2000 more unions to get ICT facilities in Bangladesh
In line with the present government's vision to build 'Digital Bangladesh' by 2021, ICT facilities will be expanded to 2000 more unions in the country by this year to reach such facilities to the doorsteps of the rural people.
"Against the backdrop of tremendous success in 102 unions, the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) facilities will be expanded to 2000 more unions by December this year," Mohammad Nazrul Islam Khan, national project director of Access to Information (A2I) Programme under the Prime Minister's Office, told BSS on Friday.
Khan added that the government has also a plan to set up union information centres (UICs) in all 4484 unions by 2011 with a view to bringing the country's total population under ICT facilities.
With the expansion of the ICT facilities, he said, a huge number of people will get offline and online facilities such as different government forms and information about agriculture, health, education, legal aid, human rights and employment.
Besides, services like composing, printing, photo, scanning, email, internet browsing and multimedia projector will be provided to the rural people at a nominal price, he said.
After assumption of power by the present government, he said, such 102 UICs were set up under the joint initiative of the Access to Information (A2I) Programme of the Prime Minister's Office and the National Institute of Local Government (NILG).
The UNDP has been providing financial as well as technical assistance to this end, he said, adding that the existing 102 UICs will get fibre optic connection by this year.
"The most modern technology has brought about revolutionary changes in the life and living of a huge number of people of 102 unions," said Manik Mahmud, a consultant of A2I Programme.
"The people of the unions now get all information about agriculture, education, health, business, sports through the UICs and make invaluable contribution to the socioeconomic development," he said.
Manik said the UICs would be run in future under the public- private partnership and an agreement to this end has already been signed between Bangladesh Computer Council (BCC) and Bangladesh Telecentre Network (BTN).
In this regard, the A2I Programme has been providing field- level training to the concerned people, he added.
Earlier, community-based e-centres (CECs) were set up in two unions under a pilot project of Democratic Government Thematic Trust Fund (DGTTF) in May 2007 with a view to reaching the ICT facilities to the doorsteps of the rural people.
The unions were Madhainagar under Tarash upazila in Sirajganj district and Mushidhat under Setabganj upazila in Dinajpur district.
Later, the CECs were included in the Driver Project of A2I Programme with the financial assistance of the UNDP, sources said.
"The people of my union are benefiting immensely through the CeC as they get information easily about agriculture, health, education, law, human rights, employment and marketing," said Mohammad Waheduzzaman, chairman of Madhainagar UP.
Earlier, people of the union had to go to upazila headquarters for such information and different government forms like passport and driving licence, but they can now collect those from the CeC, he said, adding it has given the union a new lease of life which was almost dead two years ago.