Bangladesh · Challenges of Bangladesh · Digital Bangladesh · Economic Barriers · Economy of Bangladesh

Driving digital Bangladesh forward

Driving digital Bangladesh forward

Md. Joynal Abdin

The Independent on July 16, 2018

One achievement of the government is more visible i.e. expansion of digital technology and its uses in day to day activities of mass people. Making digital Bangladesh was the election manifesto of Bangladesh Awami League in 2009 general election. With different limitations digitization took place in many sectors and different government services became peoples reach due to introduction of online processes. But till now people are not getting full benefit of digital Bangladesh due to lack of commitments from the corrupt bureaucracy and lack of monitoring and evaluation by the responsible higher authority. Corrupt official are not allowing full digitization of the processes to remain unofficial earning line alive. Therefore respective Secretaries and Ministers should be careful to make the processes fully digital to ensure hassle free delivery of government services to the mass people and make digital Bangladesh truly functional. At the same time government has to move further with its Digital Bangladesh concept into Digital Economy concept.

Digital economy refers to an economy that is based on digital computing technologies. The digital economy is also sometimes called the Internet Economy, the New Economy, or Web Economy. Digital economy is related to various areas in the development of ICT infrastructures, equipment, services and applications across industries like mobile network, fixed broadband access network, transmission network, ICT application and services, ICT infrastructure, equipment and in semiconductor industry etc. According to the Oxford Dictionary “digital economy is an economy which functions primarily by means of digital technology, especially electronic transactions made using the internet”. Bangladesh entered into the Fourth Generation (4 G) age of telecommunication. High speed internet connectivity is available in the country but till now its cost is comparatively higher for the general people. Cost of internet uses has to bring into general peoples reach and other processes have to be cleared to make digitization functional, effective and fruitful. For example receiving foreign currency earnings through outsourcing is still out of mass peoples reach. Only members of a certain association can open such accounts in selective banks and receive PayPal account’s earnings here in Bangladesh. Making instant online inter-bank transactions, purchasing goods from online portals, receiving online payment is still impossible. Bangladesh has enormous potentials in outsourcing business but producing trade based qualified manpower is yet to be added in formal learning. Whereas digital economy risen about USD 3 trillion during last twenty years globally.

According to Forbes magazine about 1,25, 000 large organizations are launching digital business initiatives with estimated digital revenue increase by more than 80per cent by 2020. There is evidence that the companies that are adapting digital technologies are 26per cent more profitable than their industry peers. Bangladeshi SMEs are yet sleeping to adopt digital means of business i.e. e-commerce and e-business due to absence of digital infrastructure. Paying or receiving online is not possible till now. Even instant online interbank transaction is out of peoples reach. Online trading of shares by mass people is not started as a result share market did not expand as it should be. Company registration, trade license, tax payment, passport renewal and many other government services is supposed to get online but to remain corrupt practices alive relevant officials are not providing those digital processes to be fully functional.

According to McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) report “Digital globalization: The new era of global flows”, “soaring flows of data and information now generate more economic value than the global goods trade” making “possible for companies to reach international markets with less capital-intensive business models”. Digital economy is contributing in increasing economic growth, expanding business opportunities, creating new jobs, improving public services delivery etc. with all these benefits digitization has few challenges like cyber security, cyber crimes, cyber war etc. to be careful about.

Now come to the point what initiatives could be taken to move from digital Bangladesh into digital economy. First initiative in this regard is to adopting relevant ICT skills in the curriculum of different levels to ensure demands of the proficiencies from the applied business sectors. Increasing use of digital technologies at work and adopting new skills in national curriculum. Adopting occupation specific generic ICT skills at worker level curriculum to make them able to use such technologies in their daily work like access information online or use software for a specific purpose.  Adopting curriculum relevant to the production of ICT products and services like software, web pages, e-commerce, cloud and big data etc. specialist skills to programs, applications and manage networks. Adopting ICT-complementary skills like capability to process complex information, communicate with co-workers and clients, solve problems, plan in advance and adjust quickly. At the same time attainment of sound levels of foundation skills constitutes a prerequisite for the proficient development of ICT generic, specific and complementary skills could make the curriculum digital economy friendly.

Secondly; government or donor funded development projects could be driven into establishment of digital infrastructures to make relevant business processes functional, secured, transparent and accountable. Without making the processes functional, or establishment of required infrastructures digital Bangladesh will not move into digital economy. Digitalization of enterprises and their functions is the prerequisite of digital economy. Globally its expansion speed is much higher than that of the product based economy. Services sectors especially government services delivery system digitization may be a good initiation of the digital economy movement.

Finally; spreading out of digital benefits throughout the country is still a major challenge of digital Bangladesh. Internet speed in the village level is remaining a major obstacle to start any productive venture. Therefore people’s congestion is rising in the major cities. Spread out of digital infrastructure into village level could reduce peoples flow to the cities too. Digitization of economy and entering into digital movement could offer quicker development of Bangladesh economy and achieving vision 2021, SDG 2030 and finally vision 2041 in time. Thus digital Bangladesh could be transformed into Digital Developed Economy of Bangladesh.

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