The Secretary, Ministry of Science and ICT, Mr. Abdul Awal Mazumder; Your Excellency, Ambassador Verghese, Singapore High Commissioner to Bangladesh; Distinguished guests both here and also who are joining from Bhutan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan via Video conference; Friends from the media and civil society organizations,
Let me welcome you to this Information Communication Technology event for South Asia. I would like to thank the Government of Bangladesh for hosting this knowledge sharing event, as well as the Government of Singapore for jointly organizing this event with the World Bank.
The Government of Bangladesh is demonstrating visionary leadership in leveraging ICT for development through its support for the concept of Digital Bangladesh. Digital Bangladesh has generated public excitement and support, challenged the government to new ways of working and thinking, and inspired young people and entrepreneurs to innovate and solve problems through information communication technology.
This technology has become pervasive in our daily lives, yet it has so much potential that we have to fully tap, here in Bangladesh. For example, no other technology in human history has spread as rapidly around the globe as the mobile phone , with over 4.5 billion mobile connections globally. Mobile phones are being used for the delivery of various services, from health (disease surveillance); to agriculture market information, electronic banking and disaster warning systems.
ICT is a transformative tool that continues to change the world around us, impacting the global economy and societies in new and unimagined ways. ICT is changing the way that countries and governments around the world work, interact, and provide services to their citizens and businesses across all sectors – be it in governance, agriculture, rural development, health, or education.
Following a roundtable chaired by Robert Zoellick, World Bank President last year, the World Bank in collaboration with Governments and private sector is putting in place a Global Transformation Initiative (GTI). This initiative will share international knowledge on ICT enabled government transformation. The Singapore government is a key country partners who will provide knowledge sharing and capacity building services.
Singapore has been unusually successful in using ICT to accelerate the country’s development. Singapore has consistently being ranked as one of the top country in the world for e-Government and for ease of doing business. Its ICT applications have won international recognition and awards. Today in Singapore, over 2,000 government services are available online. They have leveraged on national electronic ID program, SingPass, that secures access to about 250 online government to citizens and business services, from registering companies, paying taxes, to accessing social security services, and getting access to healthcare and education services.
Drawing on the Singapore example, the Bangladesh Government’s vision of Digital Bangladesh can be a catalyst to improve service delivery to citizens and businesses in Bangladesh, connect rural communities to global information and knowledge, create jobs for youth and women, and accelerate the country’s development through the new knowledge economy.
Singapore’s journey has been remarkable with exceptional use of ICT to spur long term development. It will be beneficial for all us to hear about their initiatives and think about how to apply some of their experiences, so that we can maximize the use of this transformational tool in our respective countries.