Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Friday said that her government has given highest priority to the development of telecommunications and information technology as there is no alternative to ensuring the free flow of information for building a knowledge-based democratic society.
“Telecommunications and information technology have now become one of the main tools of socio-economic development globally,” she said.
The prime minister said this while addressing the inaugural function of the ‘World Telecommunication and Information Society Day-2013’ held at the Bangabandhu International Conference Center (BICC).
The theme of this year is ‘ICTs and Improving Road Safety’.
Presided over by Post and Telecommunications Minister Adv Sahara Khatun, the function was addressed, among others, by parliamentary standing committee chairman on the Ministry M Abdus Sattar. Additional Secretary to the Ministry Dilip Kumar Das delivered the address of welcome.
Bangladesh Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (BTRC) chairman Sunil Kanti Bose gave an overview on the significance of the day.
The prime minister said that information technologies have opened up the door of immense potentialities to reach services related to establishment of good governance, poverty alleviation, elimination of gender discrimination, proper distribution of resources and the basic public services to the remote areas.
Stressing the need for creating mass awareness on stopping talking on mobile phones while driving vehicles, Hasina said in order to check road accidents, her government has also been implementing various measures, including turning different roads into four-lane ones, formation of permanent monitoring teams to maintain roads and highways, formulation of national safety strategic action plan, introduction of retro-reflective number plates and radio frequency identification tag for vehicles and introduction of digital registration certificate.
“Training for vehicle drivers has also been ensured. As a result, the number of accidents is decreasing gradually and I believe that road and river route accidents could be brought down further with the successful use of information technologies,” she added.
She said the present government has formulated the ICT Act and ICT policy in 2009 announcing the information technology sector as the thrust sector to achieve its election pledge of building technology-based ‘Digital Bangladesh’ by 2021.
Hasina said that her government has attracted both domestic and foreign direct investment in this sector and expanded internet and other ICT services up to the village level.
“People are now getting 220 services, including information on various government forms, notice, passport and visa related and news of jobs, results of public examinations and registration for foreign jobs from some 4,554 union information and service centers,” she added.
Hasina said people are now doing banking, paying electricity and other utility bills, getting the results of soil test on agri-land and purchase of train tickets through mobile banking sitting at home.
“As a result, employment opportunities have been created and initiatives have been taken to reach such 700 services through ICT to people in phases,” she added.
The prime minister said her government during its previous term broke the monopoly in mobile phone business and this time spread its use up to the remote areas.
Over 10 crore mobile SIMs are being used in the country and the users of internet has risen to 3.20 crore as the government has reduced the charge of bandwidth as well as commercial production of optical fiber has begun, she observed.
Hasina noted that the country’s teledensity has doubled in the last four years to 67 percent and internet density increased to 25 percent while some 8,000 rural post offices and 500 upazila post offices have been transformed into e-centers.
Besides, the government has also introduced 3G technology network and the users are now getting high-speed internet services, video calls and watching television programmes.
The prime minister expressed her hope that it would be possible to build
‘Digital Bangladesh’ much before 2021 as there has been massive advancement in the path of building ‘Digital-Divide free’ Bangladesh in the last four years.
As part of enriching the new generation with information and technology-based knowledge, Hasina mentioned that the government has introduced computer education at primary and junior schools, established multimedia classrooms, computer labs, mobile IT labs and transformed 325 books in secondary level to e-books.
Sheikh Hasina said an ICT incubator has been established for flourishing talents in the ICT sector hoping that the ICT educated generation would innovate newer ICT applications which will help expedite the socio-economic conditions of the country and checking accidents.
The Prime Minister said Bangladesh became the member of ITU in 1973 with sincere efforts of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, and he had also launched earth satellite in Betbunia in 1975.
The present government has also taken initiatives for launching the country’s first satellite ‘Bangabandhu Satellite’ on the orbit and preliminary activities to this end has already been completed. “Bangladesh will make its place both in the air and on earth, and the government is working to this end,”
Earlier, the prime minister distributed awards and certificates among the winners of online essay competition.