October 31, 2023
DHAKA – The best use of digital public infrastructure (DPI) and artificial intelligence (AI) will eliminate the digital divide in the country with the help of Smart Bangladesh initiative, experts said yesterday.
“Digital transformation in many countries is creating a new class of marginalised people. And using the DPI approach, we will eliminate the digital divide and reach zero digital divide — a promise from Bangladesh,” said Anir Chowdhury, policy advisor.
He was speaking at an international conference titled “DPI and AI for #ZeroDigitalDivide” at Intercontinental Dhaka. The two-day conference, which started yesterday, is being organised by the government’s Aspire to Innovate (a2i) in collaboration with the ICT Division.
It focused on the feasibility of realising an inclusive and digitally-empowered world through optimal use of DPI and AI.
DPI comprises digital resources and services for the public, including internet access, open data, cybersecurity, digital identity, e-government services and open source software while ensuring accessibility, affordability and security to promote digital inclusion and societal advancement.
Zunaid Ahmed Palak, state minister for ICT, said there are possibilities for prosperous and sustainable development through the use of DPI and AI.
He said Bangladesh has delivered digital services to marginalised people using a bottom-up approach over the past 14 years.
“We have delivered civic services to villages through more than 9,000 digital centers. Many of the entrepreneurs of these digital centers are women,” he said.
“We have to keep working to bridge the gender-based digital divide by reducing the labor force participation gap and empowering women to play a greater role in leadership and decision-making,” he added.
MA Mannan, planning minister, said the country is moving towards building a smart Bangladesh after successfully implementing its vision for a Digital Bangladesh.
He said Bangladesh is now one of the fastest-growing countries in the world, but added that the digital divide needed to be bridged to ensure sustainable development by 2041.
Md Shamsul Arefin, secretary of the ICT Division, also spoke.
The event was moderated by Samira Zuberi Himika, senior vice-president of the Bangladesh Association of Software & Information Services.