The Sri Lanka's Telecentre (Nenasala) Project, initiated in January 2004 and successfully completed by December 2016, stands as a remarkable endeavor to address the digital gap in the country's rural communities. This initiative was born out of the understanding that access to Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) can significantly impact poverty reduction, education improvement, better healthcare, reduced disparities, and overall economic growth. However, rural areas were often left isolated due to financial restrictions preventing them from embracing the digital world.
The main objective of the project was to empower rural communities in Sri Lanka by addressing the digital gap. It established community-based ICT centers, Nenasala telecentres, providing affordable access to computers, the internet and related services. The project aimed to empower underserved groups like farmers, students, SMEs, women, youth, and marginalized groups by harnessing ICT's potential for personal and professional development. Strategically located and equipped telecentres offered training programs, creating a good environment for learning and growth.
The scope of Sri Lanka's Telecentre (Nenasala) Project encompassed the establishment of 1000 Nenasala Telecentres across various rural areas in the South, North, and East of Sri Lanka. These telecentres were intended to provide the local population with affordable community access to ICT. The scope involved equipping these telecentres with necessary ICT infrastructure such as computers, printers, webcams, high-speed internet connections, telephones, fax machines, and photocopiers.
This Project significantly improved ICT literacy in targeted communities, leading to increased adoption of computers, laptops, internet connectivity, scanners, and webcams. This demonstrates the community's recognition of ICT's value in enhancing livelihoods and embracing more convenient and cost-effective technologies. However, advanced services like e-health, e-commerce, and e-banking were not yet widely used by the rural community. The project laid the foundation for a shift towards digital inclusion and empowerment within these communities.