Country moving towards digitalisation despite poverty, population boom

Country moving towards digitalisation despite poverty, population boom
Nizam Ahmed

Despite persistent poverty, population explosion, lack of much needed economic reforms and frequent natural disasters, the country is moving ahead to become a digital Bangladesh, officials said on Wednesday.

“To achieve economic improvement by removing all these constraints the government has taken the plan to digitalise the country by 2021,” a senior official of the ministry of information and communication technology (MICT) told the FE.

Introduction of national web portal of Bangladesh, online admission and exam systems in major educational institutions, online banking transaction and online edition of newspapers, etc have become the hallmarks of digitalisation of the country, an IT expert said.

“However the government officials assigned to handle the information technology should be more prompt in responding to people’s query, otherwise the objectives may not be achieved in time,” IT expert Eng. Akhtar Hussain, technical manager of a multimedia wire service told the FE.

With fast penetration into the population by computers, internet and mobile telephones, the relevant operators and service providers are playing a leading role in digitalising Bangladesh, a report of the Telecom Market Overview and Forecasts (TMOF) said.

The regulatory reforms introduced by the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) under the ministry of post and telecommunications and the Bangladesh Computer Council under the ministry of science, information and communication technology have played effective role in the telecom and the internet infrastructures, said the report of the TMOF, a global entity.

In a latest development the container handling at the country’s main Chittagong port was fully automated as Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the automated operations on Tuesday, officials said.

“Bangladesh’s mobile market crossed 80 million subscribers by the middle of 2011 as penetration neared 50 per cent,” said the TMOF report released recently.

This had been preceded by a significant five-year period in which the country saw mobile subscriber numbers grew almost 20 times, the report said.

Use of international bandwidth rose some 200 per cent over the last three years and e-services capacity was expected to be upgraded by 500 over the next two years for completely turning the country into a digital Bangladesh by 2021, the report said.

Meanwhile, the country has started manufacturing and distributing low-cost laptops to popularise the use of internet for digitalising the country as per the schedule.

Of the six mobile operators, GrameenPhone is the leader, claiming close to 35 million subscribers, or 44 per cent of the total mobile subscriber base, as of mid-2011, despite the best commercial efforts of its competitors.

Airtel Bangladesh became the fastest growing mobile operator in the country, its subscriber base lifting 51 per cent in the 12 months to August 2011; in the previous year Orascom had been the fastest mover, the TMOF report said.

However the Internet penetration still remains low with some 0.4 per cent user penetration following the granting of a number of WiMAX licences, the report said.

There are early signs that the market was about to change as the new WiMAX services were rolled out and started to attract customers.

It includes the development of the ICT sector of the country and its implementation in sectors such as education, health and job placements.

Following all these actions taken by the government, Bangladesh has attracted a lot of international mobile players, said the TMOF.


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