“We recorded an impressive top and bottom line improvements as well as completing most of our major infrastructure investments. These investments will create the platform that will elevate SLT to the next level for business expansion.”
It is with great pleasure, I am issuing this message in conjunction with the 2019 business review of the SLT Group of Companies. I would like to thank the Board of Directors for the trust placed in appointing me as the Chairman of the Board which I consider an honour as well as an exciting challenge.
It will be my resolve to lead the SLT Group to reach greater heights by harnessing its full potential in telecommunication solutions and mobilise the staff for efficiency through task based assignments. Our immediate task is to implement a strong operational platform incorporating transparency, responsibility and accountability for every member of the organisation. The newly appointed Board of Directors are determined to transform the SLT Group to take its rightful place in the corporate ladder as one of the largest and strongest companies in Sri Lanka.
There are positive aspects in our performance during the year under reference. We recorded impressive top and bottom line improvements as well as completing most of our major infrastructure investments. These investments will create the platform that will elevate SLT to the next level for business expansion. In the period under review, the Group posted a top line turnover of LKR 86 Bn. but we believe that there is potential to further improve our performance with the expansion of the Fibre to the home (FTTH) programme that is currently in place and the 5G rollout by our subsidiary, Mobitel. We would also ramp up our research and development efforts to understand what processes can be implemented to increase efficiency, determine what new technologies can be brought in, and develop new applications that would lead to reduced operational costs and maintain capital expenditure within budget.
Our human capital is one of our greatest strengths. Although interacting with several unions and nearly 10,000 directly and indirectly employed staff is a challenge, they are undoubtedly an asset with most of the staff being highly-qualified engineers and skilled technicians with long service in the Company. They possess a vast amount of experience and expertise and above all a tradition of utmost loyalty towards the establishment which will help to unleash their full potential for the development of SLT.
In the fast changing modern world, the field of telecommunication is also changing rapidly. SLT being the pioneer National telecommunication network has gone through several changes since its inception. In the recent past the organisation transformed from a state owned entity to a public-private company listed on the Colombo Stock Exchange. With the change came in modern management techniques and exposure to the world outside in acquiring technology. The company being fully aware of the potential in the field of communication is transforming further from a telecom company to a digital service provider building digital platforms connected through the fibre optic network for all essential services covering, Agriculture, Health, Trade & Commerce, Education, Judicial etc.
Service to our customers is paramount for development and expansion of our market share. With this in mind the Company has initiated the Zero Faults concept, which helps customer complaints attended to within 24 hours during working days and an app for customers to track the progress of the rectification of their complaints. FTTH will bring about many opportunities for home-based entertainment. It will empower Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises, and will also enable high quality communication in challenging times such as what we are experiencing right now, where commuting is restricted. We are also planning to unify our Teleshops under the SLT and Mobitel brands on a singular brand identity to create a sophisticated high-end franchise network for our products and services.
Fortunately, there aren’t too many challenges that we face within the Sri Lankan telecommunications industry; whereas most other countries have already reached their saturation levels, the industry in Sri Lanka is still growing and there remains plenty of potential to tap into. A majority of our rural population is still using the older 2G technology and approximately 40% of our population is using the Internet and 4G technology. The potential for growth amongst the rural communities exists, especially at a time when access to communication technologies is more affordable and essential than they have ever been. We are making inroads into these communities through our extensive fibre optic backbone infrastructure.
The rollout of 5G by our mobile arm will provide the customers a brand new experience in telecommunication despite the challenge, due to different types of equipment from 4G technology and the vast investment required for transmission.
The Board of Directors has identified the vast asset base of SLT spread across the island and a program will be developed under a special team to deploy these assets to raise revenue for the Company.
In terms of regulatory challenges, we are pushing for a policy change in number portability. This has been a restrictive policy for the longest time, not only for mobile operators but for the consumers as well. The implementation of such a policy would truly level the playing field for mobile operators and bring greater choice to consumers. The implementation of privacy laws on recording of telephone conversations, which is a criminal offense in most other countries, is something that should be looked into as well.
We hope to see substantial development and improvement of SLT in 2020. The complete focus of the Board of Directors, Senior Management, and our staff will be to work towards the singular goal of making SLT and Mobitel one of the most powerful brands in Sri Lanka. We anticipate that the future of the telecom industry in the digital era will be very much a positive one and we are hopeful for continuous future growth, despite the economic challenges and recession being seen around the globe. We will be pushing for greater social and environmental responsibility; SLT is the first Telecom service provider to receive ISO14064-1:2018 for assessment of GreenHouse Gas (GHG) emission and we hope to push the Company further in environmental protection and green growth concepts, such as looking towards solar energy for tower-based operations and further minimising our carbon footprint.
I look forward to working closely with our Board of Directors, CEO, and staff to continue SLT’s journey of transformation in 2020 and beyond. I ask our stakeholders for their continued trust, support, and patronage of our Company and to join us in looking forward to great things in the year ahead of us.
3 June 2020