Bangladesh’s transition to ‘Smart Bangladesh’ from ‘Digital Bangladesh’
By: Erina Haque
Digital Bangladesh to Smart Bangladesh. Basically, it is a concept paper and strategy – which is being implemented phase by phase and will be implemented by the current government. On December 12, 2008, Digital Bangladesh was announced as the foundation of ‘Vision-2021’. Comprehensive and multi-faceted development started with the formulation of one plan after another and its implementation by taking up multiple mega projects simultaneously. As per the election promise, the government has already provided broadband connectivity across the country and launched satellite Bangabandhu-1 into space. Currently, 180 million mobile SIMs are being used by 160 million people.
999 for call center-based services, 333 for any information, 3331 for farmer friend services, telemedicine services and blended learning have become popular among them. The mastermind behind this transformation of Bangladesh is Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her son Information and Communication Adviser Sajeeb Wazed Joy. On the 14th anniversary of Digital Bangladesh, the government has announced to transform the country from Digital to ‘Smart Bangladesh’ by 2041 – which will be implemented by this time. An infrastructure of how Bangladesh will progress from 21 to 41, accordingly plans are formulated for all levels of people to build themselves accordingly.
The government is working on the successful implementation of 4 pillars to build Smart Bangladesh. These are – Smart Citizen, Smart Economy, Smart Government and Smart Society. Apart from this, 2100 delta plans have been undertaken. All work in Smart Bangladesh will be done through technology. Where every citizen will be proficient in using technology.
Through it all 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. In 2019, the government is working on e-Government Master Plan and 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 Idea Project, Bangabandhu Innovation Grant (BIG), and Startup Circle. The government has formulated the guidelines for the management of venture capital companies named Startup Bangladesh Limited for investment. Bangladesh ranks first among South Asian and SAARC countries in 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 nature and environment of the village is above all agriculture-fruit-vegetable gardens-farms along with gas-electricity-water and all information technology-based facilities can be found. However, every citizen has special responsibilities and duties in building and implementing Smart Bangladesh.
Firstly, for this, every citizen should be developed as a skilled human resource to meet the challenges of the fourth industrial revolution. Secondly, everyone has to be responsible to the family, society and the state from their position. Otherwise, the benefits of Smart Bangladesh will not be fully and fully achieved.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has said that her government is working to transform the country from digital to ‘Smart Bangladesh’ by 2041.
He said, we will make Bangladesh a developed country in the next 41 years. And that Bangladesh will be Smart Bangladesh. We will move from Digital Bangladesh to Smart Bangladesh.
She said that the government is working to successfully implement the four pillars of building ‘Smart Bangladesh’. These are Smart Citizen, Smart Economy, Smart Government and Smart Society. We have not stopped here; we have also planned how the delta of 2100 will be.
In Smart Bangladesh everything will be through technology. Mentioning that the citizens will be skilled in the use of technology and the entire economy will be managed through it, the Prime Minister said that huge efforts have already been made to make the government and society smart.
Mentioning the young generation as soldiers to transform Bangladesh into a developed and prosperous country, she said, youth should be prepared as smart citizens as soldiers of 2041.
As a result of formulation of Digital Bangladesh Vision 2021 and its successful implementation, Bangladesh has made significant progress in all sectors of the economy. As a result, Bangladesh has qualified to become a developing country from a less developed country. It will become a reality by November 24, 2026. Future-oriented short-term and long-term planning/policy formulation is facilitating this progress of the nation.
Initiatives taken under Vision 2021 such as digital transformation, digital innovation and digital economy are serving as a strong foundation towards the implementation of Vision 2041. Platforms providing government digital services have opened up new opportunities for the common man. At the same time, they are developing their mentality in accepting digital services. Bangladesh is fully prepared to implement the Fourth Industrial Revolution and Smart Bangladesh Vision-2041 based on the strong infrastructure built on the digital connectivity ecosystem.
There has been great progress in various areas of Digital Bangladesh Vision through telecommunication services. As a result, anyone now has the opportunity to further involve themselves in the digital/smart economy. A great example in this regard is Singapore’s Smart Nation. Looking at that, one can understand the extraordinary role that a Smart Nation can play from individual life to industrial level.
It is important to identify the constraints before taking the necessary steps to achieve the ultimate goal and take necessary steps to ensure progress in those areas. Four institutional pillars and specific activities have been undertaken to ensure the desired progress between 2021 and 2041. Now they need proper implementation.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has set the goal of Smart Bangladesh through her visionary thinking. The government has already set up a working committee and identified initial work areas. Working Committees have been formed comprising of relevant stakeholders, which will help in proper implementation of the targets. It is very important to ensure the goals and final results according to each sector. Otherwise, the expected results will not be obtained.
Smart Bangladesh Vision 2041 has four main pillars; The first two of which are Smart Citizen and Smart Government – through which all services and media will be transformed into digital. On the other hand, Smart Society and Smart Economy will play a supportive role in creating an inclusive society and building a business-friendly environment to ensure smart economic growth. In addition to massive transformation under these four pillars, technologies of the fourth industrial revolution will play an important role in realizing the vision of Smart Bangladesh.
The writer is Human rights activist, refugee affairs researcher, and freelance columnist.