World Bank Supports Digital Bangladesh through National Identification System
WASHINGTON, May 10, 2011 – The World Bank today approved a US$195 million concessional credit for the Identification for Enhanced Access to Services (IDEAS) Project to assist the Government of Bangladesh in developing a reliable and accurate national identification (ID) system that will enable efficient and transparent delivery of benefits and services to the people, particularly the poor. Establishing a full-fledged and reliable national Identification system would significantly improve the delivery of public and private services. The system will be built upon the existing voter-list database by the Bangladesh Election Commission. Identification numbers and cards will be issued to about 90 million Bangladeshi citizens of age 18 and above within next five years. Modern technology will be used to produce robust national ID cards to protect the citizens from fraud and forgery. “A comprehensive national identification system will transform the way in which public services, including social benefits, are delivered to recipients,” said Ellen Goldstein, World Bank Country Director for Bangladesh. “It will also assist in better planning, minimizing corruption and increasing transparency in service delivery.” The project also serves as the foundation for the Government’s “Digital Bangladesh by 2021” program, which envisions the mainstreaming of information technology as a pro-poor tool to reduce poverty, establish good governance and ensure social equity. “An important foundation for effective service delivery is the country’s capacity to identify citizens accurately and quickly,” said Junghun Cho, Project Team Leader. “The system will assist public agencies in identifying and verifying the identities of citizens as well as compiling data that would help focus social programs to those most in need. It is also expected that private sector entities, such as banks and mobile companies, will benefit from their increased capacity to verify service users.” The core information available through the system will also help track many other transactions undertaken by the public sector, including collection of tax revenues, and systematize a wide range of record-keeping, from land ownership to utility connection. The IDEAS Project would aid Government’s effort to establish a reliable and authoritative national identification system that can serve as an efficient, secure data platform. The project would focus on developing a legal and policy framework for the national identification system, upgrading data quality, and supporting the strengthening of the Bangladesh Election Commission to administer the national identification system. The credit is from the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank’s concessionary lending arm. The credit carries a 0.75% service charge, a maturity of 40 years, including a 10-year grace period. For a link to our latest blog post, moving towards a 'Digital Bangladesh': http://blogs.worldbank.org/endpovertyinsouthasia/moving-towards-digital-bangladesh
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- Sajeeb wajed ahmed
Ministry of Science & ICT, Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh and D.Net is going to arrange the launching ceremony of the contest for National Digital Innovation Award 2011 that will be held on January 30,2011 at 10.30 am in BRAC Centre INN, Mohakhali, Dhaka. Architect Yeafesh Osman , Honorable State Minister, Ministry of Science & ICT has kindly consented to be the chief guest. The program will be chaired by Mr. Nazrul Islam Khan, National Project Director, Access to Information(A2I) program, Prime Minister’s Office while Mr.Mahfuzur Rahman, Executive Director of Bangladesh Computer Council (BCC) Will be present as Special Guest on the occasion.
"I have been delivering sugarcanes habitually in the Faridpur sugar mill since 1976. Like the other 10 farmers around, I also have got the opportunity of getting loan without interest, fertilizers, pesticides and elements for irrigation. When the sugarcanes are grown enough to be crushed, we deliver them in the sugarcanes after receiving the purjee and when the crushing season is over we get our money. Though we faced a lot of troubles, we were used to the purjee system. But getting purjee through SMS service has created a revolutionary effect among the sugarcane growers. Half of our sufferings have been reduced. We no more have to wait for the purjee or to plead with other people. One single SMS has changed our way of life." –this is how Mohd. Shahidul Islam (53), a sugarcane grower of the Magura district was describing the beneficial effects of the e-purjee service.
Industries minister Dilip Barua underscored Wednesday the need for political stability to draw more investment from home and abroad for industrial growth in Bangladesh.
"Both domestic and foreign investment is a must for industrialisation. We need political stability and unity to win investors' confidence," Mr Barua said while launching the online investment registration system of Board of Investment (BOI) in the city.
Lauding the present Awami League-led alliance government's pledge to ensure more industrial contribution to gross domestic product, the minister said establishment of industrial units is a long-term process, it can not happen in a year or two. To this end, the minister said that the government was trying to ensure an atmosphere conducive to businesses, especially for the private sector growth. The minister said the online registration of the BoI would help create an enabling atmosphere for business and investment in the country. "It will attract more investors from home and abroad and prop up the investment activities in particular." The new system will simplify investment registration procedures for local and foreign investors with a new online registration service system by reducing time and unnecessary documentation and hassle. The minister referred to the government's issuance of guidelines for formulation, appraisal and approval of large, medium and small projects under Policy and Strategy for Public-Private Partnership (PPP) 2010 for accelerating economic growth. He said the growth target may not be achieved unless the industrial activities are boosted and unless the regulatory agencies like BoI, BEPZA, BSCIC and Ministry of Industries provide prompt services to investors and remain accountable.
Image: ICT award for e-content and development-2010(Left) and Nomination for Manthan Award (Right)Using Information Technology for development though not up-to-the-minute in the international perspective, it is not so getting on as well in the perspective of Bangladesh. In the leadership of the honorable Prime Minister, with the maximum use of Information Technology the 'Vision-2021' is moving forward to its triumphant accomplishment. To ensure service at the doorstep of common people innovative ideas of e-service have been implementing constantly. E-purjee is such an innovative step through which 1.5 lac sugarcane growers will be benefitted directly. The implication of the pilot project of e-purjee service last year in the two sugar mills has been appreciated on both national and international level. The SMS based e-purjee service has achieved recognition worldwide as well.
With the success of the implication of the pilot projects, the e-purjee service has won in the e-seba category, in the Digital Innovation Fair-2010. Along with this, it has also achieved the national award in the e-inclusion and livelihood category, in the "ICT award for e-content and development-2010". D-net, a private corporation for development organized this award program in assistance with the Ministry of Science, Information and Communication Technology. Moreover, e-purjee service has been nominated in the e-agriculture and livestock category for the "Manthan Award South Asia-2010" arranged by India.
But the most effected award is the recognition purjee as a life betterment tool form the 1.5 lakh Sugarcane farmers.
The honeymoon period for the newly installed Government led by Awami League is yet to over. The landslide victory of Awami League in the last election has given the new government of Sheikh Hasina an enormous task of meeting people’s aspirations. Different analyses of the electoral results have revealed that the young generation who consist of more than one third of the voters had indeed brought this overwhelming victory for AL. With many other reasons, implicitly it can be inferred that voters of this generation while exercising their franchise considered party manifestos seriously. Presumably the visionary approach of AL’s manifesto, entitled ‘a charter for change’ might have allured the young voters much, especially its ‘Vision 2021′ which envisions a ‘digital Bangladesh’. Let us now explore the buzzword digital Bangladesh. What does it really mean? Moving towards digital Bangladesh does not imply that the urban young groups of the country will be more sophisticated consumers of high-tech devices like computers, digital cameras, latest model mobile sets or camcorders etc. based on high-speed Internet infrastructure and promote the dejuice culture. Rather discarding this superficial notion, we need to consider the term ‘digital Bangladesh’ objectively. Broadly speaking, a digital society ensures an ICT driven knowledge-based society where information will be readily available on line and where all possible tasks of the government, semi-government and also private spheres will be processed using the state of the art technology. So, a digital Bangladesh must guarantee efficient and effective use of modern ICT in all spheres of the society with a view to establishing good governance. In other word, making Bangladesh a digital one, we have to establish technology driven e-governance, e-commerce, e-production, e-agriculture, e-health etc. in the society emphasizing the overall development of the common people, the major stakeholders of the country. Due to globalization, more specifically due to booming of ICT like most of the countries on the globe, Bangladesh has already been connected with the outside world. Yet in the field of ICT, our only grand success lies in Mobile telecommunication which has brought an abrupt change in telecommunication scenario of the country. However, in the other spheres of ICT, our achievement is very insignificant and we are still far away from transforming ourselves into a knowledge-based society.
Building strong ICT infrastructure is the pre-requisite for making Bangladesh a digital one. For this, we need to focus on the following relevant issues assessing the harsh reality that hinders our development in this context.
a) Power deficit: Latest statistics reveal that Bangladesh faces a power deficit of up to 2000 MW against a demand of 5000 MW daily. It may be noted that for proper ICT development an uninterrupted power supply is a must.
b) Network infrastructure: Outside Dhaka, at present a few computer network infrastructures have been developed so far. Apart from some educational institutes outside Dhaka, observation finds that most of the LAN setups are Dhaka centric. This observation reveals the reality of the digital gap even within the country.
c) Use of Internet: For the ICT development Internet users of the country must be increased. In this case our position is the worst one among the South Asian countries. The latest statistics (ITU, 2007) revealed that Internet penetration in our country is only 0.3%. Whereas, in Pakistan and India, it is 7.3% and 5.3% respectively.
d) Under sea submarine cable: Since 2006, Bangladesh has been connected to worldwide Internet Super High Way through an under sea submarine cable. But this single submarine cable frequently faces disruption resulting in slow bandwidth.
e) Network Readiness: Networked Readiness Index (NRI), developed by the University of Harvard, measures the propensity for countries to exploit the opportunities offered by information and communications technology. The NRI seeks to better comprehend the impact of ICT on the competitiveness of nations. The NRI is a composite of three components: the environment for ICT offered by a given country or community, the readiness of the community’s key stakeholders (individuals, businesses, and governments) to use ICT, and finally the usage of ICT amongst these stakeholders. Unfortunately, the latest survey (2006-7) revealed that Bangladesh’s NRI ranking is one of the lowest among the Asian countries.
f) Use of open source software: Many countries (e.g. France and Malaysia) have started to use open source software in ICT development projects for cost effectiveness. Unfortunately, in our ICT development domain the culture of using open source has not yet been introduced.
g) English literacy rate: From different sources, it has been learnt that, English literacy rate in Bangladesh is less than one percent. Whereas, English literacy rates in India and Pakistan are 60% and 20% respectively. There is a strong correlation between English literacy and ICT development in the present context of globalization. In the arena of ICT English has become the Lingua-Franca. On the other hand, we have not localized Bengali in the domain of computing. Hence, English literacy is a must for our ICT development. Unfortunately, in this case our position is the worst in the sub-continent.
Though the above accounts seem to be frustrating one, these can be easily overcome within a reasonable span of time if we can establish good governance in the country. Since independence, Bangladesh has been critically suffering from poor governance. Lack of vision, corruption, lack of transparency, weak coordination, undemocratic decision making were the salient features of our past governments. These can also be marked as the major barrier to the overall progress of Bangladesh. However, the newly installed government which has called for changes, hopefully, will establish much expected good governance to keep up with people’s aspiration.
For making a digital Bangladesh by 2021, the government must address the above stated issues effectively and efficiently in transparent manners. In many cases we need to reformulate our national policy (e.g. education policy, ICT policy) in accordance with the Millennium Development Goals. In reformulating the ICT policy, we will need to take a pragmatic and visionary approach so that it can curb the prevailing digital gap in the society. Moreover, the journey towards a digital Bangladesh needs the incorporation of the technologically solvent innovative younger generation. If the leaders of our country objectively guide this generation, they can do wonder for the nation. After all, the young generation always looks forward and they can help bring about positive changes in the society.
Sajeeb Ahmed Wazed put his 1st political statement .Sajeeb Ahmed Wazed, the son of prime minister Sheikh Hasina, in his first overtly political comments since joining the party of his mother and founded by his grandfather, blamed the “post ’75 governments” for the poor image of Bangladesh. Internationally reputed IT Specialist and Computer Scientist Sajeeb Wazed Joy on Saturday underscored the need for turning the concept of digital Bangladesh as a ‘Nation Brand” for the county to revive its image in the international arena. “The government is working for making Digital Bangladesh as a “Nation Brand” to create positive image of Bangladesh abroad,” he said while speaking at a seminar on Developing a Positive Image of Bangladesh’ the first ever digital innovative fair at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Novo Theater here. The budding politician, who became a primary member of the ruling Awami League last month, was speaking on Saturday at a seminar on ‘Developing A Positive Image of Bangladesh’, at the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Novo Theatre, named after his grandfather, the country’s founding president who was assassinated in 1975. Post-’75, it took Awami League 21 years to come to power again. Sajeeb said the governments in that time were only concerned with keeping a hold on power, but building a positive image of Bangladesh was a priority for the present Awami League-led government.
“To build a positive image of the nation we need three things: stability, continuity and commitment,” he told the seminar, which also marked the end of a three-day Digital Innovation Fair in Dhaka. “The present government with its slogan of ‘Digital Bangladesh’ is committed to take the advantages of digital technology to the door-steps of everyone,” Sajeeb added. Answering questions in the seminar, he said the government would ensure better and cheaper internet bandwidth by this year. Professor Syed Ferhat Anwar, of Dhaka University’s Institute of Business Administration, presented the keynote paper on ‘Branding Bangladesh’. “Bangladesh is attaining growth and has lots of potential to become a popular destination for investment and tourism.”