The ICT division is set to embark on a Tk 1,227.42 crore project to connect 2,600 union parishads through fibre optic cables.
The government's purchase committee approved the project last week, which will be implemented by Bangladesh Computer Council (BCC) to provide internet and other connectivity to the local government offices.
Under the “national ICT intra-network for Bangladesh government phase-III”, which is also known as Info Sarker-3 project, the government will also build some other digital infrastructure at the union level, said Shyam Sunder Sikder, secretary of the ICT division.
“We will now finalise the development project pro-forma that will have all the development details,” Sikder said.
There are some other formalities that need to be completed before placing the project before the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council for final approval, he said.
Meanwhile, Bangladesh Telecommunications Company Ltd (BTCL) is running a project to connect 1,100 union parishads through fibre optic cables, at a cost of Tk 718.07 crore.
The project of BTCL will be completed by December this year and 950 unions have already been connected, said Md Moinuddin, the project director. The state-owned company will soon take a new project to connect another 1,000 unions, he added.
The ICT division is aware of the BTCL project, said the ICT secretary. “We will connect the union parishads that are yet to be connected.”
There are 4,600 unions and they are the smallest rural administrative and local government units.
The government has already appointed China Railway International Group for the Info Sarker-3 project.
China's Exim Bank will provide 104.28 crore yuan or around $156.56 million as low-cost loans, according to the project summary.
Countrywide fibre connectivity will be established by 2018, while this project is part of the government's efforts to build a Digital Bangladesh by 2021, said officials of BCC.
Earlier, the ICT division also completed Info Sarker-2, a Tk 1,333.44 crore project, which connected 18,130 government offices through a nationwide network. The project concluded in June this year.
Under this project, the ICT division distributed 2,500 tablets to government officials.
BCC also connected Bangladesh Secretariat, seven divisional and all district and 485 upazila level government offices under this project, officials of the ICT division said.
They also established 800 video conferencing systems, 254 e-agriculture service centres, telemedicine services in 25 healthcare centres, disaster data recovery centres and specialised training labs at universities across the country in the last two years.
Besides, a Wi-Fi network was installed in the secretariat and 25,000 tablet PCs were distributed to government officials under the Info Sarker-2 project, which was mainly financed by China.
“Info Sarker-3 is actually an extended version of the two previous projects,” said Sikder, the ICT secretary. Before completing this project, BCC also ran another project named Bangla Gov Net worth Tk 350 crore to connect district offices of the government through fibre optic cables.