Since the Digital Bangladesh by 2021 vision was proposed in 2008, Bangladesh has been undergoing a digital transformation. At MWC 2019, Zunaid Ahmed Palak, State Minister of ICT Division, Bangladesh, talked to ZTE Technologies about the country's recent achievements in digital government and the five targets for achieving Digital Bangladesh in the next five years starting from 2019.
What are the most important elements of Digital Bangladesh?
Our honorable Prime Minister declared her vision to build Digital Bangladesh in 2008. Since then, we have been building four pillars for achieving Digital Bangladesh: human resources development, internet connectivity for all, digital government, and ICT industry promotion. These are the four areas where we are focusing on to build Digital Bangladesh.
What have been the achievements in e-government so far? How do you evaluate the national data center project?
Honorable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has taken a very different approach for providing digital government services to the citizens. In 2009, honorable Prime Minister decided to set up digital centers at the village level. Since then, we have set up 5,000 digital delivery centers across the country where 500 different types of digital services are available to the citizens, villagers. Every month six million people are getting digital services from those digital centers. And we have one of the largest government portals in the world where we have 43, 000 websites and 1, 500 different types of forums. We have introduced 700 mobile applications to make citizens’ lives easier. I would say that 50 percent of government services are now online and setting up the IV Tier national data center supported by ZTE—we are now using two petabytes storage capacity—is going to play a very vital role in digital government.
ZTE has been working in Bangladesh for more than 20 years. How do you evaluate its contribution to the local market? What's your expectations or suggestions for ZTE?
We are really grateful to ZTE for their presence in Bangladesh for the last 20 years. They are working with the private sector and, at the same time, with the government agencies, ministries. Currently, ZTE is implementing two important projects for the government. One is laying down the fiber optical cables across the country; another is IV Tier national data center establishment. I think ZTE has been working for Bangladesh for a long time, and I hope that ZTE will be the most important partner in building Digital Bangladesh. And I also would like to request to ZTE for setting up a center of excellence on frontier technology in Bangladesh. I hope in the future, we will be working together for building Digital Bangladesh.
What does the future hold for Bangladesh's ICT sector in the new session of the Government especially in the next five years starting from 2019?
Bangladesh government has been working hard to achieve Digital Bangladesh under the prudent leadership of honorable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and under the proper guidance of the architect of Digital Bangladesh, Sajeeb Wazed Joy. ICT Division has been working to achieve all these targets that are important for achieving Digital Bangladesh. In the next five years, we have five specific targets.
We want to provide modern citizen services and facilities to the villagers, and, to ensure the modern facilities for villagers; we have five targets, like ensuring access to electricity, access to internet connectivity, a modern road connectivity, education and health. These five basic needs we want to provide for the villagers by using ICT definitely.
The second is we want to develop our human resources. Bangladesh is one of the youngest nations in the world. We have 70 percent of our population who are below 35. We have 50 million students who are studying from primary to tertiary level. We want to develop all these human resources according to the global requirements and according to digital world's requirements. That's why we have set up nearly 9000 digital labs across the country and we have a target to set up another 25,000 Sheikh Russell digital computer labs in primary, secondary, higher secondary and tertiary levels. We want to set up specialized labs in the university level. We are setting up IT training and incubation centers at the university level and we are building 28 high-tech parks across the country to develop our human resources.
Third, we want to use ICT for reducing the time, cost, visit and corruption. We want to provide digital services for the government and for the people.
Fourth, we want to create an innovation ecosystem in Bangladesh. We want to develop entrepreneurial supply chain. We want to provide home-grown solutions for the people of Bangladesh and we want to create a start-up culture in Bangladesh because Bangladesh has a huge market size. We have a huge demand of different types of products because we have 50 million middle-income and affluent consumers. To fulfil their requirements and demands, we want to create that supply chain.
Fifth, we want to introduce 5G mobile facilities in the next five years.
These are the five areas we are focusing and we want to achieve all these five targets in five years.
Digital future, Bangladesh, ICT sector