In the effort to revolutionize the economic potential of the Northern Region of Sri Lanka, The Urban Development Authority (UDA) through an ambitious project is building a future-ready university and information technology (IT) park in Kankesanthurai, (KKS) Jaffna.
Chairman, UDA, Nimesh Herath (PICTURED) said, “this transformative initiative, born from collaboration between the UDA, Sri Lanka Institute of Information Technology (SLIIT), and MagickWoods Group, has the power to alter the academic landscape, create economic opportunities, and shape the future.”
He recalled that a construction of the Presidential Palace Project at Kankesanturai, Jaffana was initiated by the then government during the period of 2010 – 2015. The construction in extent of 12 Ha in a prime location in Jaffna city had been done by SL Navy and total estimated project cost was around Rs. 2 billion and was funded by the government and around 70% of the project was completed.
The project included a 111,000 Sqft conference hall, VIP accommodation, staff accommodation, dining area with all amenities with large landscaping area and car parking facilities. However after 2015, the construction was suspended due to non-availability of funds and it was under the Sri Lanka Navy.
“Subsequently, the proposed land was identified by the UDA for development of recreational and educational purposes under the Town Development Plan prepared for the Kankesanthurai area.”
In line with the vision of the government to attract foreign direct investment, especially for the Northern Region, the proposal submitted by the Sri Lanka Institute of the Information Technology (SLIIT) jointly with Canadian investor has been carefully evaluated by the UDA under the directive of President Ranil Wickremesinghe and the guidance of Minister of Urban Development & Housing Prasanna Ranathunga.
“Now the project will be funded jointly by the said two investors and 50% of the funds will be received as FDI.Under the phase I of the project, it is proposed to implement the project within the area of 12 acres of land which include 80% of the fully and partly completed buildings within the premises.”
The current market value of the building complex is approx. Rs. 3.5 billion and the investor has proposed to invest a sum of Rs. 2.5 billion for refurbishment and alterations for the proposed buildings to utilize for the purpose of University functions including new constructions.
In addition to that, substantial investment will be made for office equipment and laboratory facilities of the University and the development of a luxury hotel of star class. The proposed university while accommodating approximately 10,000 local and international students.
It will consist of modern university facilities, integrated IT park infrastructure, start-up incubator/ accelerator, marker labs/ research facilities, students & staff accommodation and a luxury hotel. These education facilities cater to a broad range of academic programs under various disciplines such as Computing, Business Management, Engineering, Bio Technology, Health Care & Hospitality. SLIIT will be the university partner for the proposed project.
According to the investment proposal submitted by the investor, the total investment is USD 50 million and out of that USD 25.00 million will be provided as the foreign direct investment. According to the project proposal, fixing of existing buildings on the premises will be incorporated with the University Master Plan. In addition to that, the investor is willing to harness the potential of the tourist activities associated with the higher education activities.
The Board of Investment of Sri Lanka has approved Northern Uni (Pvt.) Ltd., and this company will be the developer of the proposed project. The university partner of the proposed project is the SLIIT has already been approved under the University Grant Commission and Ministry of Education of Sri Lanka. The lack of an integrated information technology (IT) park and university is a longstanding need in the Northern Province and this investment fills a major void in the North and in turn, will stimulate regional economic growth, creating new jobs and opportunities for the local population.
The proposed project in KKS is more than just physical infrastructure. It is an opportunity to change the trajectory of the lives of thousands of students. In the Northern Region of Sri Lanka, over 33,000 students sit for advanced level exams and only 4,000 get an opportunity to enter state universities. The proposed project presents a significant cost advantage for students from the Northern Province, with educational expenses estimated to be up to 50% cheaper than studying in Colombo or the Western Province.
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