Prime minister Sheikh Hasina on Wednesday said that the government would set up a high-tech park in every district to flourish the ICT sector.
‘Necessary incentives will also be given if the investors come up to invest in this sector in proposed 100 economic zones across the country,’ she said.
The prime minister said this while inaugurating four-day Digital World, an ICT exposition, at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre with the slogan ‘Ready for Tomorrow’.
The ICT Division, in collaboration with Bangladesh Association of Software and Information Services, organised the exposition.
Sheikh Hasina called upon all to work together to build Sonar Bangla as dreamt by father of the nation through turning the country into a welfare oriented, peaceful, knowledge and science-based digital one.
The PM said, ‘The dream we showed the country’s people before the 2008 general election to make Digital Bangladesh is now a reality.’
In 2009 when the government assumed office only 13 lakh people of the country used internet and it crossed 8 crore within 8 years of time, she said.
The prime minister also said that people were availing of 200 types of government services ‘through mobile apps sitting at home.
Hasina said that the government took steps to take the government services to the doorsteps of people through reducing the prices of internet bandwidth, development of infrastructure and reducing the prices of digital equipment to remove the digital divide.
She said an opportunity of a new industrial revolution had been opened for the country with the flourishing information technology and Bangladesh could play a leading role with her huge number of young people which was the main element of industrial revolution.
Hasina said, ‘Although the number of work force is decreasing in the developed world for the use of information technology but, 65 per cent people of Bangladesh are under-35.’
The government has already taken multifaceted projects to turn the huge young force capable and suitable for the challenge using the demographic dividend of the country.
The prime minister said the prices of mobile sets and call rates had been reduced remarkably when her government in 1996 broke the monopoly of mobile phone sector by giving licenses to a number of companies. ‘At the same time, the services reached the remote areas of the country.’
She said her government set up union digital centers in 2010 which were extended to municipal and city corporation levels in 2013 and 2014.
Information services were made easily accessible to all through introduction of the biggest web portal with 25,000 government websites, she added.
Mentioning that her government was trying to make the young generation self-reliant by engaging them in freelancing, the prime minister said, ‘Bangladeshi freelancers attain the second position and will retain the top position soon.’
She hoped that about 20 lakh youths of Bangladesh would be involved in ICT profession by 2021.
Hasina said her government reduced the price of internet bandwidth to Tk 500 to Tk 1000 from Tk 76,000.
‘With the connectivity of the second submarine cable and giving international terrestrial facility to private sector, the internet services have marked a rise by 10 times,’ she said.
The PM said her government made the ICT education compulsory at the secondary level from 2011 and supplying computers and other necessary materials free of cost alongside setting digital classrooms.
Hasina said training programmes on ICT had been expanded across the country as about 50,000 youths were being given skill development training.
She said about 10,000 ICT graduates were coming out every year from universities and they were being able to attract the eyes of the world community.
Referring to the export of Bangladesh software and IT services to over 50 countries, including the USA, Europe, Canada and Australia, Hasina hoped that the software export would exceed one billion dollars this year while five billion dollars in 2021.
State minister for information and communication technology Zunaid Ahmed Palak, chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Post, Telecom and Information Technology Ministry Imran Ahmed, BASIS president Mostafa Jabbar, secretary of Information and Communication Technology Division Subir Kishore Chowdhury, also spoke at the inaugural session, among others.
Later, the PM talked to Sophia, a humanoid robot that generated quite a buzz among youths and the artificial intelligence industry around the world.
Hasina also visited different stalls of the exposition.
Some 170 companies, including Google, Facebook, Motorola and Qualcomm, have signed up for the exposition.
About 400 exhibitors from home and abroad are attending the event.
The event will remain open from 10:00am to 8:00pmevery day.
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