Digitisation bridging rural-urban gap

December 15, 2021

Source : Daily Sun

Reading Time: 6 Minutes

Bangladesh is focusing on development strategies based on a bottom-up approach to ensure maximum benefits to the people through the best use of technology.

The government established digital centres at union parishads to empower the rural community by improving their access to tech-enabled services.

Abdur Rashid is a marginal farmer living in Barobaria village of Poba upazila. Once he had to go to the district headquarters to collect documents for land-related services.

But when he learnt about the Union Digital Centers (UDC) from a neighbour, it was surprising for him who previously had to spend a lot of time and money to get services through the traditional system.

“When I went to Rajshahi, I had to spend around Tk 300 on transport and food. But now I receive the same services from UDC very quickly. It costs only Tk 100,” Abdur Rashid told the Daily Sun.

There are 8,280 Union Digital Centers across the country —already provided over 605 million services till September this year.  Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina envisioned the Digital Bangladesh programme as a long-term strategy to ensure inclusive development leveraging the power of technology.

Prime Minister’s ICT Affairs Adviser Sajib Wazed Joy has been proving backend strategies for implementing the digital journey of Bangladesh.

On November 11, 2010, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated a Union Information Centre through a video conference at a char named Kukri Mukri in Bhola with former President of New Zealand and United Nations Development Programme’s Administrator Helen Clark.

 

Jarmin Akter Tumpa, a tenth-grade student at River View Collectorate School in Rajshahi, was introduced to Microsoft Office at Sheikh Russell Computer Lab at her school.

“I can prepare the result sheet or any other accounting works in Excel,” Jarmin Akter Tumpa said while sharing her computer skills.

Collectorate School headteacher Monwara Begum expressed gratitude to the government for developing the teacher portal that helps the rural educational institutions to access academic lectures from Dhaka and other megacities.

“We continued remote learning for students through Facebook during the pandemic. Besides, multimedia classroom activities inspire students to use digital content. It helped reduce the knowledge gap,” she said.

The government has established Sheikh Russel Digital Labs at 8,000 educational institutions to increase computer literacy of school students across the country.

The internet infrastructures established across 3800 unions with a strong fibre optic network is helping the rural youths and individuals to empower themselves using digital platforms.

One of the emerging freelancers in the Rajshahi region is Khairul Alam. He has become an example of transforming individual outsourcing work to an institutional level.

“In 2018, I started Fleet Bangladesh with 10 employees. I later expanded my company to have 100 employees in 2019,” Khairul Alam told the Daily Sun.

The number of employees has now exceeded 600 in four offices in Rajshahi. Fleet Bangladesh is now considering Fleet Real State, Fleet Property Management, and Fleet Chain as its future ventures.

Khairul was featured in the two international business magazines ―Forbes in 2020 and Entrepreneur in 2021.

Over the last 12 years, the government developed digital systems for different sectors including decision support systems (e-Nothi), Bangladesh National Digital Architecture (BNDA), National Portal Framework, Identification Platform (Porichoy), assisted model (UDC, 333), ekPay and so on.

As part of a rapid digitalization approach of the government, the national super app ‘MyGov’ aggregates all existing service blocks of e-governance, such as, ekSheba Citizen, e-Nothi, ekSheba Government, ekSheba Uddokta, 333, Porichoy, GRS etc.) to quickly digitize all public services by 2021 and to fulfil the government’s mandate of building a digital Bangladesh.

Regarding the digital services, State Minister for ICT Zunaid Ahmed Palak said the government has been working to reduce the gap between urban and rural areas through establishing strong internet connectivity and bringing all services in one place.

The government introduced the supper app “MyGov’ for bringing services of all ministries under a single umbrella.

“We have developed infrastructures to lead the country towards a knowledge-based economy where freelancers are the front fighter. Besides, the Union Digital Centre helps to reduce hassle in citizen services. The MyGov app brings all services on our fingertips,” he said.

The junior minister also mentioned that Bangladesh has shown excellence in e-governance through operating 1.13 million e-files among state-run offices.

In the telemedicine sector, Bangladesh has shown excellence as experts physicians from megacities served people living in villages.

During a field visit to Singra upazila in Natore, an area surrounded by water bodies, it has been found that there are no specialized doctors for eye treatment in the local health centre.

However, the hospital serves at least 20 people every day by connecting expert physicians from megacities like Dhaka. A community vision centre has been established at the health complex where patients from rural areas get quality services through video conferencing.


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