Now at the dawn of the new millenniuma silent, much more powerful and all pervasive called Information Technology revolution is taking place across the glob. The term information technology or IT has been replaced by information and communication technology or ICT which involves collection, storage, processing and distribution of information. Computers, internet and electronic communication are integral parts of ICT. Texts, numbers, audios and videos are being exchanged throughout the world without space and time barrier. ICT has accelerated the pace of globalization. At the heart of the startling development in some of the developing countries there lies ICT. Countries having access to and control over information will dominate the world economically and politically.
While the huge march of the ICT revolution is going ahead in many countries, Bangladesh also try heart and soul to be a part of that revolution and increase their livelihood like developed countries. The problems were in Bangladesh surrounding ICT are manifold: very low telephone density, high charge of internet service providers, access of insignificant number of people to internet, the present low speed and efficiency of the communication system in the country, low pace of computerization in various offices and sectors, absence of cyber laws and many things more. In the backdrop of all these, some big events are already take place at our country. Now we have many software outsourcing IT firms, Call centers are starting from March 2008 as government call for trade license from February 2008, Bangladesh works with Intels World Ahead Program as well as doctor Younush and our government try our best to increase ICT quick and powerful sector. Bangladesh government already declare ICT as thrush sector. Rather that Bangladesh already connected to the information super highway as fiber optic backbone within the country and the fiber optic submarine cable connection is completed. In the new era we are amidst a digital communication system many thousand times more efficient, speedy and powerful.
In Bangladesh, in the ICT sector a large work force with different levels and various expertise is growing. Computer literacy is imparted, computer applications are taught, training given, diploma, bachelors and master’s degrees awarded. Training centers, colleges, computer institutes, private universities and public universities are all contributing in different ways. The related departments are IT, ICT, Computer Applications, Computer Science, Computer Engineering and Telecommunication Engineering. Steps for quality control of computer education of all kinds are already take place.
To reap the benefits of ICT we have to take it to the doorsteps of general people throughout the country. It is possible to open a huge number of cyber centers in the small towns and villages in the country. The cyber centers can be a place where people will get opportunity to send and receive e-mail and can have telephonic talk over the internet. These are the places where people will have access to internet for information on agriculture and business, health service and can have education, entertainment and so on through internet. All post offices can work as cyber centers, in addition to their normal present duties. These cyber centers can be economically profitable for the entrepreneurs. One may raise the question how the illiterate and ill-educated village people can understand English. It may sound like a fiction, but in near future we will find texts in English converted to texts in Bangla, more surprisingly to voice in Bangla! Extensive researches are going on in India to convert text in English to voice in different Indian languages including Bangla. The success is round the corner.
Electronic governance or e-governance is much talked about in this information age. In Bangladesh it can make the government more efficient, transparent and effective. Besides, it can generate an experienced IT workforce which cannot only earn money within the country but fetch huge amount of money from abroad. Although the ultimate hope of IT revolution depends on private enterprise, it is the introduction of e-governance that can trigger the IT revolution in the country as it covers all sectors and the whole country. In e-governance, government can give information to public and public can have access to important information and documents of the government. Public opinion may be sought on various issues as interaction between public and government can be built through internets and websites. People can vent their grievances and lodge their complaints.
Through internet our administration is going to connect with each other from prime minister office to TNO offices. So quick decisions are possible which will provide faster implementation to take the nation to the new era. . Through intranet Home Ministry can be connected with BDR, Coast Guard and Ansar Head Quarters and SP offices which in turn can be connected with all thanas. Thanas can have information of all recorded crimes and investigation reports. Electronic databases may be used to store details of crimes committed, list of criminals along with their biometric signatures in the form of photographs and fingerprints. Reliable biometric devices and related software are already available in the market.
Videoconferencing to accelerate decision making reducing the cost of travel and accommodation will result in huge cut in the cost of governance. Progress of different projects in distant places can be monitored from the capital city and divisional headquarters. Tender advertisement and tender bidding for government purchases can be done using the internet. Status of various projects of public interest could be displayed through a web site. All information about different stages, starting from the initial conception of a project, to approval of the project, floating of tender documents and ending up with the awarding of the contract to the bidder could be made available to the general public for the sake of transparency. Advertisement for various posts in the government sector may be put up on the websites of the ministry concerned and candidates may apply through internet.
Government should immediately take steps to create a Central Data Bank for the entire population. Electronic ID cards should be made for each individual. That ID card can be used for voting, opening a bank account, having a license or passport, giving tax or income tax, for obtaining job and so on. Various utility bills like power supply, water supply, gas supply and telecommunications can be paid by consumers through internet. They can interact with these utility agencies regarding inaccurate bills or other complaints.
Bangladesh has great potentialities for earning corers of dollars in foreign currency by providing ICT-enabled services to the foreign buyers. Bangladesh has a time difference of twelve hours with North America and other main market which makes possible easy delivery of ICT enabled services. Availability of large number of computer-trained young people with English base on the one hand and cheap wage of the trained manpower on the other puts Bangladesh in an advantageous position. Political will of the government manifested in the declaration of ICT as a ‘Thrust Sector’ and its desire to turn Bangladesh into an ICT driven country will definitely help. The prospective ICT enabled services are call centers, medical transcription, data entry, back office processing, insurance claim processing, salary processing, engineering design, translation, animation and many things more.
Some firms in Bangladesh are producing quality software which have great demand both at home and abroad. They, however, face severe competition from the foreign firms as many Bangladeshi buyers have a tendency to buy ‘foreign’ products. Additional taxes may be imposed on foreign software to boost the local firms. Government will need a large number of software for e-governance and this may give the local talented software developers an opportunity to improve their expertise and gain experience. This will ultimately improve their prospect of getting orders for software from abroad.
Through internet there has been an explosion of information, creation of transparency and a tremendous opportunity for acquiring knowledge and doing research in all disciplines. People have access to libraries, books and journals through internet. Distance education and virtual teachers are made possible widely by using ICT. In Bangladesh education and research can get a strong boost by exploiting all these opportunities.
Telemedicine or e-health care has a great future in Bangladesh. Patients in the remote places can consult the doctors over the internet. In the future distant analysis/transmission may be possible. Using telemedicine, doctors and other caregivers can consult with specialists thousands of miles away, provide diagnosis and treatment, continually upgrade their education and skills; and share medical records and X-rays. Telemedicine or e-health care can be of great help for the health of the rural people. A village can be linked to the health services available inside and outside the country.
Rural economy and health care can be substantially improved with the application of ICT. Farmers can have continued specific advice regarding fertilizers, choice of crops and timing of sowing for their individual plots. They can learn relevant technology. Growers can know the current prices of vegetables, fruits etc. throughout the country and can make their strategy for timing and place for sale of their products.
Taking the advantage of nationwide infrastructure in telecommunication, IT enabled services could be set up in rural areas. Businesses will take the advantage of low cost of office space and lower wages. Standard of living in rural areas will grow. Educated rural youths will get employment. This will help lower the rate of migration to big cities.
Electronic commerce or e-commerce covers many forms of trade of goods and services, all of which rely on the internet to market, identify, select, pay for and deliver these goods and services. Although it originated in developed countries, e-commerce has changed the perspectives of entrepreneurs the world over, including the remote areas of developing countries. E-commerce and e-banking or online banking is in its nascent state in Bangladesh. We should develop e-commerce culture to create such buyers who would expect quick service and supply. Bangladesh can specialize in e-service, any service that can be provided through internet. More and more services will emerge which will be just appropriate for providing through internet.
The established Incubation Centre at Kawranbazar, Dhaka with data transmission facility and uninterrupted electric supply will attract companies involved in software and IT enabled services to start their business from the centre. The nation is now eagerly waiting for the establishment of the High Tech Park with all modern infrastructural facilities planned at Kaliakair near Dhaka, which will be a milestone in IT industry, high tech industry and R&D in Bangladesh.
The Bangladesh government approved the National ICT policy in October 2002 with the aim of building an ICT-driven nation comprising a knowledge-based society. ICT Task Force with Prime Minister Begum Khaleda Zia as the chairperson has been created for making policy decisions regarding various ICT related activities. A project “Support to ICT Task Force” primarily for introducing e-governance is being implemented. It is much felt that there should be a Centre for E-governance Initiative which will oversee the total ICT implementation in the country thus coordinating all ICT activities. An important and essential unit of this centre should be a National Data Resource Centre where all the information and data can be stored.
To help the ICT sector flourish in the country, there is a great need for an effective legal framework. Suitable legal reforms can create an ICT friendly legal environment which will help this sector grow by attracting investment. A recent amendment of the Copyright Act 2004 incorporating issues related to ICT will reduce the piracy of copyright of an individual or a company. Software, animation and web page can have copyright using this act. Our much desired paperless environment and filing system in our offices needs certain legal protection. To create a smooth environment for e-commerce, to safeguard the dealings over the net and to check the threat to computer communication ICT law should be passed in the parliament. The law needs to have a legal framework that recognizes digital signatures and other electronic documents and have enough provisions to check cyber crimes, which are not covered by existing law of the land. In order to let the IT sector take off, government should pass a comprehensive cyber law without any further delay. Bangladesh is passing through a juncture where the present government has the opportunity to take the nation successfully into the digital world and can thus play a historic role at the dawn of this new millennium.
According to The World Summit on the Information Society, Geneva Phase, at its Fifth Plenary Meeting, 12 December 2003, adopted the following Plan of Action (WSIS-03/GENEVA/DOC/5): Bangladesh also take action to implement it within 2015.
The objectives of the Plan of Action are to build an inclusive Information Society;
a) to connect villages with ICTs and establish community access points;
b) to connect universities, colleges, secondary schools and primary schools with ICTs;
c) to connect scientific and research centers with ICTs;
d) to connect public libraries, cultural centers, museums, post offices and archives with ICTs;
e) to connect health centers and hospitals with ICTs;
f) to connect all local and central government departments and establish websites and email addresses;
g) to adapt all primary and secondary school curricula to meet the challenges of the Information Society, taking into account national circumstances;
h) to ensure that all of the world’s population have access to television and radio services;
i) to encourage the development of content and to put in place technical conditions in order to facilitate the presence and use of all world languages on the Internet;
j) to ensure that more than half the world’s inhabitants have access to ICTs within their reach.
In giving effect to these objectives, goals and targets, special attention will be paid to the needs of developing countries, and in particular to countries, peoples and groups cited in paragraphs 11-16 of the Declaration of Principles.
Bangladesh‘s GrameenPhone to launch mobile Internet
DHAKA : Bangladesh’s leading mobile phone service provider, GrameenPhone (GP), will launch the country’s first wireless application protocol (WAP) Internet service later this month, a company official said on Sunday. “People can use their cell phones to send and receive e-mails, visit different WAP sites and can have access to news, weather, sports and other essential information,” Syed Yamin Bakht, a deputy general manager of the company, told Reuters.
GrameenPhone was currently testing the service, and its introduction would be a milestone in the development of information technology in Bangladesh, Bakht said. He said mobile phones were gaining popularity among the country’s 113 million people. There are total of 430,000 mobile phones and 624,000 fixed phones in Bangladesh. “GP has sold 103,000 pre-paid and post-paid mobile phones in just 10 days last month,” Bakht said.
GP has 360,000 subscribers, and will invest $460 million by 2003 to increase its capacity. Investment over the past three years totaled $160 million.
GrameenPhone is 51 percent owned by Telenor, a state-owned Norwegian telecommunication firm. Bangladesh‘s Grameen Telecom owns 35 percent, Japanese Marubeni Corporation holds a 9.5 percent stake and Gonofone Development Corp, a New York based development company, has 4.5 percent.-Reuters
Intel will help to develop education and ICT structure in Bangladesh:
World largest microprocessor developer company Intel’s chairman Craig Barrette visited Bangladesh last 4th September to opening Intel’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) program World Ahead in Bangladesh with Grameen Solutions. His visits set positive affect in Bangladesh ICT sector by starting World Ahead Program which divided into four modules: accessibility, connectivity, education and content.
Intel World Ahead Program: To confirm the right of use of information technology within development countries, Intel now takes their ‘Intel World Ahead’ program. It is Intel Corporation’s social welfare program to remove digital difference between developed and under-developed countries. The main goal of the project is to bring to light of information technology third worlds millions digitally desisting and without any convenient and opportunities people. This project gives facilities of using high-speed internet and implementing information technology as educational equipment to upgrade third worlds total education sector.
Intel’s World Ahead Program works based on four major subjects. Those include education, communication, opportunity and subject. After starting from 1968, Intel Corporation has given priority on educational sector. Their main goal is to use information technology as educational equipment. They give focus on education’s realistic syllabus/curriculum and teachers training. Intel will give ICT training among one million teachers of developing countries within five years. Except this, Intel will give one million computers among rural inconvenient students to teach them information technology. Intel’s World Ahead Program works to give opportunity to vast use of information technology.
Except donate computers, Intel works together with government and local organization of different countries. Their motive is to easy use of computer to help human’s work. To confirm highest use of information technology people need easy communication, connection and internet. Internet connection is now unavailable to under development countries. To solve this problem Intel’s World Ahead Program works. Their target is, to connect everyone with internet by warless technology. To implement their goal they need proper content. Active and rich subject related content would need to take usual information through internet. Intel works together with government and local organization to create/prepare rich contents, which will give all types of information to satisfied peoples need. With all this Intel’s World Ahead Program want to give economical freedom and help people for proper development. South Africa’s more villagers upgrade their lifestyle through this program.
By this program Intel will helps to develop Bangladeshi Information Communication Technology (ICT) infrastructure. By this program Intel will give us following facilities:
- Intel will provide/distribute one thousands Personal Computer among different schools of our country within next three years.
- By collaboration with government Intel will work to help to develop Computer research center among 68 district of Bangladesh within 2008.
- In the same time Intel will work to provide high speed internet connection through wireless wai-max technology infrastructure into rural schools of Bangladesh to develop our educational quality.
- Intel will also give teacher student training, develop different educational content in local language for provide better quality education in Bangladesh.
- Craig Barrette said “Intel will help both formal and non-formal education sector in Bangladesh”.
- For easier communication with local government Intel will help to work on eGovernance with government. To develop vast informational infrastructure they also jointly work with local organizations.
Dr. Mahammad Yunous said “Intel and Grameen will work together to spread better quality education in rural village by providing education and technology to develop expert people”. Intel’s World Ahead Program will help to easy use of technology, internet connection, quality education and develop reach content to give perfect information for rural people. It will create good Investment opportunity near future in ICT sector of Bangladesh. The basic primary education for better development with world wide technology and methods implementation will keep strong action for develop expert generative power. In this field, we will implement CaSA Framework to help international standard quality education for rural people. Except this, there is another issue of ICT infrastructure development. By keeping Intel’s Worlds Ahead program as starting era we develop ICT sector as a strong sector for Bangladesh near future. To achieve this goal every one should sincere and far-sighted thinking. Government should have to develop such a platform, which will encourage technological organizations like Intel to future investment in Bangladesh. For this reason, we need proper electricity supply, high-speed internet infrastructure, give easy condition for business management, expert generative power.
Outsourcing Call Center Services:
Bangladesh is now trying hard to grab a share of the multi billion dollar outsourcing pie by gearing up to join the bandwagon. Licences for the country’s first-ever telephone-based call centres are soon to be issued. Holding out the prospect that Bangladesh will soon join the billion dollar global business.The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC), which is the licensing authority has invited individuals and firms to apply. Reports suggest, the first licences maybe issued by end of february. Bangladesh is also planning to have first of its own telephone based call center in country. The ministry and the corporate figures of country is amazed by the growth and the wealth generated by its neighbour India by this Call Centre, BPO industry. The move to set up call centres in the country has been prompted by the regulator’s belief that a ”financial revolution’ will be possible in Bangladesh if the country allows the speedy development of the Information Communications and Telecommunications sector.
A call centre is a physical place where customer and other telephone calls are handled by an organisation, usually with some amount of computer automation. Typically, a call centre has the ability to handle a considerable volume of calls at the same time, to screen calls and forward them to someone qualified to handle them, and to log calls. Call centres are used by mail-order catalog organisations, telemarketing companies, computer product help desks, and any large organization that uses the telephone to sell or service products and services.
Daily Prothom-Alo 5 and 6th September.
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