Saturday, June 22, 2024


Dhaka Tribune

Harnessing the digital revolution

Presenting the roadmap for Bangladesh's development into a ‘smart’ nation

Update : 22 Feb 2024, 04:26 PM

In the 21st century, the world is undergoing a transformative shift, and nations are increasingly recognizing the pivotal role that technology plays in shaping their future. With its rich history and vibrant culture, Bangladesh stands at the crossroads of this digital revolution. 

In an era marked by rapid technological advancements, Bangladesh has set its sights on a grand vision: Transforming itself into a "Smart Bangladesh" by 2041. For this transformation, it seeks a comprehensive roadmap for Bangladesh's smart development. 

Digital infrastructure: The backbone of smart development

Any journey toward smart development must begin with a robust digital infrastructure. Bangladesh has made significant strides in this direction, but there is still work to be done. The government should invest in expanding broadband access to rural areas, ensuring that every citizen, regardless of their location, has access to the wealth of information and opportunities available online.

Additionally, the establishment of data centres and the development of a secure and efficient digital payment system are crucial components of a modern digital infrastructure. These elements form the backbone of a smart nation, enabling seamless communication, efficient service delivery, and a thriving digital economy.

Education for the digital age

The success of any digital revolution hinges on the preparedness of its people. In Bangladesh, investing in education tailored for the digital age is paramount. The curriculum should be updated to include essential digital skills, coding, and technological literacy from the primary level onwards. 

Special emphasis should be placed on training teachers to effectively integrate technology into their teaching methods, ensuring that the next generation is not just computer-literate but technologically adept.

Furthermore, the government should collaborate with the private sector to establish technology hubs which can serve as incubators for startups and provide a platform for collaboration between academia and industry. By fostering a culture of innovation, Bangladesh can position itself as a leader for technological advancements in the region.

E-governance: Enhancing efficiency and transparency

A cornerstone of smart development is the implementation of e-governance. Digitizing government services not only enhances efficiency but also promotes transparency and reduces corruption. Citizens can access essential services online, from applying for permits to paying taxes. This not only saves time but also reduces the bureaucratic hurdles that often impede progress.

In parallel, the government must invest in robust cybersecurity measures to safeguard sensitive data. With the increasing digitization of services, ensuring the security and privacy of citizens' information is non-negotiable. A national cybersecurity strategy should be devised and implemented to protect against cyber threats and attacks.

Digital healthcare: The pillar of public well-being

The Covid-19 pandemic has underscored the importance of a resilient and responsive healthcare system. Technology can be a game-changer in this regard. Bangladesh should invest in digital healthcare infrastructure, including telemedicine platforms, electronic health records, and data analytics for health management.

Telemedicine, in particular, can bridge the gap between urban and rural healthcare access. It allows remote consultations, reducing the burden on urban healthcare facilities and bringing medical expertise to underserved areas. Electronic health records streamline patient information, improving the quality of care and enabling more effective public health interventions.

Fostering a digital economy: Opportunities for all

The digital revolution opens doors to economic opportunities that were once unimaginable. Supporting startups and small businesses in the technology sector should be a priority. This can be achieved through incentives, access to funding, and the creation of a conducive regulatory environment.

Moreover, the government should focus on upskilling the workforce to meet the demands of the digital economy. Training programs and partnerships with industry players can ensure that the workforce is equipped with the skills needed for the jobs of the future. By fostering innovation and entrepreneurship, Bangladesh can tap into the vast potential of the digital economy, creating jobs and driving economic growth.

Connectivity beyond borders: International collaboration

In an interconnected world, collaboration is key to success. Bangladesh should continue to actively seek international partnerships in technology and innovation. Collaborative research projects, knowledge exchange programs, and partnerships with leading global tech companies can also propel the nation forward. Learning from the successes and challenges of other nations on their digital journeys can inform and accelerate Bangladesh's own development.

Moreover, connectivity beyond borders can open new avenues for trade and investment. E-commerce platforms can facilitate cross-border transactions, boosting international trade. Building alliances with neighbouring countries and participating in regional technology initiatives can create a synergistic effect, benefiting all parties involved.

Sustainable digital development: Balancing progress and responsibility

As Bangladesh embraces the digital revolution, it must do so with a commitment to sustainability and social responsibility. The environmental impact of technology should be carefully considered, and initiatives should be in place to minimize the carbon footprint of digital infrastructure.

Additionally, measures should be taken to bridge the digital divide, ensuring that the benefits of the digital revolution reach all segments of society. Special attention should be given to marginalized communities, and initiatives should be implemented to provide them with access to digital tools and opportunities.

In a nutshell, the digital revolution presents Bangladesh with a unique opportunity to leapfrog into a future of prosperity and innovation. Bangladesh can chart a course toward smart and inclusive progress with a strategic and concerted effort, and emerge as a shining example of the positive impact of the digital revolution on a nation's development.

Md Ashikur Rahman and Anupom Sarker are freelance contributors and postgraduate students in Public Administration and Governance Studies at Jatiya Kabi Kazi Nazrul Islam University.

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