Opinion: Ranil Wickremesinghe + Elon Musk = Optimism for Sri Lanka

Elon Musk with Sri Lanka's President Ranil Wickremesinghe and his Climate Advisor Ruwan Wijewardene

June 1, 2024 (LBO) - A few weeks ago Sri Lankan media was abuzz with news of a meeting between President Ranil Wickremesinghe and the world's richest and most famous person Elon Musk. When the photographs actually surfaced of the meeting, facilitated by the President's Climate Advisor and Deputy Leader of the UNP Ruwan Wijewardene, the Sri Lankan political world was dumbstruck.

Normally there is a significant group in the opposition which is critical of every move the President makes, however this time there was silence, even likely a grudging admiration for what the President’s team pulled off.

A public meeting with Elon Musk is the type of thing that every politician covets. From U.S. President Donald Trump, to British PM Rishi Sunak, to Macron and Meloni, any G7 leader jumps at the opportunity for interaction with Musk.

Image

A meeting with Musk is a chance for politicians to align themselves with technology, investment, youth and the dream of space. This time it was Ranil’s turn, and the meeting went as well as one could ask. The two discussed geopolitics, technology, history and of course the deliverable of the conversation Starlink. Starlink, engineered and owned by SpaceX, is Musk’s global satellite based internet service. The service aims to cover the whole world, making high speed internet accessible to everyone on earth.

The President agreed to expedite the launch of Starlink in Sri Lanka, and even invited Elon Musk to come to Sri Lanka for its launch. Make no mistake, if Elon Musk comes to Sri Lanka he will likely be the most important person ever to set foot on our soil. Anyone who would dispute this assertion, I would dare to say, does not have a clear understanding of technology and the global economy.

Elon Musk’s potential visit to Sri Lanka will put the country on the front page of the world. Most people in the world don’t know much about Sri Lanka. We are a relatively small country with only a niche place in the world. This goes against the flawed nationalist view that Sri Lanka is the centre of the universe, however it is reality.

Sri Lanka is small, and relatively unknown but, thanks to President Ranil Wickremesinghe, it is important enough for the richest most famous person in the world to visit with an agenda of technology and optimism.

Elon Musk’s primary objective in coming to Sri Lanka will be to launch Starlink. Starlink will allow Sri Lanka to join other countries in embracing the cutting edge of internet technology. It will cover the whole country with the internet, brining or enhancing coverage for millions of people.

As is usually the case in Sri Lanka, there has emerged critics of Starlink and its potential in Sri Lanka. Many say its too expensive and not relevant for our population. This is a very backward looking viewpoint. Starlink technology will get significantly cheaper over time, as mass adoption globally takes place. Sri Lankans will also get wealthier over time, increasing their need for high speed internet in order to compete and flourish in the world economy. Even in todays market, connections could be shared by schools, and possibly even subsidised by charitable organisations. Like it or not, Starlink is the future. Saying it is not relevant to Sri Lanka is a backward looking viewpoint.

Along with Elon’s Starlink agenda, it would be fantastic if the government of Sri Lanka could tap into Musk’s energy companies. Solar and battery storage could be transformational for Sri Lanka’s power grid, and Tesla Energy is at the forefront of those technologies.

Then there are also the intangibles. The media exposure, excitement, and optimism that a Musk visit would bring to Sri Lanka. With political campaigns in Sri Lanka so focused on the negative, it would be a breath of fresh air to present a modern technology based spirt of optimism to the population. Sometimes a push of optimism and momentum is needed to jumpstart an economy.

Sri Lanka has been through a lot of crises. The people need to believe that a better future is around the corner. That Sri Lanka can ride the global technology wave to prosperity and advancement. This spark of optimism and hope is a most immediately relevant part of an Elon Musk visit.

Starlink and electrification of Sri Lanka are inevitable, it is just a question of time. Hopefully the government can speed up their implementation which will yield significant dividends in the years to come. But what about right now?

Sri Lanka is in need of a positivity shot in the arm ASAP.

An Elon Musk visit is just what the doctor ordered.

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
1 Comment
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Shahvane Weeraman
Shahvane Weeraman
15 days ago

I wonder whether Elon would explore Sri Lanka and give starlink to every district

Last edited 15 days ago by Shahvane Weeraman
Top
1
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x