A recent national survey conducted by LIRNEasia, a regional policy think tank, showed that 44% of Sri Lanka’s population aged 15 and above were internet users in 2021. Internet use was lower amongst the rural, elderly, less educated and poorer groups. Those residing in rural areas, for example, were 19% less likely to be online than their peers residing in urban areas (Figure 1).
Figure 1: Internet use of population aged 15+ by demographic/economic/geographic groups
“Concerted efforts should be made to bring and keep those at the margins online,” Senior Research Manager, Gayani Hurulle of LIRNEasia, stated. “These include ensuring that high-quality, affordable internet is available to all, and digital skills of users are built to allow for productive, responsible and safe internet use.”
The survey findings were released at a virtual launch event conducted on 8 December 2021, which included a panel discussion with leading government, private sector and civil society representatives. Panelists included Oshada Senanayake (Director General, Telecommunications Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka & Chairman, ICT Agency of Sri Lanka), L. Ilaangovan, Secretary of Education, Cultural Affairs, Sports and Youth Affairs of the Northern Provincial), Jiffry Zulfer (Founder and CEO, PickMe), Karin Fernando (Team Leader for Sustainable Development, CEPA) and Gayani Hurulle (Senior Research Manager, LIRNEasia). The discussion was moderated by Rohan Samarajiva (Chair, LIRNEasia).