HomeBreakingGiving WiFi to the villages using Elon Musk's Starlink is almost done

    Giving WiFi to the villages using Elon Musk’s Starlink is almost done

    President Ranil Wickramasinghe said that the program of providing job opportunities to unemployed youth will be started after the country is freed from bankruptcy this year.

    President Ranil Wickramasinghe expressed these views while attending the Jaffna District Youth Conference organized by the National Youth Service Council at Duraiappah Stadium, Jaffna the day before yesterday (24).

    The opportunity was also provided to address the needs and problems of the youth of Jaffna area directly to the President.

    Hon. President, there are reports that Elon Musk, a prominent global entrepreneur, plans to visit Sri Lanka. How will this benefit the youth?

    I’ve had discussions with Elon Musk regarding the integration of the global ‘Starlink’ network with Sri Lanka. This initiative aims to address the Wi-Fi connectivity issues, particularly in areas outside Colombo. Additionally, we explored the potential of solar energy and other renewable energy sources in our country. I extended an invitation for him to collaborate on significant projects in Sri Lanka. Furthermore, the Telecommunication Regulatory Commission has been tasked with assessing the ‘Starlink’ network, with most of the preliminary work already completed. We are awaiting feedback from the Ministry of Defence to proceed with approval.

    Addressing the event President Ranil Wickremesinghe commented:

    It was mentioned today that there is a significant amount of unused land in the Northern Province. This unused land is not only in Jaffna but also in other parts of Sri Lanka. These lands have not been utilized for cultivation. In the distant past, our country’s agriculture was at an export level. During the Anuradhapura period, Sri Lanka exported grain and later, crops such as tea, coffee, cinnamon, and rubber were major exports. However, these export activities have stalled.

    Therefore, agriculture should be modernized, and efforts should be made to re-establish an export economy. The youth should also be given the opportunity to engage in agriculture. We aim for the government and private companies to jointly introduce smart agriculture to the villages. This will significantly enhance Sri Lanka’s ability to earn foreign currency. Last week, I joined an observation tour in the Kegalle area, where I witnessed first-hand an entrepreneur utilizing modern agricultural techniques. It is essential to say that the country needs more of such entrepreneurs.

    Utilizing 5000 square feet of land through modern agriculture holds the potential for significant income generation. Presently, modern agricultural methods can yield approximately eight metric tons of paddy per hectare, fostering both an export-oriented economy and one resilient against collapse.

    Furthermore, the government has prioritized tourism development while also emphasizing renewable energy and energy exports. Regions like Kilinochchi, Mannar and Jaffna boast wind power potential, with plans underway to produce gigawatts of electricity, not just megawatts. Solar panel installations on tanks, particularly Poonaryn and Iranamadu, are part of this initiative, enhancing the Northern Province’s renewable energy capacity.

    Moreover, efforts are underway to establish Asia’s largest solar panel battery, capable of generating 700 MW, marking just the initial phase. These endeavours position the North to emerge as Asia’s primary hub for renewable energy production, emphasizing the imperative for expanded electricity generation in the energy sector’s forward trajectory.

    Hence, we’ve inked agreements with India’s Adani Company to spearhead renewable energy generation. A dedicated investment zone is slated for development, centred around the Cement Corporation site in Kankasanthurai, with plans for another in the Mankulam area. Safeguarding our seas for the benefit of our fishermen is paramount, alongside modernizing the fishing industry.

    Over the past four years, Sri Lanka’s economy endured significant setbacks, causing considerable hardship for its people. Presently, the nation is on the path to recovery from bankruptcy. Post-recovery, concerted efforts will be made to provide employment opportunities for the unemployed youth. The Economic Transformation Law Bill has already been tabled in Parliament, aiming to pivot towards an export-oriented economy. It’s our aspiration to compete with export-based economies like those of Vietnam, Malaysia and Thailand, fostering sustainable economic growth.

    Furthermore, in response to your request, I’ve instructed the Chairman of the National Youth Service Council to arrange a grand concert featuring South Indian artists in Jaffna within the coming two months. Our government remains steadfast in its commitment to revitalize the nation’s economy from bankruptcy and uplift the living standards of its people.

    Below are some of the questions posed to the President by the youth, and President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s responses:

    Hon. President, the shortage of drinking water has become a significant concern in the north. I urge you to provide a solution to address this issue.

    To address the drinking water shortage in the north, the government has initiated a new project aimed at purifying seawater through desalination. This Desalination Project is scheduled to commence in June. While the Northern Province experiences ample water availability at times, there are severe shortages during certain periods. It’s imperative to devise strategies to manage these fluctuations effectively. It’s worth noting that this issue is not confined to the north alone; similar challenges exist in some southern regions as well. Reports indicate that by 2050, there will be a decrease in rainfall in dry zones while precipitation will increase in wet zones, leading to water abundance. We are actively exploring solutions to mitigate these challenges, recognizing that climate change poses complex problems not only for us but for many nations worldwide.

    Hon. President, given the widespread unemployment, could you implement an interest-free loan scheme for self-employment?

    Unemployment is a pressing issue not only in Jaffna but across the nation. Over the past years, the country has faced economic challenges leading to a lack of job opportunities. However, efforts are underway to revive the economy and overcome bankruptcy by the end of this year. Agreements with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have been finalized to facilitate this recovery process. As part of our long-term vision, we aim to transition to an export-oriented economy over the next 5-10 years. Legislation to support this transformation will be introduced in Parliament between June and July. Despite the economic downturn experienced last year, once the country emerges from bankruptcy in 2024, we plan to extend concessional loans through the banking system to support self-employment initiatives.

    The presence of Minister Douglas Devananda, Northern Province Governor Mrs. P. S. M. Charles, Chairman/Director General of the National Youth Service Council Pasindu Gunaratne, and numerous young individuals further enriched the discussion.

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