May 20, 2015
Digital Bangladesh
Free internet access to selected websites was introduced in Bangladesh by, a non-profit group that allows free online browsing through mobile gadgets. The service would let users view websites for education materials and information on government, health, job, weather, sports, finance and more. On Sunday, State Minister for Information Communication and Technology (ICT) Division Zunaid Ahmed Palak inaugurated the service while ICT ministry, Facebook and Robi have come together for this great cause. Shortly after the launching, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg hoped this project by Facebook, Inc will help lift millions of people out of poverty in Bangladesh.
In a momentous feat, Bangladesh, for the first time, participated in Japan IT Week 2015 with a view to attract foreign investors in ICT sector. The State Minister for ICT Division Zunaid Ahmed Palak inaugurated the Bangladesh booth in the fair and afterwards addressed a seminar titled ‘IT and Young Bangladesh: Going Digital, Growing Global’ highlighting the achievements of the country’s fast growing IT sector. In addition, the minister offered incentive package for investors to pave the way for boosting ICT based-development programmes to make the country an advanced one.
Aiming to connect Bangladesh with a second submarine cable by the end of next year, the Executive Committee of National Economic Council (ECNEC) has approved a project to install the cable connection involving $ 82.5 million. Once the country gets its second connection, it will obtain bandwidth of more than 1,300 gigabytes per second in addition to the existing 200 Gbps. The move will lead to the expansion of call-centre business, software exports and the data entry sector.
Through its visionary steps, the Awami League government has brought the nation closer to ‘Digital Bangladesh’, a party-promise unanimously trusted by the countrymen. In its continuation, people of Bangladesh do shopping worth over a staggering $ 92 million online each year, revealed a Google survey, which also expressed its optimism that the amount would keep rising. Another survey found that Bangladesh reached a milestone, as its internet users are as many as 43 million.
As digitized activities have soared sharply over the last six years, the government is now embarked on a massive project to install tier-4 certified National Data Centre (NDC). The objective is to preserve information on a large scale as well as to provide its security. To that goal, Bangladesh Computer Council (BCC) and ZTE Corporation, a technology-based company from China, signed an agreement to set up that fifth largest data centre in globe involving $ 194 million. Under the pact, Bangladesh will provide $ 40 million while the rest amount will be funded by Chinese Exim Bank.
A memorandum of understanding was outlined between the government and Telenor Digital that will allow Bangladesh to use the Norway-based company’s digital and mobile technology to drive country’s social, economic and human development. Under the agreement, Telenor Digital, which works to shape the digital future of Norway-based telecommunications company Telenor Group, will work closely with the Access to Information (A2I), a project of Prime Minister’s Office, in developing social initiatives across digital platforms to address socio-economic needs of the people in Bangladesh.
Inclusive Growth and Development
A latest survey, commissioned by The Standard & Poor's (S&P), an American financial services company, has projected a ‘stable outlook’ for country’s economy for the sixth consecutive year. “We are affirming our 'BB-/B' foreign and local currency sovereign credit ratings on Bangladesh, while stable outlook balances healthy growth prospects and an improving external profile” said the top credit rating agency in its research update. Just a week before another global rating agency Moody's rated Bangladesh a 'Ba3' with a stable outlook, presenting another evidence of the Awami League led government’s visionary economic management policies.
With an aim to identify the level of air pollution, government has decided to introduce a national Air Quality Index (AQI) in the country's cities. To this effect, a total of 11 Continuous Air Monitoring Stations (CAMS) in the country's eight cities were set up to keep track of air pollution levels.
A wide range of measures has been devised to create around 0.8 million employment opportunities for the ultra poor rural people in next fiscal year. Like last year, the Employment Generation Programme for the Poorest (EGPP) will get a government allocation of $187 million. Under the project, works will be undertaken to repair rural roads, bridges and culverts, schools and cemeteries, fill derelict canals and carry out other development activities.
Trade and Investment
Bangladesh is turning into a major source of denim products as international retailers attracted by cheaper prices place higher volumes of denim-based work orders. To that goal, the second Denim Expo was concluded last week in the capital amid high hopes, with entrepreneurs targeting to export $7 billion worth of denim products by 2021, when the country's total garment export is expected to cross the $50-billion mark. More than 100 exclusive retailers and brands from Europe and the US participated in the two-day programme.
As part of its vision to change the progress of the nation, the government and the World Bank (WB) have agreed to work together with an aim to revamp and reshape all leading and potential export industries. According to the agreement, WB will provide $300 million for improving financial-market infrastructure, regulatory and oversight capacity of the central bank and access to long-term financing for export-oriented industries. The government will arrange another $50 million in a bid to strengthen the financial-market infrastructure.
International and Regional Cooperation
European Union Ambassador in Dhaka Pierre Mayaudon has hailed government’s efforts to uphold peace saying that Europe and Bangladesh have "a lot in common", and both sides pursue the same ideals of peace and development. "Because Bangladesh believes in Peace and Development, it is the world’s largest contributor to the UN Peace Keeping Operations," said the ambassador. Pointing out EU’s aim to bring forward Bangladesh as a stronger economic partner, the head of the mission said “this would do justice to the millions of actors of this silent revolution which is gradually taking Bangladesh out of poverty.”
Bangladesh’s military, globally acclaimed for its UN peacekeeping missions, have joined the Qatar multinational exercise to show the world its capabilities in crisis management like natural disaster. Apart from taking part in all disaster management activities within the country, in recent years, they rendered disaster response assistance to Japan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, China, Pakistan, Myanmar, India, Maldives, Haiti and Nepal. Styled ‘Ferocious Falcon’, Qatar is hosting this fourth-of-its-kind military exercise involving 27 countries, including the US, UK, Germany, and France as observers.
In the wake of increasing diplomatic efforts of the government, a high-powered delegation from Myanmar is expected to visit Bangladesh igniting fresh hope on the signing of the preferential trade agreement (PTA) between the two countries. Singing of PTA will allow both countries to pare back duties which will result in a meteoritic rise in bilateral trade. Moreover, an intensified advancement in mutual cooperation would be marked in sectors such as agriculture, food, fisheries, power and mineral resources, and introduction of direct shipping service.
Ode to Young Champions of Change
Tulip Siddiq, granddaughter of the father of our nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, and two other Bangladeshi women – all from Labour Party - have become the public choice in UK to be members of House of Commons. This is the first time three ladies from Bangladeshi lineage enjoyed victory in a UK general election. Other two are Rushanara Ali and Rupa Huq.
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