Access to Information Programme Prime Minister's Office
Access to Information Programme
Prime Minister’s Office
BA C K GR O U N D
Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) are recognized as a powerful tool for socio-economic development. With appropriate policies, supplemented by realistic strategies, ICTs are known to have brought tremendous welfare to people in terms of better access to information, job creation, and enhanced public services through efficient governance and diversification of economic opportunities. Today, the adaptation and usage of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) is increasingly being linked to the national economic development and subsequent human development for the countries of the world. Countries are using ICTs to participate in the international economy, to exploit emerging technologies for the betterment of their citizens, to modernize institutions and markets. Bangladesh, like most developing countries, recognizes the potential of ICTs as an unprecedented lever for economic emancipation as well as an enabler for poverty reduction and human development – both of which are of equal importance. E A R L Y E F F O R T S : I CT AS A S E C T O R
The realization that ICTs can be an important enabler for Bangladesh’s development is not new. The early efforts in this regard were directed towards developing ICT as an export sector and a potential area of employment generation for ICT graduates. As early as 1991, the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) with support from United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and International Trade Centre (ITC) undertook an initiative to explore market potential of ICTs. Through a series of meetings and seminars, the key issues were identified and corrective measures were suggested. Another project of Ministry of Science and Technology with support from UNDP and United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) in 1992 involved identification of problem areas and drafting of recommendations to promote ICT export of Bangladesh. In both cases, however, no follow-up action appeared to have been taken.
One of the most recognized efforts in this regard was taken in 1997. A committee was formed with Professor Jamilur Reza Choudhury as its convenor to explore the potential of an export oriented software industry in Bangladesh. The committee comprised of representatives from the government, industry, and academia, which submitted its report in September 14, 1997. Several of the recommendations of the committee were implemented which, in many ways, shaped the modern discourse around ICT in Bangladesh. Establishment of Bangladesh Association of Software & Information Services (BASIS), formation of ICT Task force headed by the Prime Minister in 2000, substantial reduction of government levies on ICT imports, etc. can be traced back to the recommendations made in that report. The report of the committee, often referred to as the JRC report, captured the imagination of common citizens and government alike, created renewed political commitments of the subsequent governments around ICTs. IC T A S D E V E L O P M E N T E N A B L E R
World over, the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) in development programming is a relatively new concept. In 2000 ICTs assumed a new prominence, when the United Nations and G8 group of industrialized countries flagged ICT for Development (ICT4D) as a global development priority by declaring that, “everyone, everywhere should be enabled to participate in … the benefits of the global information society”. The subsequent publication of UNDP Human Development Report titled Making New Technologies Work for Human Development in 2001 was a landmark effort to explore the use of new technologies for the benefit of common citizens of the world. The renewed interest influenced the UN General Assembly to adopt...