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Bangladesh’s visionary approach to lead world with ‘Zero Digital Divide’

Date: 23 December, 2023

Writer : Syed Altefat Hossain
Source : BSS Nnews

Reading Time: 5 Minutes

23 December, 2023
Writer : Syed Altefat Hossain
Source : BSS Nnews
· Reading Time: 5 Minutes

Bangladesh’s visionary approach to lead world with ‘Zero Digital Divide’

Bangladesh’s visionary approach to lead world with ‘Zero Digital Divide’

Bangladesh has taken a groundbreaking initiative named ‘e-Quality Centre for Inclusive Innovation’ to combat the global digital divide caused by the technological revolution across the globe, including Bangladesh, over the past three decades.

As the digital revolution has developed a digital divide contributing to overall inequalities apart from making human life simpler across the world, Bangladesh is leading a campaign titled ‘Zero Digital Divide’ envisioning a world with equal access of all digital opportunities to all.

Bangladesh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in collaboration with Aspire to Innovate (a2i) under the Cabinet Division and ICT Division supported by UNDP, is spearheading the establishment of the ‘e-Quality Centre for Inclusive Innovation’.

This initiative, implemented with strategic partnerships with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Observer Research Foundation (ORF), and People-Centered Internet (PCI), aims to address and combat the global digital divide.

Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen officially launched the pioneering ‘e-Quality Centre for Inclusive Innovation’ initiative on September 25 during a high-level side event at the 78th United Nations General Assembly in New York, said a2i officials.

The launch of the ‘e-Quality Centre for Inclusive Innovation’ signals a bold and significant stride towards a world where digital opportunities will be equally accessible to all, promising to make the ‘Zero Digital Divide’ a reality.

Before its formal inauguration, it first unfolded during a side event at the High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) 2023 for Sustainable Development, where the centre’s socialization occurred in collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, UN agencies and development partners.

Esteemed international experts discussed the potential of South-South Cooperation as the most efficient means to address the digital divide and promote global inclusivity.

On September 9 this year, the a2i of the Cabinet Division and the ICT Division, supported by the UNDP, launched a global campaign, #ZeroDigitalDivide, aiming to eradicate digital inequality globally.

This campaign is seen as a global initiative that boldly aims to narrow the digital gap and promote the global inclusion of digital services.
Elucidating the e-Quality centre’s operational framework, a2i Project Director Md Mamunur Rashid Bhuiyan said, ‘The e-Quality Centre strives to focus on marginalized communities, gender equality, disability inclusion, and support for the extremely poor as well as small businesses.

“Together, we commit to creating an inclusive digital world where technology opens doors for everyone, leaving no one behind,” he added.
In pursuit of a world with ‘Zero Digital Divide’, Bhuiyan said, the centre has a clear roadmap to achieve the goal.

The roadmap includes conducting rigorous research to understand disparities; supporting LDCs and developing nations, and facilitating the South-South technology transfer of innovations globally by 2025.
“By 2027, we aim to create a comprehensive e-Quality Index for measuring disparities,” Bhuiyan said.

The launching of the e-Quality Centre has drawn international attention to critical global digital challenges as it engaged global leaders in discussions in identifying the root causes of digital exclusion, exploring a worldwide equality index, fostering collaboration among countries, and examining the role of the International ICT Innovation (i3) matching fund facility, he said.

Under the e-Quality Centre, the a2i project director said, research is being carried out to create the e-Quality index by 2027, which will bring 70 countries under it.

The centre’s policy and research initiatives will accurately identify digital divide issues and advocate for data-driven interventions to promote inclusivity, he added.

Besides, the centre will leverage Bangladesh’s remarkable progress in frugal but inclusive digital transformation to transfer proven digital solutions to underserved communities in developing nations and least developed countries (LDCs) under the South-South Technology Transfer initiative, Bhuiyan said.

Noting that Bangladesh has been leading the south-south countries for a long-time and many technologies are being transferred to those countries, he said, “Other countries also could contribute in eliminating the digital divide in Bangladesh by transferring their best solution to our country”.

“In addition, under the e-Quality Centre, we have already started facilitating i3 matching fund. We have started providing support to five countries- Gambia, Uganda, Sao Tom, and Pr-ncipe, Somalia and Ghana- from technological support to financial assistance under the innovation fund,” the a2i official said.

These countries have already started implementing technologies developed by Bangladesh instead of redeveloping, he said, adding, “We also could take solutions from other countries if they have better ones”.

By fostering innovation and technology sharing, Bhuiyan hoped, the e-Quality Centre will empower nations to bridge the digital divide and accelerate inclusive digital transformation.

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