Sajeeb Wazed, also known as Joy, is a tech policymaker from Bangladesh. He serves as an advisor to Bangladesh’s Prime Minster on information and communication technology (ICT) affairs. He was the first to conceptualize a tech-driven development model for Bangladesh.
Sajeeb is the flag bearer of the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s political legacy, his grandfather and Bangladesh’s founding leader. His mother Sheikh Hasina has been the Prime Minister of Bangladesh since 2009. His father, Wazed Miah, was a nuclear scientist.
Sajeeb is in public life. He plays a critical role in Bangladesh’s long-term plans to become a middle-income country by 2021 and an advanced economy by 2041. He is regarded as the mastermind of the Digital Bangladesh initiative, which has been inculcated into all sectoral policies of Bangladesh.
Sajeeb actively promotes the Digital Bangladesh scheme and investment opportunities in Bangladesh at international platforms. He is said to have brought the Silicon Valley spirit to Dhaka.
Some quick facts about Sajeeb
- Sajeeb’s birth coincided with the birth of Bangladesh during the 1971 Liberation War of Bangladesh. His grandfather Mujib amicably named him ‘Joy,’ which means victory – as a symbol of the nation’s victory.
- Sajeeb was born when his family was imprisoned by the Pakistan Army during the 1971 War.
- Less than four years after independence, when he was 4 years old, his grandfather and then President of Bangladesh, was brutally assassinated on 15 August 1975. Most of his family members were killed that night. Mujib’s murder was the first assassination-coup in South Asia.
- Sajeeb, his sister, his mother and father, escaped the assassination because they were abroad in West Germany. The military rulers, who took charge after Mujib, barred Sajeeb’s family from returning to Bangladesh. His family was provided asylum by India in 1975, where they lived for the next five years. His family returned to Bangladesh in 1981. For the next few years, they faced threats against their lives.
- Sajeeb’s educational background is in computer science and public policy in South Asia and the United States. This has given him cross-regional exposure and molded him to work in tech-policy space.
- Sajeeb’s school education was completed in India – starting from St. Joseph’s College in Indian state of Uttarakhand, and then to Kodaikanal International School in the state of Tamil Nadu.
- He completed his undergraduate studies in computer science and mathematics from Bangalore University, India. He pursued another undergraduate degree in computer engineering at the University of Texas, Arlington in the United States.
- He completed his graduate studies in public administration at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.
- In 2007, Sajeeb was the first Bangladeshi to be recognized as a Young Global Leader the World Economic Forum for his professional accomplishments and commitment to society. That batch included other prominent influencers such as Larry Page and Sergey Brin, co-founders of Google and Mikheil Saakashvili, former president of Georgia.
- Sajeeb’s won the World Organization of Governance and Competitiveness’s prestigious ICT for Development Award for his advocacy work on digital connectivity in remote areas.
- Sajeeb embraces progressive politics based on social welfare and secularism. He is a member of the Awami League, the largest political party in Bangladesh.
- In his personal life, Sajeeb is married and has a daughter. He was semi-pro motorcycle track racer in the United States.
Points to note about Sajeeb’s thoughts on policymaking
- In 2008 Sajeeb Wazed persuaded the Awami League, which was in the main opposition party, to prioritize connectivity and digitization. These along with energy, were the main bottlenecks inhibiting Bangladesh’s economic growth.
- The Awami League incorporated his inputs in their next election-promises and won on that platform.
- In 2009 Sajeeb, became instrumental in unveiling Bangladesh government’s long-term action plan for digitizing governance under the Digital Bangladesh scheme. The plan set specific goals: digitize every government agency’s operation and simplify public services as a strategy to make Bangladesh competitive.
- He also envisioned Bangladesh to be a top IT outsourcing hub, similar to India. Bangladesh’s demographic dividend, which may last till 2035, will be the driving force.
- Sajeeb was instrumental in formulating Bangladesh’s ICT Policy of 2009. The policy drilled down to 10 objectives, 56 strategic themes and 306 action plans to enhance the scope of ICT in every sphere of national life. The ICT policy was amended twice, in 2015 and 2018, to make them adaptative.
- In the last decade, Bangladesh has been transformed as the world’s 2nd largest hub for IT freelancing. The country has retooled its educational system for the purpose.
- More than 1.3 million tech professionals and over 10,000 tech entrepreneurs have made Bangladesh their home since the inception of Digital Bangladesh. Together they bring in more than $1 billion in annual foreign earnings from information technology services, which was less than $30 million in 2010.
- As a policymaker, Sajeeb’s inputs have manifested in smart governance innovations. For example, his advice to introduce an e-administration platform has significantly reduced inefficiencies and his push for regulatory easing for mobile money has put financial inclusion at top of the country’s policy agenda.
- As a policy advocate, Sajeeb believes that opening up Bangladesh’s financial sector is essential to bring foreign direct investment into the economy.
- In 2018, he played an integral role in Bangladesh entering the space age, when its own satellite, “Banghabandhu-1,” was launched on Falcon 9 rocket of American firm SpaceX.
- Sajeeb is advising Bangladeshi policymakers to leverage a science, technology and innovation (STI) policy framework: open community level digital service center every 4km, encourage local startups to innovate and scale up digital financial services as 90% of the people will have online bank accounts by 2024.