Hambantota IT Park : prospects, opportunities and challenges
The government of Sri Lanka has big plans for the improvement of the IT sector with targets of making it into a $1 billion industry by 2016. Dubbed incorrectly (AFAIK ‘Orion City‘ came about in 2007-08) as the ‘first IT park in Sri Lanka’, ‘Hambantota IT park’ seems to be an infrastructure in place to partially fulfill the said objective.
At a glance:
Proposed area for IT park: 5000 acres (approx. 20 million sq meters)
Significant landmarks in Hambantota vicinity: Shangri-La Resort and Spa, Sooriyawewa cricket stadium, Hambantota Magam Ruhunupura International Port, Hambantota International Airport, Ranmihitenna Tele Cinema Village, Bundala National Park, Hambantota Wind Farm
p.s – If there are any other landmarks of interest,development that I have missed, do comment below
With money being pumped into the area by the government without any objection since its spearheaded (with help from certain ghost advisors/consultants) by the president’s son, Namal Rajapaksa , the IT park could very well sit in the midst of a developed fully fetched modern city with connected road networks (highway connection from Matara by 2016E) to Colombo. With the new 2nd airport in Sri Lanka located in Hambantota, there might not even be a need to travel to Katunayake for foreign investors/consultants.
Employment opportunities directly and indirectly would increase with the development of the IT park. The government estimates an addition of 50,000 employment opportunities. Foreign investments would flow into the country, local entrepreneurs could flourish, encourages the masses (with the youth in Hambantota richly benefiting) in working on skilled jobs, indirectly improves the education sector with private schools being based to fulfill the needs of the workforce who relocate with family… all of this seems like the IT park could be a gold mine. It could be, as long as the challenges are met.
Is it really viable for an IT park to be located in a place like Hambantota? Would the professional IT personal be willing to work outside of Colombo, possibly relocating? Would investors pick the Colombo based IT park ‘Orion city’ instead? Would the hot climate in Hambantota act as a hindrance? Would the ‘possibility’ of an unstable government give second thoughts for investors? (since these high fetched plans and developments in Hambantota are possible only till the Rajapaksas’ stay in power). These would be just a few questions that would have to be raised with regard to a successful IT park in Hambantota.
The future for Sri Lanka:
All in all, the ideas and action for such projects, and paying due diligence to an educated skilled society by the government would no doubt drive the country towards a sustainable platform in which to compete globally while residing in the pearl of the Indian Ocean… which in my humble opinion is a dream for any Sri Lankan.