Hiren Pandit: Digital Bangladesh to Smart Bangladesh. Basically, it is a concept and strategy, which is being and will be implemented phase by phase by the current government. On December 12, 2008, Digital Bangladesh was announced as the foundation of ‘Vision-2021’. Comprehensive and multi-faceted development was initiated by formulating and implementing one plan after another, simultaneously taking up multiple mega projects.
As per the election promise, the government has already provided broadband connectivity across the country and launched satellite Bangabandhu-1 into space. The second satellite Bangabandhu-2 is in progress. Currently, 18 crore 60 lac mobile sims are being used by 17 crore people and 13 crore people are connected to the internet through broadband and mobile internet.
Today’s age is the digital age. Digital Bangladesh implemented by Govt. Fiber optic has been provided to remote areas of Bangladesh. Can be contacted online. Digital system is most useful in our fight against Covid. Bangladesh’s digital activities have gained momentum with the launch of Bangabandhu Satellite-1. So, we have to use digital devices for everything now. The technology that people are using today means that the whole world has come within the reach of everyone through technology. People are getting a chance to know the world. Bangladesh is no longer in the dark. Children of our country are contributing to the world now. It is the greatest contribution of technology. Bangladesh is advancing with technology. We have been quite successful in using modern technology. At the same time, with the importance given to the use of modern technology, Bangladesh has achieved considerable success. The policymakers said that the government’s next goal is to build a smart Bangladesh and a smart nation. There is no alternative to using advanced technology to achieve the goal of building a Smart Bangladesh. Digital connectivity will be the main tool in front of us to turn the country into a ‘Smart Bangladesh’.
Under the leadership of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu, Bangladesh became a member of the important International Telecommunication Union-ITU on 5 September 1973 among the 15 organizations of the United Nations. Earth-resource technology satellite program for the socio-economic survey and meteorological data exchange was implemented under his direction. On June 14, 1975, Bangabandhu inaugurated the Satellite Earth Station at Betbunia. He gives importance to science, technology and technical education. A scientist like Kudrat-e-Khuda headed the Education Commission report and included the goal of using technology in education in the first Five Year Plan of Bangladesh as a very well-thought-out and visionary initiative. Just looking at the various initiatives and activities undertaken in the expansion and development of information and communication technology, it can be seen that the foundation of a modern science-minded technology-based Bangladesh was created by the hands of Bangabandhu, which shows the way for Bangladesh to participate in the digital revolution.
Digital connectivity is the key to building a smart Bangladesh. Digital connectivity is the foundation for smart citizens, smart economy, smart government and society. The government wants to make Bangladesh economically prosperous by ensuring maximum use of digital technologies including artificial intelligence, the internet, virtual reality, augmented reality, robotics and big data. The young generation is now dreaming of building a ‘Smart Bangladesh’. After Bangabandhu Satellite-1 was launched into orbit in 2018, a revolutionary change in the broadcasting and telecommunication sector occurred.
Bangladesh earns a lot of foreign exchange by using unused satellite frequencies and is now the proud 57th member of the world’s satellite family. Steps have been taken to deploy Bangabandhu Satellite-2 with multi-purpose capabilities to realize the goal of building a ‘Smart Bangladesh’. Bangladesh is going to lay the third submarine cable by 2024. Because the first and second submarine cables have already been laid. Bangladesh has achieved 3400 Gbps bandwidth capacity so far. The bandwidth capacity will be increased to 7200 Gbps by the end of 2023. This will increase to 13,200 Gbps after the third submarine cable is laid. Bangladesh earns USD 4.81 million per year by leasing bandwidth to Saudi Arabia, France, Malaysia and India. Optical fiber cables have been laid all over the country up to the Union level.
Meanwhile, 10 GB capacity has been assured in each union, which is helping to provide high-speed internet to people and government offices. A total of 8600 post offices have been digitized across the country. Work has begun to address the digital divide and price differential of broadband internet between rural and urban areas. The government has introduced a common tariff of one country, one rate across the country for providing telecommunication networks to remote and inaccessible areas. Bangladesh Association (ASOCIO)-2022 has been conferred with the award in recognition of introducing a single rate tariff system without discrimination across the country.
The government is working on the successful implementation of 4 pillars to build Smart Bangladesh. These are Smart Citizens, Smart Economy, Smart Government and Smart Society. In addition to this, 2100 Delta Plans have been undertaken. In Smart Bangladesh, all work will be done through technology, where every citizen will be proficient in using technology. Through this, overall economic activities will be managed – with the ultimate goal of a cashless society. The government has already taken various initiatives in the field of skilled human resource development, ICT infrastructure and connectivity, e-government and industry promotion in the country. Satellite Bangabandhu-2 is preparing for launch. Aiming to provide 100% government services online by 2025. A startup ecosystem has been developed in the country. A separate fund has been allocated in the national budget for this.
Apart from this, grants are being given by creating Startup Circle under Idea Project, Bangabandhu Innovation Grant (BIG), and Centenary Shata Asha. The government has formulated guidelines for the management of venture capital companies named Startup Bangladesh Limited for investment. Bangladesh ranks first among South Asian and SAARC countries in the cyber security index. The government is already moving forward with the policy of developing the country’s villages into cities with modern facilities. Where the village
Nature and environment above all cultivation, fruit, vegetable garden, and farm can be found along with gas-electricity-water and all information technology-based facilities. However, every citizen has special responsibilities and duties in building and implementing Smart Bangladesh.
Every citizen needs to develop himself as a skilled human resource to meet the challenges of the fourth industrial revolution. Everyone has to be responsible from their position to family, society and state. Otherwise, the benefits of Smart Bangladesh will not be fully and fully achieved.
Pointing out the need for smart citizens to build a smart Bangladesh, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina urged today’s youth and children to develop human qualities. The aim of Smart Bangladesh is to create a smart population. Care must be taken to ensure that the new generation grows up with humane and compassionate feelings toward others. Everyone should have human qualities. Be sympathetic to those who are handicapped or disabled.
The Prime Minister said we have given importance to computer education. Smart people are needed to build a smart Bangladesh. We have taken measures so that they can learn it from childhood. We have also taken the initiative to develop the skills of students and teachers by applying the ‘Learning Approach’ program to teach computer coding to elementary students.
In this way, on the one hand, as we have arranged for children to be educated and skilled, the new generation of today will be the smart population of tomorrow, who will build this country. There is no alternative to advancing the ongoing struggle to build smart citizens, smart nations, smart economies and smart societies by 2041. With the aim of building a smart Bangladesh, along with the government, socio-cultural organizations including the youth should come forward to inspire the new generation of young people to acquire technology skills.
The government wants to make the future Bangladesh a smart Bangladesh, where every manpower will be smart. Everyone will learn to do everything online, the economy will be an e-economy, where the entire money management will be done on digital devices. ‘Our education, health, employability’ will all be through e-governance. Digital devices will be used in everything including e-education, and e-health. We will be able to do that by 2041 and work is going on with that in mind.
The government has set a target to build a ‘Smart Bangladesh’ by 2041. Work on this has already started. About one crore people are working abroad in different countries of the world. 88 percent of whom have no training, that is, about 7.6 million expatriates have no job training. The remaining 12 percent of expatriates have received training in any of the four – technical education, language, computer and driving. Among the expatriates, the number of doctors, engineers, teachers and degree holders in vocational education is very low.
The fourth industrial revolution is now coming to the fore in the world. Keeping this fourth industrial revolution in mind, the government is creating our skilled manpower. Especially when the government is committed to inclusive development by ‘Leaving No One Behind’ in light of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Sustainable development, reducing inequality, safe work and responsible consumption and production are key challenges to implementing and achieving the SDGs. Along with the education system, various technical and online technical skills are creating various jobs. Platforms like ‘Kishore Batayan’ and ‘Shikshak Batayan’ have been developed in collaboration with a2i to make education easier.
As technology has become accessible to every citizen of the country, technology-based services are being made available to marginalized groups. Technology has become a trusted medium in all citizen services and lifestyles. To cope with the fourth industrial revolution, the information technology sector of Bangladesh has emphasized various infrastructural developments including the development of skilled human resources. Bangladesh is striving to be among the top 50 countries in the United Nations e-Governance Development Index in the next five years.
If the data protection law is passed, foreign authorities including Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter will be forced to have offices in this country and keep the country’s information in the country’s data center. Creating a kind of awareness among the people, making Bangladesh suitable for leading the fourth industrial revolution and creating skilled manpower is going on. The invention of the telegraph, telephone, radio, and television gave impetus to the strong desire of people to spread information. In the mid-twentieth century, computers and later wireless technologies revolutionized information storage and dissemination. In today’s dotcom era, the entire world has literally become a ‘global village’.
Reskilling, upskilling and deskilling methods should be kept in mind. Existing learning programs should be accompanied by other digital-based systems, such as e-learning and online learning systems. That is, educational programs should be designed to develop technically skilled manpower.
Hiren Pandit is a columnist and a researcher