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ICT market jumps 23 times in 7-yrs

DHAKA, Sept 27, 2016 (BSS)- In 2008, the total size of the ICT (Information Communication Technology)market in Bangladesh was merely $26 million, but in a span of seven years a massive growth in the industry has taken place setting its appearance on the global stage hitting an unthinkable figure of $600 million.

"The sector witnessed such magnificent development due to relentless efforts by the government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and the involvement of her ICT Advisor Sajeed Wazed Joy who is continuously providing suggestions and monitoring the ongoing digital Bangladesh initiatives," State Minister for ICT Zunaid Ahmed Palak told BSS.

"He (Joy) is also monitoring the programmes taken by the ICT Division and the implementation of various programmes and projects in the digital field taken during the last seven years which have brought a dramatic change in taking the service delivery systems to the door steps of the common people," Palak added.

As envisaged and introduced by the present government, the concept Vision 2021, deemed as a blueprint for placing the country on the road to a digital world, a very strong supervision and monitoring system, implementation of prudent policies and diligent efforts have made Bangladesh shine so bright.

A manifold rise in the budgetary allocation has been made that gave this sector a further boost. In this year, about 1600 crore taka has been allocated in the national budget, up from Taka 200 crore seven years back.

The people of the country have been enjoying the internet bandwidth at a price which is very low. Now, it costs Taka 400 to subscribe each megabyte per second (Mbps) of bandwidth, while, in 2008, one had to spend Taka 27,000 to avail of the same facility.

"The story of such a rise speaks of a shining testament to the landmark attainment the country has accomplished in achieving its vision of Digital Bangladesh," said ICT secretary Shyam Sunder Sikder.

Revelation has it that the number of internet subscription in Bangladesh crossed six crore milestone as around 6.39 crore people gained access to internet, according to BTRC, which was only four million in 2008.

As was the envision, a total of 5275 digital centres have already been set up at union parishad, municipality and ward levels, one within walking distance of every village, according to data of Access to Information Programme of the Prime Minister's Office. Some 8,000 post offices are on the track to become digital centres as well.

The data of the Access to Information Programme show that the digital centres provide over 200 kinds of public and private services, including computer training, land registration, public exam results, government forms download, birth and death registration, online university admission, employment information, and mobile banking.

As of now, the decision is to build 12 high-tech parks around the country, and full-swing progress is being marked in the construction work of three such establishments. Once implemented, such institutions will open up employment opportunities for millions.

Last year, the government opened 60,000-square-feet software technology-park in which 16 companies moved in, 34 more are planning to do so soon.

In July this year, Bangladesh's first IT Incubation Centre was launched which is expected to create over 100,000 jobs in the coming years.

ôSome 25,000 tabs were distributed among the government officials from the ICT Ministry. The rate of accessing government services digitally increased drastically," Palak said, adding that "It's now 35 percent, compared to only 0.3 percent in 2008".

With the aim to make education accessible to all, works are underway to build up multimedia and digital classrooms and computer labs in each of the country's 170,000 educational institutions.

According to government estimates, around 23,500 schools have been equipped with multimedia classrooms alongside 5,300 labs were provided to different schools.

In addition, 24,122 teachers have begun training on the equipment. In
addition, Education Minister Nurul Islam Nahid recently announced that 31,340 institutions will soon be equipped with laptops and internet connections.