A leap in e-governance
Bangladesh has ranked 115th among 193 United Nations member countries in using information technologies to promote access and inclusion of people, progressing nine steps from its position two years ago following the government's move towards digitalisation.
With respect to Saarc countries, it lags behind Sri Lanka (94th), India (96th) and the Maldives (97th) and is ahead of Nepal (117th), Bhutan (126th), Pakistan (148th) and Afghanistan (177th). Myanmar has secured the 157th position.
The figures came on the UN E-Government Survey 2018 which was published on Friday. Conducted every two years, it comprises an E-Government Development Index (EGDI) and an E-participation Index.
Along with an assessment of website development patterns, the EGDI incorporates access characteristics, such as the infrastructure and educational levels, to give a composite measure of three important dimensions of e-government: provision of online services, human capacity and telecommunication connectivity.
ICT Minister Mustafa Jabbar expressed satisfaction on the development over the years but lamented that the results could have been much better.
“Bangladesh could have at least reached a two-digit ranking,” he told a press conference on the survey at the ICT Tower of the capital's Sher-e-Bangla Nagar yesterday. “We are now in the highest position (achieved till date) in all the indexes. However, our improvement might have not been reflected in all the studies.”
Bangladesh ranked 124th in 2016, 148th in 2014 and 150th in 2012.
The country is improving its position with respect to digitalisation at a much satisfactory pace but it is not reflected in the study, Jabbar said.
“There might be a problem in our reporting process. Without that, there is no other reason to stay 115th while Nepal is 117th,” said Jabbar.
Denmark secured the top position with 0.9150 (an average of the scores in provision of online services, human capacity and telecommunication connectivity) followed by Australia with 0.9053.
The remaining countries in the top 10 are Korea, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Finland, Singapore, New Zealand, France and Japan. Somalia ranked last.
Bangladesh's average was 0.4862, scoring 0.7847, 0.4763 and 0.1976 in the three respective areas. “We have done a lot in establishing networks up to the remotest parts of the country but it might have not been shown in the report,” said Jabbar.
The government aims to make Bangladesh one of the top 80 countries by 2021, 50 by 2030 and 20 by 2041.
Zunaid Ahmed Palak, state minister for ICT, said the government has already digitalised 40 percent of its services and the situation would improve within coming December when another 50 to 70 services would be brought under e-service platforms. “Within 2021, 90 percent of the 1,400 government services will be available online,” said Palak.
He said the country's position would be much better if “we can ensure interoperability systems in mobile financial service (MFS) and our mobile financial transaction could be expanded more than what was at present”.
Interoperability denotes the ability of an MFS provider to enable transactions with other providers.
The government is now working to establish an interoperable payment gateway and will pass an act to ensure the facility, which will boost e-services, Palak added.
Secretary to ICT Division Zuena Aziz, Access to Information Programme's (a2i) Senior Policy Fellow Anir Chowdhury and a2i Project Director Md Mustafizur Rahman also spoke at the event.