September 22, 2016Michael Sutherland-Shaw
When looking to the future, what’s one thing most countries can agree on?
The answer: Going digital.
And one country looking to make a splash is the south Asian nation of Bangladesh. Earlier this month, Sajeeb Wazed, Bangladesh’s chief information technology advisor wrote an open letter for media network, Diplomatic Courier, explaining how his country is working towards widespread digitization.
In 2021, Bangladesh will celebrate 50 years of independence and with that the government has put together a number of development goals, known as “Vision 2021“.
Wazed said, chief among these goals is the eradication of poverty and inequality, ensuring governance and sound institutions, as well as promoting innovation in a knowledge-based society.
“Bangladesh is determined to transform itself into a technologically advanced society and, in that way, an effective player in an increasingly complicated world, writes Wazed. “Its “Digital Bangladesh” goals envision accelerated development of information and communications technology in both the public and private spheres. Programs long underway are already making many facets of society more transparent and accountable helping to boost the Bangladesh economy.”
No greater example of this is the fact more than 35% of Bangladeshis now have access to government services online.
So how else is the Government of Bangladesh going digital?
If you ask Wazed this includes the government establishing more than 5,000 digital centres around the country. These centres provide services like computer training, mobile banking, and job listings online. In addition, 8,000 post offices are set to be transformed into digital centres.
Lastly, the government recently opened a 60,000 square-foot software technology park, which aims to connect start-up tech businesses with each other. In July 2016, Bangladesh opened its first “IT Incubator Centre” which is expected to create more than 100,000 jobs in the coming years.
The Digital Bangladesh has also played a major role in the diversification of Bangladesh’s economy. Bangladesh is no longer dependent on the textile industry, with total exports of the information and communications technology from Bangladesh growing to more than $300 million annually. To help that number grow, the government plans to train 75,000 information technology professionals.
So the Government of Bangladesh has established digital centres, diversified its economy, but what about the future? Will the country have enough qualified individuals to fill these positions?
According to Wazed, the answer is yes. This starts with education.
“The government has set up multimedia and digital classrooms and computer labs in each of the country’s 170,000 educational institutions. Today, there are 23,300 multimedia classrooms. In addition, 24,122 teachers have begun training on the equipment,” writes Wazed.
Bangladesh also aspires to become a source of technology outsourcing. The country, which graduates 10,000 students from computer science programs each year, sees these young, highly-skilled workers as the future and lifeblood of its diverse economy.
And what lies ahead? According to Wazed, by 2021, the government plans to strengthen its technology infrastructure, digitize the judiciary and launch Internet-equipped buses. In addition, a new project called “Info Lady” will introduce technological training to rural women in all corners of the nation.
“Digital Bangladesh” may seem like a tough task going forward, but with a desire to innovate and a supportive government, widespread digitization is definitely possible.
With this, not only is the Government of Bangladesh embracing the Fourth Industrial Revolution, but it’s improving governance and creating a better country for its citizens.
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