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"Digital Bangladesh”- the dream of our honorable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina; the modern transformation of the Golden Bangla dreamt by the greatest Bengali of all time, our Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Without advancement in ICT, socio-economic development isn’t possible. So one decade ago the government vowed in its election manifesto to realize the vision of Digital Bangladesh within 2021. Under the excellent leadership and sincere efforts of our honourable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, the dream of Digital Bangladesh came true. Almost every citizen of the country is benefitting from the use of ICT. It wasn’t easy to reach this goal. The leader of our nation, Honorable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina declared to build Digital Bangladesh on 12 December 2008. She delcared Rupkolpo 2021. At that time, we were struggling with the adoption of ICT.
This was a revolutionary step in making the plan for building Digital Bangladesh. The main objective of establishing Digital Bangladesh is ensuring democracy, justice, transparency, accountability, corruption-free administration, quick services, and a sustainable economy. The core pillars for building Digital Bangladesh include creating a skilled workforce, developing ICT infrastructure and connectivity, establishing e-governance, taking governmental initiatives for the growth of the IT industry, making policies and plans. Digital Bangladesh is the first step towards a knowledge-based society. Digital Bangladesh is aimed at fulfilling the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s vision for independent Bangladesh. We successfully launched the red and green Bangabandhu Satellite-1 to space, its colors resembling the flag of Bangladesh. This made our country the 57th member of the elite club of satellite-owning nations. Several banks and all TV channels are using this satellite. Thirteen years ago, only 40 lakh citizens had access to the internet. The government reduced the price of the internet; presently, citizens can afford it. The internet broadband connection will be available even in the remotest parts of our country. Today, the internet reached 11 crores subscribers in Bangladesh.
The digital economy isn’t possible without an internet connection. To make digital services accessible in villages from the towns the government opened about 5000 digital service centers. From these centers, 42 crore services have been delivered. With the support of info-governance, optical fiber facilities have been built at the Upazila level. In the last 10 years, about 10 lakh people have been employed in the ICT sector. The government fixed a five billion-dollar target of exporting software and IT services. The government has undertaken several projects for IT entrepreneurs. Financial grants, working spaces, mentoring services, research opportunities, and development facilities are being provided. The government built 28 high-tech parks, many software technology parks, many IT training centers, and incubators with local and international investment to ensure the growth of the IT industry and create employment and human resources. There is no alternative to international standard research projects for driving the country to the next level. The government has established 21 specialized reacher centers at several universities and is planning on creating more to bridge the gap between industry and academy. In order to spread ICT education at the school and college levels, 4184 Sheikh Russel Digital Labs have been established and 23,331 high schools and 1500 primary schools have been equipped with multimedia classrooms. A digital platform called ‘Shikkhok Batayon’ has been created to run multimedia classrooms. With research labs, multimedia classrooms, and digital platforms, we can prepare our students with skills required for the 4th Industrial Revolution. Teachers also need advanced training, so we should keep in mind that there are qualified teachers to guide students to a bright future. The government has taken up several projects for developing human resources in the IT sector. Over 35000 people received IT training under projects for Leveraging ICT for Growth and Employment and Governance.
In the era of the 4th industrial revolution for making the IT generation suitable for facing challenges, the generation is taking courses on robotics, IoT, artificial intelligence, machine learning, blockchain, implanted reality, virtual reality, etc. The government is framing ‘National Robotics Strategy’ to leverage robots for economic growth, job protection and creation, and improved quality of life. The University of Dhaka has an undergraduate degree program in Robotics which is creating labour force in robotics. The linkage of industry and academia can play a vital role in developing necessary skilled professionals for reengineering work processes to accommodate robots. The biggest segment of our country’s population uses the mobile banking system. Access to Information (A2i), a project of the government, has undertaken several financial inclusion services. Therefore, marginalized people are getting financial services without physically being in a bank. An agricultural Digital platform called "Krishi Batayon" is helping farmers in their fields - they are receiving experts' advice, managing land, crops, fertilizer, insecticides, checking the market price of crops, etc. About one core farmers and about 20 thousand officials are involved with the "Krishi Batayon" digital platform. The government has taken several initiatives to make e-governance effective. According to a UN e-governance survey for contributions to this field, our country ranks 115 out of 150. Two surveys were conducted by the UN Economic and Social Division, which revealed that our country went beyond 35 stages and is ranked 115 out of 193 for e-governance. For information services, the 333 call center was launched. The center takes calls 24/7 for people needing government services and talking to any official, including district controllers to Upzila executive officers. By calling 999, anyone can call the police, fire services, ask for an ambulance, etc. E-tendering and procurement processes have become more streamlined through digitalization. The courts are under an e-management system. All documents of the courts are in a digital archive.
The land came under the digital recording process and digital Khotian and Porcha are on the clicks. Soon digital record rooms will be launched. The e-filing system has been initiated to increase efficiency in government services and ensure smooth services. During Covid-19 lockdowns, Digital Bangladesh played a key role in ensuring service continuity in healthcare and education, commerce and trade, and social safety net payments for the new poor. In the 2019-20 national budget, the 4th Industrial Revolution was highlighted for developing robotics and artificial intelligence technology. Our honorable Prime Minister placed emphasis on these latest technologies. They will improve the quality of life, livelihood, and income. BUET and University of Dhaka have already started working on robotic labs. Our Father of the Nation gave us an independent country through blood-shed and now his brilliant daughter, our honorable Prime Minister, has led our country to a prosperous Digital Bangladesh. This was just a dream in 2008, but it is now a reality.