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       Volume 10 |Issue 40 | October 21, 2011 |


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Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at the inauguration of ‘Doel’.Photo: Star File


Digital Bangladesh' is a catch phrase that has long been over clichéd and made redundant. However, that does not mean efforts are not being made to change this state of affairs and the hardwork has not come without some returns. Infact, a few days ago Bangladesh has faced a change that can be called a 'huge digital step forward' by launching the first Bangladesh-assembled laptop “Doel”

Doel netbooks and laptops come in four different models: Primary, Basic, Standard and Advanced. The first three models are netbooks, and the Advanced model is a laptop. While the primary model is designed for simpler applications like e-booking or playing games, the advance model comes with all kinds of modern apps. There are also variations in design and the netbooks and laptops come in four different colours: red, silver and the usual black and white. But the unique feature of Doel netbooks and laptops lies in the operating system (OS). The OS is designed in both Bangla and English. As computer literacy in the rural areas is low due to incompetence in English, the OS is designed in Bangla. Moreover, it can always be changed to English, when needed.

“Doel” with its four different models is priced at Tk 10,000, Tk 13,500, Tk 22,000 and Tk 26,000. It was assembled by the state-run Telephone Shilpa Sangstha (TSS) in collaboration with 2M Corporation Ltd., Dhaka and TFT (Thin Film Transistor) Technology, Penang, Malaysia.

Doel comes as netbooks and laptops. Photo: Courtesy

“Our very own laptop is obviously a giant leap forward, however it is also important that our internet connection be improved and perhaps that is more important,” opines Anwar Hossain, a user of ipods and ipads, who feels rather marginalised due to the fact that his internet devices cannot be optimally used.

The most basic model that runs the android operating system is priced at Tk 10,000 (130 dollars), and is apparently the cheapest laptop in the world.

“Doel is a well intentioned initiative that will require much more than well- intentions, to succeed and reach the masses,” says Muaz Jalil, a development practitioner working at a private development project. “Late Steve Jobs was a great marketer. He dazzled the world with his innovative products which made Apple what it is today. Doel can learn a thing or two from the guru and try to follow in his footsteps. Although this time they have the much harder job of dazzling an audience who simply lack the deep pocket that Apple took for granted. Invention is not enough, people need to know about it and want to buy it. How is Doel to be brought into the scene effectively and put to good use? That is a challenge, the seriousness of which we may not be able to appreciate right now,” he adds.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina during the inauguration said that, "every part of the country would be brought under e-governance, while the telecommunication system is being modernised to cut the digital divide".

Bangladesh is currently producing ten percent of the components for the laptops and the rest are imported. Within six months, Bangladesh will be able to produce sixty percent of the components.

A Telecommunication Ministry official said the date for marketing of the laptop has not been fixed. “At first, several thousand laptops would be supplied to various government institutions for public services.” The government has taken up the project of producing locally-assembled laptops and netbooks with an aim to making this significant technology available to the people at a cheaper price which indeed is a noble endeavour. How successful it will be, we shall have to wait and see. Till then I am Doel, are you?



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