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E-government is the present and the future

29 November, 2022

Source : Dhaka Tribune

Reading Time: 6 Minutes

29 November, 2022 ·
Source : Dhaka Tribune
· Reading Time: 6 Minutes

E-government is the present and the future

E-government is the present and the future

The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) released its E-Government Survey of 2022, detailing the future of digital government.

This landmark report, the 12th iteration, comes at a crucial moment for the world as it has just moved past the worst of the Covid-19 pandemic which has set back economies across the globe, and whose negative impact we continue to suffer from.

This report is also extremely important for Bangladesh because for about 15 years now, Bangladesh has been on a path to rebuild the nation, primarily using technology and the power of digitization to establish a leapfrogging mindset.

The idea of building a Digital Bangladesh was born with the intention that by 2021, we would build an economy that could call itself a digital nation, where digital tools were now largely responsible for driving the country forward.

With 2021 now almost two years behind us, there are some striking statistics that show just how far we have come.

If we compare 2007 and 2021, no statistic is more impressive than our GDP per capita: In 2007, it was $558. In 2021, $2503 — an almost five time increase.

At the heart of this transformation has been the government’s intent to digitize and thus simplify public service delivery and instill a culture of innovation within the public sector, keeping in mind the needs of the common people, particularly those that are most deprived.

This has been spearheaded by a2i, which has always been synonymous with Digital Bangladesh.

From its role in simplifying and making available online over 1,500 public services to the close to 9,000 Digital Centres assisting with online services in the most remote areas of Bangladesh, a2i has been proud to have a significant legacy in digitizing Bangladesh.

However, while the initiative of the government to create a digital Bangladesh should be celebrated, it is reports such as UNDESA’s E-Government Survey that offer evidence that the work Bangladesh has been doing for the past 15 years is not empty; there is tangible, measurable progress.

We are happy to report that with the 2022 report, Bangladesh’s progress when it comes to e-governance is undeniable, and yet there is plenty of food for thought as well.

In this report, Bangladesh has ranked 111th in the overall E-Gov Development Index (EGDI) 2022 with a value of 0.5630.

At first glance, you can show reason for disappointment. 111th means that there are at least 110 countries who ranked higher in terms of e-governance than Bangladesh.

Yet, context is important. Bangladesh is 111th this year. As recently as eight years ago in 2014, it was 148th.

That means a 37 place jump in eight years. In fact, even in 2020, it was 119th, so we have jumped eight places over the past two years, while battling a global pandemic.

And in terms of e-participation, the progress is just as if not more impressive. Bangladesh ranked 75th in 2022 while in 2020, the rank was 95th – a 20 place jump!

If that is not progress, what is?

Once again, a2i has played a significant role by working closely with the National Data Coordination Committee (NDCC) to keep the data updated and ensuring the correct methodology, while also directly participating in the assessment process.

Bangladesh is also the highest ranked least developed country (LDC) on the list.

This is where we begin our food for thought and a dose of reality.

Despite all the progress we have had or are achieving, we are still an LDC.

It is important that we remember that.

Nobody in Bangladesh wants our country to remain an LDC. In fact, we are set to graduate very soon and become a middle-income country.

But Bangladesh has never aspired to be a middle-income country. That is not the dream of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and that was not the dream of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

Our dream has always been to create “Shonar Bangla” — a high-income and prosperous nation, but also an equitable one, where each and every citizen has a good quality of life.

This will never be possible if we don’t start work immediately, especially with the changes that the Fourth Industrial Revolution is already bringing.

And continuing to build on our success of e-governance will be one of the pillars on which this Shonar Bangla is built.

We have the Sustainable Development Goals less than eight years away. And the 2030s will be all about enacting the appropriate policies to beat the middle-income trap, so we can fulfil Vision 2041, and create not just a digital Bangladesh but a Smart Bangladesh, leveraging the power of technology and digital tools and becoming the country we were always meant to be.

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