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Last updated: 5th September 2019
Press Release

Statement of Honourable Foreign Minister Dr. A. K. Abdul Momen: “Certificate Awarding ceremony for the Workshop titled “Bangabandhu- Cambridge Policy Simulation Lab” held today 04 September 2019 at State Guest House Padma

 

Distinguished Professors, Excellencies, Colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen, 
Assalamu Alaikum, peace be upon you. 

Good afternoon.


I am privileged and humbled to be here today at the Certificate Awarding ceremony for the “Bangabandhu- Cambridge Policy Simulation Lab”.  I understand that it is a milestone event marking our institutional approach towards mainstreaming innovation in the policy domain of the government. 
 
Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

Under the dynamic leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Bangladesh has came a long---- it was once known as a basket case with no hope of survival but now, it is a vibrant economy, a home of 165 million people.  As per British Spectator Index, the owner of which also publishes the Telegraph, GDP growth rate of Bangladesh from 2009 till to-date is 188%, the highest in the world.  The next in line are Ethiopia with 180, China with 177 and India with 121 index.  And as per Asian Development Bank, among all the 45 Asia-Pacific countries, Bangladesh’s GDP growth rate is the highest for this year and it is 8.13% and we are proud of it.  We have also successful to reduce our below poverty level by more than half from 42% to 21.3% now.  The extreme poverty has reduced from 25% to around 11%.  These are good news yet we cannot be complacent as nearly 33m people still live below the poverty level.

 

We are yet to reach the dream of our Father of the nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman to transform Bangladesh into a Sonar Bangla, a land of prosperity, peace and stability where every citizen will have guaranteed food, clothing, shelter, medical and education facilities.  Everyone will have equal access to opportunities. However, we are moving towards it.

 

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina outlined her Vision 2021 by when we hope to be a Middle Income country, Vision 2041 by then we hope to achieve Sonar Bangla. And we also proposed to achieve all the 17 goals of SDGs. These cannot be achieved in vacuum. Therefore, government has undertaken series of measures one of which is Digital Bangladesh.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

Bangladesh has two major resources; one is water and other is human resources.  Unfortunately, if these resources are not correctly managed, for example, if we fail to manage our water resources, it may inundate the nation with sufferings. Similarly, if we fail to provide gainful employment to out huge population, we may not be able to enjoy demographic dividend.  We are lucky that nearly 49% of our population is below the age of 25 years and nearly 75% of our population is below the age of 45 years.  To engage them in the nation building efforts, our Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in December 2008 outlined her vision of “Digital Bangladesh” or ‘Din Bodoler Shapna’ highlighting four key priorities and these are :  

(a) Developing human resources ready for the 21st century; 

(b) Connecting citizens in ways most meaningful to them; 

(c) Taking services to the citizens' doorsteps and 

(d) Making the private sector and market more productive and competitive through the use of digital technology. 

 

After ten years and counting, Bangladesh witnessed some remarkable progress and developments in utilizing technology to bring tangible transformation in all the four areas during the last ten years. The government has ensured people's easy access to public services by setting up national web portal of 25,000 websites and 5,275 Digital centers all across the country including Kukri Morki, a remote island village. The services that used to take weeks and months, now with Digital innovations, takes only few minutes and the cost of service also dramatically reduced. In addition, travel time is also minimized and pollution of environment has reduced. Such services are available even to remote villages and Prime Minister’s a2i office and out IT Ministry are constantly evolving newer technology. All 18,500 government offices have now been brought under the same network by establishing connectivity. Recently, our Foreign Ministry installed ‘Dutabash”, a digital Aps through which we hope to provide nearly 34 different services to our 11.2 million expatriate communities in minutes and seconds instead of weeks and months that we are used to.  The government also has taken an initiative to provide quality training to youngsters and by 2021, we propose to reach nearly 2 million IT professionals who will not only look for jobs and submit resumes, but they may become entrepreneurs. Their work places will not be confined in small office rooms and in fact, in this Digital borderless world, they can serve any nation from their sweet homes.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

We believe that, to materialize the dream of a Digital Bangladesh, both the public and the private sector need to work together to create five (05) vertices in the technology domain. 

We need “Systems” with flexible and adaptable design. 

We need “Infrastructure" which are both available and affordable and can host multi-level networks. 

We need ''Capabilities’’ which can both create and sustain superior technological efficiency.

Fourth, we need ''rule of procedure'' which helps creating enabling regulations and non-constricting enforcement mechanisms. 

And last - but not the least, we need unwavering Intent - or commitment from the highest policy-making authority to conform to the continuation of the digital evolution.


Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is existential in nature. However, this rapid evolution in digital architectures, digitalization, robotic, and intelligent automation will have a verifiable impact on the way both lives and livelihoods are design in the future.  What will be the nature of work? How would an office space look like?  Would certificates and matriculations matter? Would acquired skills be the only denominator of a human existence? How would societies be construed?  Will the communities of the future be inclusive or will they be hyper divided? 

My dear friends, don’t worry. We have observed that when job lines perished - new ones are created. 

Where do we - as in Bangladesh fit in?

 

These are questions - and I must admit - very difficult ones - which need to be asked, debated and discussed.  But not with fear, rather, with hope and determination.  We are a nation of victors, we achieved our independence by rock-solid determination and we had to sacrifice 3 million lives.

 

We believe that with the creative energies and determination that we harbor as a nation - if we could connect our mainframe administrative and productive platforms to a certain measure of design innovation - Bangladesh will pass through the eye of the needle successfully.  

 

The challenges of Industry 4.0 revolution can and will be overcome with knowledge - both in skill development and innovation - to cope with the changing technology frontier. 

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I personally believe, it is creativity, innovation, knowledge, competition, competitiveness, and most importantly, motivation and networking that are engine of growth and performance excellence.  The Bangabandhu–Cambridge Policy Innovation Programme is the newest addition to the growing portfolio of innovation initiatives of the Bangladesh Government. 

 

We hope to make this programme with the University of Cambridge as a mission to the "knowledge domain" by applying a combination of socio-eco-systems and engineering design methods developed by Cambridge’s Resilience and Sustainable Development Programme (RSDP), in the post-LDC Bangladesh context. I would like to congratulate the distinguished participants who have successfully completed the four (04) days program. You all are success stories, you have completed your programs, we applaud you.  However, that’s not the end.  Now you have greater challenges.  May I take this privilege to challenge you to share the knowledge and experience you have gathered here and implement it in your domain thoroughly and successfully so that it really helps your country and your people. I have no doubt that together in collaboration and partnership, we will make a technology driven knowledge based society for good of mankind.

I thank you all. May God bless you.

  
Joi Bangla!

Joi Bangabandhu! 

2019-09-04

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