Smart Bangladesh by 2041: Ensure digital access to all

Hiren Pandit: Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has been taking Bangladesh to a unique height by building Digital Bangladesh along the path, the foundation of which Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman laid. Digital Bangladesh is a development philosophy of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, which has been proven in the course of more than an era.

Now Prime Minister is leading the Smart Bangladesh-2041 vision to establish Bangladesh as a knowledge-based economy and an innovative nation in the implementation of Smart Bangladesh by 2041. With the aim of building Smart Bangladesh by 2041, work is underway to establish Smart Citizen, Smart Economy, Smart Society and Smart Government in the light of 4 pillars.

Discrimination is a word we are naturally familiar with. We hear the words financial inequality, social inequality, or political inequality all the time. In this era of extreme advancement in technology, we are seeing a new inequality and that is digital inequality. There is no denying that technology has changed the lives of countless people. However, many people are being deprived of the benefits of using technology, which must also be accepted.

Normal life has been disrupted in almost every country of the world during this coronavirus last two years. Many countries have made their daily activities online to ensure personal and financial security.

To meet the challenges of digital technology, besides making the internet affordable and accessible, the initiative has been taken to make smartphones accessible to the common people at the lowest price, according to government sources. A single country of Internet has already been launched.

Appropriate digital connectivity and digital devices are essential for building Bangabandhu’s Sonar Bangla.

From the need to develop students as human resources with digital skills, there is already a provision of reading through digital content without books at the primary level. If students are not given the opportunity to acquire digital skills, they will not be able to survive in the future world. In addition to increasing internet usage, people now expect high internet speeds.

In 2006, the price of internet per Mbps in the country was 78 thousand takas, in 2008 it was 27 thousand takas and currently it is fixed at 60 taka. At that time only seven and a half Gbps bandwidth was used in the country which has increased to 38 hundred Gbps today.

The ICT Division is responsible for implementing self-employment-based training programmes under the Digital Inclusion for Vulnerable Exception initiative to bring marginalized communities into the mainstream of development.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina announced Digital Bangladesh Vision 2021 on December 12, 2008. Digital Bangladesh Vision-2021 is a reality today. In this continuation, the goal is to establish Smart Bangladesh as a developed and prosperous country by 2041 through the transition to a knowledge-based economy.

Now there is no field where the application of internet technology is not required. Internet technology has created new economic opportunities in the country.

Many of us have heard in different ways – during the Corona period, many students had to go far away from home to participate in online classes; many people had to go to class even after climbing the tree. These are just reflections of the problems created by the digital divide. We may see more negative aspects of digital inequality in the future.

If we look at today’s big business media, it will be seen that a good part of them has become online dependent. We all know about Google, Amazon, Alibaba, Facebook etc. These companies are doing billion-dollar online business. Online shopping has also started in our country. Many people will advance in this century by using technology. However, there are many people, who will be deprived of technology benefits. There is no doubt that various economic and social inequalities will increase further.

Steps must be taken to eliminate the digital divide. A just society should be built. Steps like making the internet available, developing technology-related infrastructure, and making people tech-literate will play a good role in curbing digital inequality. The use of information technology as an aid to poverty alleviation also contributes to social justice by ensuring good governance, quality education, healthcare and security.

However, in the building of Smart Bangladesh by 2041, several limitations are also coming in front of everyone. Mainly the poor and disadvantaged population, those living in rural areas, who do not have the necessary digital devices or connectivity, or lack the necessary information and skills to access the services, are excluded or continue to lag behind.

Inequality in technology exacerbates the existing inequality among the people of the country. It is already a difficult reality in our class-divided society that everyone does not get equal opportunities in public and private services.

Now it is important to implement this policy and specific initiatives should be taken for this. First of all information technology should be taken to the doorstep of all people. For this reason, government initiatives should be taken to create the necessary infrastructure in information technology, private institutions should be encouraged. Besides, initiatives should be taken to make information technology available to poor people and women at a low cost.

It has been decided to implement 14 action plans to implement the government’s next vision ‘Smart Bangladesh-2041’. As the implementation of digital education, digital health care, digital agriculture etc. has been confirmed under the concept of Digital Bangladesh 2021, the main components under ‘Smart Bangladesh by 2041’ will be smart education, smart health care, smart agriculture, smart trade, smart transportation etc.

In the development of information technology, the government launched 5G internet services in the country in 2021 and in the same year installed cable or satellite networks in Haor-Beel-Char and hilly areas. A third submarine cable will be connected in 2023.

Basically, the fourth industrial revolution is spreading through the connection of artificial intelligence with the Internet. According to stakeholders, the government has done most of the necessary preparations for digital connectivity to firmly tackle the fourth industrial revolution or beyond.

The government is gradually moving towards the fourth industrial revolution by emphasizing the development of industries through the development of advanced technologies, the creation of a trained workforce and the preservation of the environment.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina emphasized developing skilled manpower for the fourth industrial revolution and urged for further increase in science and technology education and the research sector to develop skilled manpower. The world is moving forward.
Hiren Pandit is a researcher and columnist

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