Rapid progress and expansion of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) through the implementation of “Digital Bangladesh” has phenomenally changed the scenario of the country, especially during Covid-19 pandemic.
The people are now getting their desired services through digital platforms, students are learning online, farmers in remote areas can learn the prices of their farm products. Record keeping and financial, administrative, judicial and many other auxiliary services as well are now obtained through using IT.
Experts said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s son Sajeeb Wazed Joy, also Prime Minister’s ICT Affairs Advisor, is working hard to mentor the process of outlining strategies for reaping real benefits of digital Bangladesh under the visionary leadership of the prime minister.
Muhammad Mahboob Ali, a IT expert and Professor of Dhaka School of Economics, told the Bangladesh Post that digital technology can contribute to a lot to overcoming the Covid-19 pandemic situation.
“Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her ICT advisor Sajeeb Wazed Joy are working relentlessly to make the country digital,” he said.
“But we need to develop and strengthen our digital technology further. However, thanks to the dynamic leadership of our prime minister, the country’s overall scenario has changed despite the coronavirus crisis,” he said.
He suggested the use of more innovation and creativity in digitalising the country.
The National Helpline 333 has been providing government information and services including delivery of relief, health care, daily necessities through a phone service. Corona virus Portal has been created, through which information about Covid-19 has been provided to millions of people. The e-document system introduced in government offices has made service activities more dynamic. More than three million e-documents have been completed during the Corona pandemic.
About 5,668 classes have been broadcast online and about 5,086 teachers are involved in educational activities during emergencies.
KrishakBandhu (3331 call centre) is working as a call centre for various agri services of the government. As a result, farmers are easily able to receive various services at home.
ICT state minister Zunaid Ahmed Palak said, “The e-government programme digitized the way of providing traditional services existing since the British colonial period. The national database of more than 52,000 websites includes more than 6.44 lakh thematic content and more than 600 services, which are easily accessible online. About 600 million services are provided from about 6,000 digital centres, a significant number of which are from rural areas.”
“By 2025, when 100 percent of government services will be available online, it will be easy to estimate time, cost and travel savings for citizens. As many as 15 million files are disposed of in e-documents. So far, about 26 lakh e-mutations have been made online,” the state minister added.
As the Covid-19 interrupted trade, business, and regular government and non-government activities across the country since March, the scenario changed dramatically with the distinctive rise of e-commerce, e-learning and other activities through internet.
Experts suggested that online trade, business and learning have been shown to increase retention of information, and take less time to perform the activities.
By 2023, the domestic e-commerce market could reach 25,000crore. In addition, there are more than 50,000 Facebook-based entrepreneurs involved in handing over more than 30,000 products. Of these, 12,000 pages are run by women. ‘Ekshop’ has been set up to promote e-commerce in rural and marginal areas of the country, where marginal manufacturers are able to sell their products without any intermediaries.
Besides, in the wake of Covid-19 outbreak, people are getting treatment and mental health therapy thorough online. Out of 16.29crore cell phones some 101186,000 consumers are now using internet in the country. The netizens are also getting financial, e-commerce, ride sharing and other emergency services.
Besides, the government plans to introduce 5G network in the country. Post and Telecommunications minister MostafaJabbar on Saturday at a virtual meeting said, “Experimental 5G services will be launched in the country by December this year. Besides, the 5G spectrum will be auctioned for other mobile phone operators in December. As a result, other operators will be able to launch 5G next year.”
The World Economic Forum (WEF) report shows that the country’s socio-economic disparities in rural areas are shrinking through mobile banking services. In reality, the inclusion of people in financial services through information technology has increased.
In particular, most of the non-mobile banking services (about 60 per cent) have been extended to people (mostly rural people). The number of registered customers in the mobile banking sector, which was launched 10 years ago, has increased to 96.4 million and in October 2020, the transactions increased to Tk 53,258crore and in April 2021 to Tk 63,479crore.
About one million young people are working on various online freelancing platforms in the country and about 6.5 million Bangladeshi freelancers are working on Business Process of Outsourcing (BPO).
At present, there are about 1.5 thousand startups in the country. Most of them are managed by young people. The investment in the startup is about USD 300 million.
The country’s ICT exports exceeded USD 1 billion in 2016. Bangladesh ranks second in online labour force. About 7.5 million freelancers are earning about USD 300 million from the outsourcing sector. Out of 39 High-Tech / IT parks, local and foreign investors have already started business in seven of them.
Bangladesh became the 57th satellite- owner country of the world through the launch of the Bangabandhu space satellite.
However, post and telecommunication minister expressed his optimism that another satellite will be launched soon.