According to Minister of Information Hasanul Haq Inu, internet penetration has skyrocketed in the past four years, with coverage now reaching 98 per cent of the country. “When we took over this government, there were around 1.5 million internet users, but that increased to 40 million,” he says.
Currently, there are close to 100 million mobile phone subscribers in Bangladesh, compared to 10 million in 2005. Moreover, GSM technology has enabled nearly 30 million people to access internet on the go.
“Our mobile phone connectivity is as good as it is in most developed countries,” says Anis Dowla, Chairman of the diverse business group ACI Ltd. All major mobile operators in Bangladesh are foreign and for Mr Inu, this direct investment is a consequence of the government’s “good policies, measures and laws” implemented and enacted to protect their investments.
Finance Minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith says that by 2018 the Government aims to establish multimedia classrooms in every school and wants to expand the broadband network by 40 per cent. The Finance Minister has also proposed allocating Tk500 million (£4.1 million) for an intensive training programme to create up to 10,000 ICT professionals over the next two years.
“We are talking to big giants like Microsoft,” adds the Information Minister. “Bill Gates has visited Bangladesh twice, and we are talking to CISCO, Intel, etc. about working together to produce Microsoft-certified people.” Under the banner of “Digital Bangladesh”, which forms an integral part of the Bangladesh Awami League party’s Vision 2021, the Government is investing in the more effective and constructive use of technology in the fields of education, health and even poverty reduction.