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Essay : Development of Information and Communication Technology in Bangladesh

Development of Information and Communication Technology in Bangladesh

Introduction : The advancement of Information Communication Technology makes the vast treasure of all forms of knowledge, information, inventions, methodologies, techniques, process and technologies from the entire globe available to us by accessing via internet. It is hopeful for us that Information Technology has already made inroads into our society, indeed into our psyche. For all its economic backwardness, Bangladesh has easily taken to the IT world. However, like many other developing countries, diffusion of Information technology (IT) is being severely restricted in Bangladesh because of poor telecommunication infrastructure, limited fixed time access, unreliable conductivity, and inadequate bandwidth. So, it will require some innovation from our part to take advantage of this vast knowledge base. 

What Information Communication Technology is : Information Communication Technology encompasses the generation of contents, processing, manipulation, storage, routing, transmission, switching, packaging, and usage of information to assist our day to day business. Faster processor like Pentium-IV smart software packages, high-speed transmission and routing capabilities with submarine cable for example, help us take the optimum benefit from this ‘Global ocean of knowledge’ that match our everyday needs. The knowledge from all the global sources are stored and continuously updated in thousands of servers which are interconnected via a network with very high-speed transmission and switching capabilities called internet. Here any internet user at any location of the globe connected via his local telephone or through a direct data link can have instant and open and free access to those server contents without any national boundaries. This is actually the strength of internet in which everybody’s knowledge is open for use by everybody within a global village for better living. 

Present state of ICT in Bangladesh : The use of computer started in Bangladesh in 1964 when the Atomic Energy Commission installed a multi-frame computer. Computers began to be used commercially from the mid-1980s and since then it has come to a long way and the last few years, in particular, have witnessed tremendous advancement in the use of computers. 

Due to government incentives like exemption of duties on import of computers and their accessories, a vibrant hardware market has developed in Bangladesh and the prices of hardware have come down substantially over the last few years. This trend has helped in the rapid expansion of ICT use in business and also at the household level. 

At present, there are some 61 internet service providers in the country with VSAT connectivity mostly through Hongkong and Singapore. 

All the ISPs are in the private sector and provide a range of internet services like e-mail, browsing, chatting PC to PC call, net to phone, e-mail to fax, etc. Today, cyber cafes have mushroomed in Dhaka and some other major cities. 

According to sources, Bangladesh entered into the optical fiber-based communications in 1989 through the installation of optical fiber cables for signaling in the Bangladesh Railway, the first of its kind in South Asia. The Grameen phone is now using this high-speed optical fiber channel for its nationwide communication network. 

Besides, at present, there are about one million fixed-line phones provided by the BTTB and about 20 million mobile phones provided by six cellular operators – Grameenphone, Citycell, Robi, Banglalink, Teletalk & Airtel Telecom. Despite this, there is still significant demand for telephones, particularly for Internet Connection. 

Development is done by ICT : by using ICT, we can design a number of domestic services which will significantly enhance productivity and efficiency. Here are some more examples to be enumerated : 

a. Decision-making process by each agency and ministry of the Government could be aided with ICT. In other words, e-governance may help us in quick and efficient decision making. 

b. The application of ICT in the very process of governance may bring transparency in the GOB’s operations. 

c. By using ICT, we can develop a simple and effective Tax collection system for NBR. 

d. Use of ICT in our education sector is also important for our national development. Because it will help us to develop an effective evaluation system for secondary and higher secondary education. 

e. Delay in the issuance of licenses by the GOB is a serious impediment in the way of industrialization and creation of a congenial business environment. In this regard, ICT can make the process easier and quicker. 

f. Use of ICT can make our banking sector more speedy, transparent and service oriented. It will improve customer services, reduce the cost of transactions and improve the delivery capacity of its facilities. 

g. By computerizing the entire traffic management system, we can bring discipline on the street and earn a good amount of revenues from the vehicle owners even to manage the traffic police and maintain the roads. 

h. ICT may be used in our manufacturing sector. It may provide us with higher productivity and lower cost and effective international marketing in the garments, jute, leather, frozen fish and packaged food sector. 

Actions needed to develop the ICT sector : 
1. Inventive capacity building : The inventive capacity enables a nation to develop, assimilate and adopt new knowledge for innovative use and development of IT for wealth creation. Such capacity includes academic research facilities, national laboratories and industrial R&D center Bangladesh should look into the development of such capacity by forming a partnership with industry and academia within a well thought out strategic plan. 

2. Innovative capacity building : Innovation capacity should be created to apply new knowledge in the form of new products services. The mechanism should be created for financing, protecting intellectual property, transferring new knowledge in industry managing innovation and doing marketing research. 

3. Entrepreneurial capacity : For entrepreneurial capacity building, support should be made available in the form of managerial knowledge, risk capital, business contacts, and physical facilities. Risks of staring hi-tech ventures should be managed so that a single failure must not jeopardize salmon’s carrier. Therefore, the adequate safety net should be developed to encourage potential entrepreneurs to get the risks of starting new ventures. 

4. Business capacity building : This capacity includes the size and growth of the local market, power, and telecom, the financial system, law and order situation, physical infrastructure trade bodies, taxation policy, trade relations with other countries an image of the country. 

Conclusion : We have outlined the potential opportunities which may become reality for Bangladesh through Information Communication Technology. Unlike many conventional theories, we do not see an immediate software export opportunity for Bangladesh by becoming competitive in IT-enabled services but we see the huge potential of domestic ICT for the significant improvement of economic productivity of Bangladesh in the production of goods and services both in government and private sector.

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