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ED: Getting the country online

  • Published at 02:34 am October 13th, 2020
phone hand technology digital smartphone
Photo: BIGSTOCK

If done right, this could eventually eliminate the so-called digital divide in the country

It is wonderful to hear that about 100 million people in rural Bangladesh are expected to have access to high-speed internet by the end of this year.

In the vision of a Digital Bangladesh, comprehensive and reliable internet coverage is, no doubt, a fundamental step. Right now, in spite of extensive and heavy mobile phone usage, some 54% of households in rural Bangladesh do not have internet access. Hopefully, all this is about to change.

The Department of Information and Communication Technology, through its Bangladesh Computer Council, had undertaken the highly ambitious Info Sarker-3 project back in 2016 with the aim of providing broadband internet services at the union parishad level. As such, broadband networks are currently being set up in 2,600 unions under 448 upazilas in some 63 districts.

Clearly, if done right, this could eventually eliminate the so-called digital divide in the country.

It must be remembered, though, that access is only the first step. It is necessary for the rural population to be digitally literate to properly make use of these services. If internet services get introduced by the government, then languish because very few are using them, then we are back to square one.

Digital literacy applies not just to households and regular citizens who are availing various services, but also to the government officials handling them. Often, bureaucrats, administrators, or law enforcement personnel are reluctant to adapt to online methods of doing things, lapsing back to the more traditional ways.

For a digital transformation to be meaningful, then, some amount of tech education is needed for all. True progress will only happen if we, as a nation, push ourselves out of our comfort zones.