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ICT aims to make smart Bangladesh

Published : 30 Dec 2022 11:03 PM | Updated : 31 Dec 2022 04:14 PM

Bangladesh government has already been able to build digital Bangladesh and now aiming to make Smart Bangladesh. Despite the critical situation of Covid-19, citizens have got almost all kinds of services online sitting at home, which is the benefit of Digital Bangladesh. 

From health and medical system of the country to education, office-court, bank, meeting-seminar, conference, etc., besides making it online-based, they have been able to buy daily essentials staying at home. 

Using the Information Technology all sorts of information services, telemedicine services, emergency food assistance for the underprivileged have also been provided during the pandemic. Due to this availability of technology, all types of bills and financial transactions are being done online. Sheikh Hasina’s government has provided information technology services not only in the big cities including capital city, but beyond the district and upazila headquarters in villages and even in remote areas. 

The present government has announced to build ‘Smart Bangladesh’ by 2041. The government has set four foundations to implement this Smart Bangladesh goal. These are -- Smart Citizen, Smart Economy, Smart Government and Smart Society. ‘Aspire to Innovate (A2I)’ implemented by the Cabinet Division and the Information and Communication Technology Department and supported by UNDP is providing support in various innovative initiatives to facilitate information technology-based citizen services. 

By implementing new projects to provide various government services using digital technology and create an ecosystem to involve citizens in receiving these services, Bangladesh has taken place in the World Bank’s ‘Govtech Leaders’ list. Bangladesh has reached this position in the Govtech Maturity Index (GTMI) 2022 published by the World Bank. Besides, Bangladesh has advanced 20 steps to 75th in e-Participation and 8 steps in United Nations e-Government Development Index. 

Online Causelist, Judicial Monitoring Dashboard and My Court (MyCourt) app have been launched to facilitate the judicial system. Besides, digital center based one-stop service center for CMSME entrepreneurs and PPS and RMS software to ensure transparency and accountability in project work has also been established.

The journey of ‘Ekshop Global’ has started spreading the products of domestic entrepreneurs all over the world. As in the 2nd year, digital huts were launched by connecting all the farmers and huts in the nation-wide sale of sacrificial animals. UBID Registration and Central Grievance Redressed System was introduced to give confidence to the e-commerce sector.

This year, the Digital Center, which has been established as a rural economic hub, completes a year. Initiatives have been taken to launch expatriate help desks at digital centers across the country to facilitate the emigration journey of Bangladeshi citizens and to provide emigration preparation documents and services from a one-stop service point.

Adding new payment channels of eight new financial service institutions to make payment of all service bills, education related fees and all other types of government services fees/bills in the country easier and integrated in the integrated payment platform ‘Ekpay’.

Besides A2I provided online orientation training to 315000+ teachers at secondary level and 350000+ subject-wise online training to 350000+ teachers on 13 subjects of sixth and seventh class using e-learning platform Muktapath. Technical assistance has been provided to Directorate of Secondary Higher Education and National Curriculum and Textbook Board in this regard. Besides, training has also been provided to technical support to Directorate of Secondary and Higher Education and UNICEF to provide online training on ‘Mental Health First Aid’ through Muktapath platform to about 2550000 teachers to ensure mental health and safety of students. 

 National helplines 333 and 16122 have started working together to provide emergency land related services. By calling 333-2, people can receive ‘khatian’ (paper) and land map by post, payment of ‘khatian’ and ‘namazari’ fee and land development tax from anywhere, ‘namazari’ application, information related to land laws and regulations and various complaints etc. from their home.

In consideration of global climate change, A2I’s iLab is engaged in CKD and production of electric vehicles domestically with the support of stakeholders (automobile associations, local automobile industry and expatriate skilled engineers) to increase technical knowledge and improve standards for the development of electric vehicles and environment-friendly industries. 

Following the start of the Russia-Ukraine war, the country has seen a significant rise in hacktivism. Researchers found that out of a total of 57,116 DDoS attacks discovered in 2022, the majority seemed to be politically motivated.

The key cybersecurity challenges organisations in Bangladesh face are ransomware, DDoS attack, phishing, and data breaches. 

This year itself, internet subscribers have crossed the milestone of 12.5 crores. According to the latest Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC), there are currently 12.61 crore internet users in the country, of which 11.66 crore are telecom operator dependent users. 

Apart from this, cellphone users (as per SIM registration) have crossed 18 crores. Mobile financial services (MFS) are playing a major role in the digitalisation of financial transactions. This year the number of MFS account holders also crossed 18 crore. At present, about Tk 3,000 crores are being transacted daily through 13 MFS operators including bkash, Rocket, Cash. According to ICT department sources, 18 years ago the size of the digital economy was only USD 26 million. Currently it has exceeded USD 1.4 billion. 

The government will invest Tk 500 crore over the next five years to develop a startup culture and harness the innovative opportunities of startups. Startup Bangladesh Limited, an organisation under the ICT department, has invested small and large amounts of money in several companies this year. 

According to the World Bank and Oxford Internet Institute (OII) survey, Bangladesh currently ranks second in the online workforce. About 650,000 trained freelancers are earning at least USD 500 million from the outsourcing sector. The youth of Bangladesh are working successfully in different companies abroad sitting in their own homes. They are able to earn thousands of dollars by outsourcing. 

The government is emphasising the construction of hi-tech or IT parks to increase services and employment. According to Bangladesh Hi-Tech Park Authority sources, the amount of investment in 10 Hi-Tech or IT Parks already built is Tk 1500 crores. A total of 192 local and foreign companies have started business operations in 109 hi-tech, IT parks or 10 parks built within Sheikh Kamal IT Incubation Center (17 private IT parks).

This year, the world final of the renowned International Collegiate Programming Competition (ICPC 2022) was held in the country for the first time. A total of 137 teams from the top universities of 70 countries participated in the 45th edition of the ICPC held on November 6 to November 11, in which the champion was the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Besides, gold medals in ‘NASA Space Apps Challenge 2022’ and Robot Olympiad are commemorating the progress of digital Bangladesh.

However, 2022 was not a happy year for IT workers. Because this year, some of the world’s largest IT companies have laid off workers. The list includes Twitter, Facebook’s parent company Meta and world-renowned e-commerce platform Amazon. 

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