell us how he loves Sri Lanka, the motherland of us all.
He said that he “could have never imagined this kind of thing ever happening in Mahavilachchiya”, which he first visited in 1977. “This is not what I saw at that time 30 years ago, it was quite different and I think now I see a totally different Mahavilachchiya; you (Wanni) have taken it to a realm which I could have never imagined, not even in my wildest dreams that I could have imagined Mahavilachchiya would be like this but you have taken it not through normal routes.”
“The usual development is we build the roads, we build the small irrigation channels, we build the business opportunities of people, we build the school, we build the hospital; that is the normal kind of development that you do. We have done this for the last fifty odd years. But where have we gone? There are places where there is good infrastructure but people have not developed. There are places like Mahavilachchiya where you do not have the infrastructure, but your people are highly developed.”
Mr. Weeratunga had a proposition to make to Wanni and his team, “I think what we see here today is replicable. I want to ask your help in the creation of at least 325 e-villages because we have 325 Divisional Secretaries Divisions in this country. So at least if we can select one village per division, I think Wanni can walk us through because you have gone through the whole mill.”
Mr. Weeratunga further speculated on the issue of creating e-villages, “I invited Wanni to spearhead this whole task. Also, let Horizon Lanka be the training ground for those 325 champions that we are going to find. But you could all be the champions of champions. We have a fantastic programme in Mahinda Chinthana called ‘Gama Neguma’, which is to ensure that the village is developed in the total sense. Had I known, or had Mr. Rajapakse known about e-village concept we would have definitely put it in ‘Mahinda Chinthanaya’, I am sure. Now that you have done it, it doesn’t have to be in that book but we can always copy, we can always work with you. I don’t want to do something different; I want to learn from you. And then do it the way it has come through. This is not top driven, this is bottom driven. That is why it is a success.”
Mr. Kithsiri Gunasekara, Managing Director of ETPL, gave a presentation on mesh technology in which he described briefly but very clearly what mesh is, and the immense potential it can bring about in developing the rural life. Enterprise Technology (Pvt) Ltd. is one of the premier Network Systems Integrators in Sri Lanka who provide ICT solutions for major Sri Lankan corporations and institutions. They recently started to focus on low cost networking solutions to rural areas.
ETPL, in a recent press release, called this “a pilot project, a model from which other rural villages can also benefit.” It also says that “the villagers in rural areas will be able to gain information and be knowledgeable to help stimulate economic growth by creating new products, increasing productivity and promoting new commercial and administrative methods. In addition to economic development, this connectivity would foster social development, cohesion and inclusion, through its applications in education, health and increased citizen participation in civil society and government.” (Read the complete press release.)
According to Mrs. Chitranganie Mubarak, Programme Manager – e-Society Development Initiative of ICTA “ICTA is always behind Horizon Lanka.” She also added, “We are very proud and this is a village we sight as a model to everybody else we talk to. We are thankful to Horizon Lanka because they are the ones who opened our eyes to what is possible at village level and we have taken it to other villages.” The ICTA had extended its helping hand to Horizon Lanka on many occasions. They are the ones who gave us the internet connection and Mrs. Mubarak happily announced that they had signed the contract doubling the bandwidth, up to 256 kbps, just the day before. And the Agency was behind us in the advanced training of our senior students.
“Just giving connectivity will not be enough. We know that people need to be helped in their capacities and we have taken Nirosh and Chamila, two people from the Horizon Lanka Academy, to India on a training program. Our vision is also that these villages to take that step to become a BPO business and we funded two of them, Isuru and Nirosh, in training travel to Laos and Delhi. That has again opened up a whole range of opportunities.”
Some students of Horizon Lanka Academy made a couple of presentations using the ICT skills they have acquired at the Academy , speaking in fluent English, which proved that they can compete with students from any big school in Colombo. Mr. Sunil C. Wijesinghe commented that ‘I wouldn’t see that kind of children in Colombo.’
They said in one of their presentations, “We believe that there should be an ICT culture in Mahavilachchiya… However, our knowledge in this area is still limited but we hope to improve it in the future. Horizon Lanka’s founder, Mr. Wanninayake’s dream is to send one of the Horizon Lanka students to study at MIT in the United States. We also hope to start e-learning if someone can help us. We are helping ICT educational projects in Ampara and Monaragala now.”
They further added, “We don’t have a single mobile phone company covering Mahavilachchiya. Having listened to our request, Dialog Telekom provided mobile coverage within 50-meter radius around Horizon Lanka last year. They are going to cover the whole village soon…”
Wanni started his short but forceful speech by reminiscing how it all began, “At an e-Society exhibition held in Colombo in 2004, Mr. Chanuka Wattegama and Mr. Kithsiri Gunasekara sparked the first flame for mesh. Having heard that Mahavilachchiya is the village with the highest computer density, they suggested that mesh technology could be easily implemented in Mahavilachchiya.”
Wanni said that the biggest hurdle they faced in the implementation of the Mesh was “The problem of getting permission for the frequency. Licensing cost us a huge amount of money. We expect that the TRC would take actions to free this frequency enabling us to replicate mesh in other parts of Sri Lanka as well. I have learnt that this particular frequency is free in other countries.”
He requested the ICTA to increase the bandwidth – as they have always done in the past in responding to the growing demand- at least up to 1Mb, to accommodate the expansion of the Mesh that will take place in immediate future, with the proposed addition of new computers to the 2 schools and the small home networks that students are building in their houses, which will result in a network of more than 100 computers.
Drawing the attention to the barriers Horizon Lanka still has to overcome in launching the BPO Project Wanni said, “Our to-be-investors’ main worry was the road conditions here. We get visitors every week and they find it difficult to travel due to bad road conditions. Then he expressed his hope that, “His Excellency the President will help the village by repairing the road to Mahavilachchiya via Anuradhapura and Nochchiyagama; not to mention the roads inside the village too.”
Speaking further about the problems Horizon Lanka has to face he said that we need government intervention about the frequently fluctuating electricity in the village too.
In conclusion Wanni, with the look of the same undefeated determination one can always see on his face, assured the audience that, “If the government, and also the private sector, help us we can make Mahavilachchiya another Andra Pradesh or Bangalore using ICT.”
Hansi Sumedha, a grade 10 student of Horizon Lanka Academy called the implementing a mesh network in Mahavilachchiya ‘our mammoth achievement’ in her vote of thanks.
The sponsors for the project are,
- United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
- Asia Pacific Development Information Programme (APDIP)
- Asian Media Information and Communication Centre (AMICC)
- International Development Research Centre (IDRC)
- Asia Pacific Network Information Centre (APNIC)
- Internet Society,
- Pan Asia Networking
Partners who worked with Horizon Lanka to make this venture are the Telecom Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka, the Information and Communication Technology Agency, the Asia Media Information Centre, and Enterprise Technology (Pvt) Limited.