Digital Bangladesh Vision 2021 will need from both Public and Private sector an infusion of resources, leadership and ICT centered development if it is to be made meaningful. Over the last few decades, the world has been shifting from industrial to knowledge-based societies; the ability of a nation to use and create knowledge capital determines its capacity to empower and enable its citizens by increasing human capabilities. Easy access to knowledge, creation and preservation of knowledge systems, dissemination of knowledge and better knowledge services should be core concerns of the Digital Bangladesh Vision 2021. Bangladesh should be part of a well-crafted national strategy and “Digital Bangladesh”, needs to be the cornerstone strategy for Bangladesh. We have to build a people-centered,
development-oriented Information Society, where everyone would be able to access, utilize and share information and knowledge easily and efficiently. The concept of Digital Bangladesh should be centered on the creation of what is popularly termed as a "knowledge- based society," Information and communication technologies (ICTs) are a critical component for building this knowledge-society. Our ability in creating and disseminating knowledge will
eventually drive the nation’s growth in the coming days. A digital society ensures an ICT- driven knowledge-based society where information will be readily available online and where all possible tasks of the government, semi-government and also private spheres will be processed using state of the art technology. The first and foremost challenge to materialize the Digital Bangladesh Vision 2021 would be to ensure overall connectivity at an affordable cost. With the intent to enhance connectivity emphasis should be provided on the establishment of infrastructures to “Connect the Unconnected” and importance must be given on laying more optical fiber to reach the marginal people of the country. Digital Bangladesh Vision 2021 should establish technology- driven e-governance which includes e-administration, e-education, e-health, e-commerce, e- production, e-agriculture, etc. in the five focus areas of the knowledge paradigm:
1) Access to Knowledge
2) Knowledge concepts
3) Creation of Knowledge
4) Knowledge Applications
5) Delivery of Services
1. Access to Knowledge:
Providing access to knowledge is the most fundamental way of increasing the opportunities and reach of individuals and groups. Therefore, means must exist for individuals who have the ability to receive and comprehend knowledge to readily obtain it. This also includes making accurate knowledge of the state and its activities available to the general public. Project, should be immediately initiated with an objective to facilitate the establishment of a firm presence of Bangladesh Government entities on the Web with two way communication capability or Web 2.0. The Program requires provision of an entire spectrum of web services to the Government sector as well as running specialized Portals for the benefit of citizens and other stakeholders.
2. Knowledge Concepts:
Knowledge concepts are organized, distributed and transmitted through the education system and that’s why we need an NREN in Bangladesh. It is through education that an individual can make better informed decisions, keep abreast of important issues and trends around him or her and most importantly, question the socio-economic arrangements in a manner that can lead to change and development. In fact, a successful "Digital Bangladesh" would need a more literate population. A mass computer-literacy program or even a government- sponsored computer course, offered perhaps as an incentive for every student who completes his or her secondary-school education, would benefit everyone. If there is will - backed by investment - there is a way.
3. Creation of Knowledge:
A nation can develop in two ways – either it learns to use existing resources better, or it discovers new resources. Both activities involve creation of knowledge. This makes it important to consider all activities that lead to the creation of knowledge directly or help in protecting the knowledge that is created. To realize the aspirations of the 2021 vision, the country must be able to produce its own engineers, scientists and technological know-how.
4. Knowledge Applications:
Knowledge can be productively applied to promote technological change and facilitate reliable and regular flow of information. This requires significant investment in goal-oriented research and development along with access models that can simplify market transactions and other processes within an industry. Initiatives in the areas of agriculture, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and traditional knowledge can demonstrate that knowledge can be very effectively applied for the betterment of the rural poor.
5. Delivery of Services:
Knowledge services have the potential to simplify many different points at which citizens interact with the State. Traditionally, these points of interaction have been vulnerable to unscrupulous activities and rent-seeking. We need to set the bureaucracy under an e- governance initiative, with a transparent file tracking system that the public can access. This will, right away, reduce corruption, because everyone involved in the process can be tracked
down. Technology provides us with an opportunity to ensure accountability, transparency and efficiency in government services. E-governance is one of the ways in which citizens can be empowered to increase transparency of government functioning, leading to greater efficiency and productivity. E-Governance aims to place the government within the reach of all citizens increasing transparency and citizen's participation. Thus, the development of e-Governance should promote universal access to government's services, integrate administrative systems, networks, and databases, and make such information available to the citizen via Internet. In a nutshell such e-Governance should transform the government into a citizen centric technological driven one. There are various dimensions to building a Digital Bangladesh, all of which are equally important pillars.
A Digital Bangladesh may constitute the following goals:
1) Build excellence in the educational system to meet the knowledge challenges of the
21st century by strengthening the education system, promote domestic research and innovation, facilitate knowledge application in sectors like health, agriculture, and industry.
2) Leverage information and communication technologies to enhance governance and improve connectivity that allows ICT-based services to be deployed equitably throughout his nation.
3) Devise mechanisms for exchange and interaction between knowledge systems in the Global arena.
4) Promote creation of knowledge in S&T laboratories that utilizes information technologies and communication networks for dissemination and exchange of knowledge.
5) Promote knowledge applications in agriculture and industry so that they can use ICTs for marketing and promotion of its products, for producing internal efficiencies, and for communication and transaction between entities.
6) Promote the use of knowledge capabilities in making government an effective, transparent and accountable service provider to the citizen and promote widespread sharing of knowledge to maximize public benefit.
World Bank Supports Digital Bangladesh through National Identification System
WASHINGTON, May 10, 2011 – The World Bank today approved a US$195 million concessional credit for the Identification for Enhanced Access to Services (IDEAS) Project to assist the Government of Bangladesh in developing a reliable and accurate national identification (ID) system that will enable efficient and transparent delivery of benefits and services to the people, particularly the poor.
Establishing a full-fledged and reliable national Identification system would significantly improve the delivery of public and private services. The system will be built upon the existing voter-list database by the Bangladesh Election Commission. Identification numbers and cards will be issued to about 90 million Bangladeshi citizens of age 18 and above within next five years. Modern technology will be used to produce robust national ID cards to protect the citizens from fraud and forgery.
“A comprehensive national identification system will transform the way in which public services, including social benefits, are delivered to recipients,” said Ellen Goldstein, World Bank Country Director for Bangladesh. “It will also assist in better planning, minimizing corruption and increasing transparency in service delivery.”
The project also serves as the foundation for the Government’s “Digital Bangladesh by 2021” program, which envisions the mainstreaming of information technology as a pro-poor tool to reduce poverty, establish good governance and ensure social equity.
“An important foundation for effective service delivery is the country’s capacity to identify citizens accurately and quickly,” said Junghun Cho, Project Team Leader. “The system will assist public agencies in identifying and verifying the identities of citizens as well as compiling data that would help focus social programs to those most in need. It is also expected that private sector entities, such as banks and mobile companies, will benefit from their increased capacity to verify service users.”
The core information available through the system will also help track many other transactions undertaken by the public sector, including collection of tax revenues, and systematize a wide range of record-keeping, from land ownership to utility connection.
The IDEAS Project would aid Government’s effort to establish a reliable and authoritative national identification system that can serve as an efficient, secure data platform. The project would focus on developing a legal and policy framework for the national identification system, upgrading data quality, and supporting the strengthening of the Bangladesh Election Commission to administer the national identification system.
The credit is from the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank’s concessionary lending arm. The credit carries a 0.75% service charge, a maturity of 40 years, including a 10-year grace period. For a link to our latest blog post, Moving Towards a 'Digital Bangladesh': http://blogs.worldbank.org/endpovertyinsouthasia/moving-towards-digital-bangladesh
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