Youths with latest technology will take the country forward: HPM Sheikh Hasina


Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina opened a four-day Digital World expo in the capital urging youths to be 'Ready for Tomorrow' to turn in reality of Bangladesh's dream with the ICT sector.

"We have wielded the youths with latest IT technology. So the whole world in their fist now and I hope that they will take the country forward and make the dream of Bangabandhu true," she said.

The prime minister said this while inaugurating the expo at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre (BICC) here yesterday morning.

Sheikh Hasina hoped that the ICT sector would be one of the largest contributors to country's economic development by 2021 as promising youths have already showed off their capacity in this field.

"Bangladesh's economy is progressing fast with 7.28 percent annual growth. We won't need to have a look at any other sector if we can exploit the potentialities of the ICT," she said.

The premier said the youths of Bangladesh can easily adapt to any new invention. So they would be able to make anything possible in this sector, she added.

Bangladesh's foreign exchange earnings would reach US$ 5 billion a year by 2021 which is now one billion dollar, the prime minister said.

Laying importance on research and innovative activities, the premier also said there is no alternative to build innovative capacity and conduct constant research for flourishing information and technology sectors.

Sheikh Hasina urged all irrespective of political thoughts and opinions to come forward for building a prosperous digital Bangladesh to be enriched science and information technology sector.

Chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Ministry of Post and Telecommunications and Information and Communication Technology Imran Ahmed and President of Bangladesh Association of Software and Information Services (BASIS) Mustafa Jabbar also spoke on the occasion with State Minister for ICT Zunaid Ahmed Palak in the chair.

Subir Kishore Chowdhury, secretary of the ICT division gave welcome address while a documentary on the progress in the ICT sector was screened on the occasion.

"Digital World, 2017" is being held this year under the auspices of the ICT Division with the slogan of 'Ready for Tomorrow" as part of continuous process to ensure the development of Bangladesh through digitalization.

Official sources said around 400 exhibitors from Bangladesh and abroad including policy makers, senior government officials and ministers, industry leaders, civil society spokespersons, investors and multinational software vendor are taking part in the event.

Highlighting various steps taken by her government to build a Digital Bangladesh, the Prime Minister said Bangladesh is now the country with world's largest web portal containing 25,000 websites of the government organizations. The web portal has made information services available to the people, she said.

"Today's Bangladesh is a Digital Bangladesh," she said, adding that in 2009, only eight lakh people had access to internet and only after eight years, the number of beneficiaries has been increased to eight crore.

At present 130 million people use internet compared to only 40 million in 2009. More than 200 civic services were made available to the people through mobile phone, she said.

Sheikh Hasina said ICT has made the lives of the people more easy and comfortable. As well it has created enormous opportunity to reduce "Digital Divide".

In addition to establishing an Innovative Design and Entrepreneurship Academy, the Premier also said, the government has been providing grants, stipends and scholarships for research and innovative development in the ICT sector.

A new platform namely "Start-up Bangladesh" has been built and Bangladesh Bank and Investment Corporation of Bangladesh (ICB) have Equity and Entrepreneurship Fund including Venture Capital Credit for entrepreneurs, she said.

The Prime Minister said her government is always careful about the development of the country and living standard of the people. The dream that showed by Awami League to the people of Bangladesh to build a 'Digital Bangladesh' is a reality now.

Acknowledging the facts of learning ICT literacy from her son Sajeeb Wazed Joy, the Premier said her government after taking office in 2009 waived all taxes on the import of computer and accessories, opening up the ways of building a Digital Bangladesh.

Later, organizers introduced Sophia, a latest and most advanced robot and most fascinating attraction of this year's exposition, with the Prime Minister. They exchanged pleasantries and talked about the different aspects of ICT advancements in Bangladesh.
The Prime Minister also visited different stalls of exhibition and witnessed the new innovations in the IT sector at home and abroad.

Sheikh Hasina said her government is making constant efforts to make the youth folks self-reliant through giving training on freelancing job in IT sector. Bangladeshi youths have made their position among ten top largest freelancing organizations in the world, she said, adding in terms of number, Bangladesh is the second largest country in the world.

By 2021, she also said more than two million Bangladeshi youths would join the ICT profession.

The Prime Minister said the government has given drastic tax waiver on 94 IT components. Only symbolically one percent tax has been imposed on those items, which has generated huge enthusiasm among local and foreign investors, she said adding the government is ready to extend all possible support to the investors of IT sector.

Photo: Saiful Islam Kallol

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