Third international gateway for Bhutan through Bangladesh
Lyonpo D. N. Dhungyel, Minister for the Ministry of Information and Communications led a two member delegation to participate in Digital World 2016 held on 19th October, 2016 in Dhaka, Bangladesh. The visit was on the invitation made by ICT Division under the Ministry of Posts, Telecommunications and Information Technology, People’s Republic of Bangladesh. The event was organized to showcase ICT products, its potentials, and opportunities that ICT offers. It also provides a very good platform to exchange ideas, experiences, and even help to establish network amongst IT/ ITES Industry leaders, experts, policy makers, government officials, entrepreneurs and academicians.
In conjunction to Digital World 2016, another event titled “Ministerial Conference” was also organized for leaders from the region to share their respective experiences in the field of ICT sector development and challenges surrounding the event’s theme “Digital Transformation”.
During the Digital World 2016 opening ceremony graced by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, it was noted that Bangladesh has been able to fast track their ICT development. The vision of 2021 - “Digital Bangladesh” appears quite promising and achievable with the pace of the development taking place. The key pillars of Digital Bangladesh identified are the developing human resources ready for the 21st century, connecting citizens in ways most meaningful to them, taking services to the citizen’s doorsteps and making the private sector and market more productive and competitive through the use of digital technology.
In facts and figures, Bangladesh has established around 5000 Union Digital Centers ( UDC) similar to Bhutan’s Community Centers. From these UDCs, 115 million e- services have been rendered during the last four years. Many government services have also been digitalized enhancing more accessibility to the citizens. Telemedicine has also been implemented which allows remote doctor consultation from the nook and corner of the country. In order to facilitate hosting of these services, the government has also taken immense initiative to build their own data center. Currently, most of the services are operated by a tier3 data center. Given the critical dependency on these services, the government has also planned to establish tier- 4 data center to meet the growing demand. On the outset, the move towards Digital Bangladesh is on track, and is seen to be accomplished for the People’s Republic of Bangladesh.
Most of the initiatives undertaken as part of overall Digital Bangladesh have commonalities with the efforts initiated by Royal Government of Bhutan. The main advantage of Bangladesh is the accessibility to bigger commercial network such as SEA- ME- WE- 4 which allows leveraging full potential of ICT as development enabler. With SEA- ME- WE- 5 planned to connect by April, 2017 Bangladesh will to able to tap more opportunities from the huge bandwidth.
Bhutan, on the other hand, has limitation on choices of international connectivity. At present, Bhutan’s initiative to bring in FDIs has not been materialized to its full potential because of its single point- of- failure as posed by Siliguri’s “chicken- neck”. Moreover, the cost of internet in Bhutan has also impeded the development progress of ICT industry in Bhutan. With the Government’s initiative to establish third interna- tional gateway through Bangladesh, it will help Bhutan to address these issues. One takeaway from the event for Bhutan has, therefore, been the accessibility and affordability of Internet.
The minister and the team are also scheduled to visit Cox’s Bazar to see the Submarine Cable landing Station and to meet the senior officials of the Bangladesh Submarine Cable Company Limited.
On return from Cox’s Bazar on 21st October, 2016 a meeting is scheduled with the State Minister of Posts and Telecommunications of Bangladesh, Begum Tarana Halim to further discuss on the modalities of getting additional bandwidth and an alternate International Redundancy Gateway.
Lyonpo also took part in the 20th Triennial Conference on Awami League, on behalf of the Prime Minister taking place on 22nd and 23rd of October in Dhaka, and will return to Bhutan tomorrow.