A few months back Telenor Group asked whether we would be interested in working up a document that would focus thinking on Digital Bangladesh and identify priority areas for cooperative action by different agencies of government and the private sector, including in particular Telenor’s Bangladesh affiliate Grameenphone. We did not have to think much because this was an opportunity to crystallize seven years of ongoing discussions and help advance the process of accelerated implementation. The government should relax the rules to attract more foreign firms to invest in Bangladesh, said a report developed by Grameenphone and its major shareholder Telenor Group with the support of LIRNEasia. The government should also form a well-planned spectrum roadmap and introduce tech neutrality to boost the telecom, IT and IT-enabled services, the report suggested. The report, Realising Digital Bangladesh, also advised the government to liberalise international gateways to allow one-stop shopping services and ensure the quality of services.
It seemed like a launch and a coming out party combined. The launch was of Digital Bangladesh. The coming out was of Sajeeb Ahmed Wazed, the thinker behind Digital Bangladesh who also happens to be the grandson of Bangabandhu (Friend of Bengal) Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and son of Shiekh Hasina, the Prime Minister of Bangladesh. It was a grand vision that was set out, one that would radically increase ICT literacy in Bangladesh, provide government services over e platforms and create service industry jobs for the wave of young people entering the job market. It was ironical that we had to listen to the speeches on digital Bangladesh phoneless, having been compelled to leave all electronics behind in the name of security.
The AT Kearney Global Services Location Index for 2011 is out. I seem to have missed the 2010 report, so comparing with 2009, which I did do a post on. India is still number 1 and China is number 2. No change. Thailand has slipped to 7 from 4, overtaken by Indonesia.
Websites are not signboards. Information in the web must be updated immediately. But Daily Star said the Bangladesh government’s various websites are nothing but digital signboards. They are full of outdated and irrelevant contents. Citizens need information to interact with the state.
Dream of digital Bangladesh quotes us extensively. Poor people in Bangladesh are more likely to own mobile phones and televisions than the same group in India, but the availability of computers in poor Bangladeshi households is almost zero, according to a recent study. The survey by LIRNEasia – a Sri Lanka-based information and communication technology (ICT) policy and regulation think tank dealing with the Asia-Pacific – also revealed a comparative reluctance among poor Bangladeshis to buy radios.