Vol. 5 Num 1141 Tue. August 14, 2007  

Ensure access to ICT to boost rural economy
Experts tell workshop

Ensuring access to information and communication technology (ICT) for the rural people would help reduce the cost of doing business and boost rural economy, experts at a workshop said yesterday.

Once the rural people are equipped with information about agriculture, health, education, legal and human rights, prices of agricultural produces and government services, they would be empowered enough to improve their living condition, they added.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Bangladesh Telecentre Network (BTN) organised the two-day 'Workshop on Sustainable Community Based Electronic Centre (CeC)' at IDB Bhabhan in the city.

Speaking at the programme, Co-ordinator of CeC team of UNDP Naimuzzaman said around 700 telecentres, under the umbrella of BTN, are operating in rural areas to provide information through internet service. Besides, a number of private telecentres also operate in different areas, he added.

But in most cases, contents available on the web portals are not demand-driven, he observed.

The requirements of the people are not the same throughout the country, he said, adding that people living in the hilly areas of Chittagong may not need the same information required by the people living in haor areas.

Besides, experts should also address the language barrier, he said. Most people in the rural areas are not accustomed to textual information on the web portal, rather they would easily understand information containing pictures and voice.

He also said that if the forms of different service providing agencies could be downloaded from these telecentres and be submitted through Internet, people would not have to undergo hassles merely to collect and submit forms.

Speaking at the inaugural session, Deputy Country Director of UNDP Larry Maramis said Bangladesh has marked considerable growth in information and communication technology since 1980s.

He also said that with the establishment of telecentres across the country, people's access to information would be easier and their cost of doing businesses would reduce.

BTN President Abdul Muyeed Chowdhury said, "We plan to establish 40,000 telecentres across Bangladesh by 2011."

Research Director of Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies Dr Asaduzzaman, Country Director of International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) Dr Tawfiq Elahi Chowdhury and Executive Director of D.Net Dr Ananya Raihan also spoke at the programme chaired by Programme Manager of e-Governance and Development Cluster, UNDP, KAM Morshed.