The government yesterday declared Moheshkhali, one of the remotest islands of the country, a “Digital Island”, targeting to make it a model for the world in five years.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina made the declaration while inaugurating a project titled “Digital Island Moheshkhali” that connected the upazila of Cox's Bazar to high-speed internet, reports BSS.
A 22-kilometre fiber-optic cable has been installed in the island. With the introduction of the digital system, the island which can hugely contribute to the national economy has been digitally connected to the country's mainland as well to the entire world.
“Moheshkhali is a treasure, but we couldn't properly utilise it,” said the PM.
Zunaid Ahmed Palak, state minister for ICT, said the island is famous for fisheries, betel leaf and salt, but the local farmers hardly can market the products due to lack of communication channels.
“We've already set up an e-commerce centre over there where traders and farmers can train themselves and open a new window for businesses,” the state minister said from Moheshkhali when the PM launched the project through videoconferencing from the Gono Bhaban.
The Bangladesh government, Korea Telecom (KT) and International Organisation for Migration (IOM) are jointly implementing the Tk 22.35 crore project, which is scheduled to be completed by September next year.
The scheme will not only provide high speed broadband connection to all institutions of the island, but also improve the access to information technology for the people.
The broadband connectivity will also enable the island's 4 lakh people to get access to e-services in agriculture, education and health as well as other services of the government.
Under this project, 25 educational and local government institutions are already connected to high speed internet, said Palak.
The government was also taking support from different non-government organisations and mobile phone operators for the project. It was also looking for some other partners who could create an impact on improving people's lives, he added.
According to the state minister, the KT and IOM would monitor the infrastructure and services.
Earlier in February last year, the ICT Division inked a memorandum of understanding with the KT at Mobile World Congress to turn the island into a digital island.
Palak said the rate of education was very low in Moheshkhali and the government targeted to turn the uneducated people into human resources.
“Within the next few years, Moheshkhali will have power pants and a seaport. So, a lot of skilled manpower would be required and local people could be a resource,” he added.
Hasina said her government planned to introduce the digital system in the country's other remote areas in phases.
“More facilities would be available for us when Bangladesh's first satellite would be launched into orbit,” she told the programme.
Due to the project, the entire world would come under the grip of Moheshkhali people who would be able to know the world and maintain contact with others at home and abroad.
The PM said people would get better education and healthcare facilities, while a huge employment opportunity would be created through the implementation of the project.
IOM Chief of Mission Sarat Chandra Das and Cox's Bazar Deputy Commissioner Ali Hossain also spoke from Moheshkhali while CEO and Chairman of Korean Telecom Chang-gyu Hwang addressed from Seoul, South Korea.
Prime Minister's Adviser HT Imam, State Minister for Telecommunications Tarana Halim and South Korean Ambassador to Bangladesh Ahn Seong-doo were present at the Gono Bhaban.