March 24, 2016
Yesterday, Bangladesh launched export of bandwidth to India while India began export of another 100 MW electricity visibly setting a milestone in expanding bilateral ties with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi joining a videoconferencing from their respective capitals to mark the event. India started supplying 100 MW power from its northeastern Tripura state to bordering Comilla of Bangladesh while Bangladesh launched supply of 10 GBPS bandwidth from Cox's Bazar to Tripura's capital Agartala. Tripura's Chief Minister Manik Sarkar also joined the videoconferencing from Agartala.
The World Economic Forum (WEF) has nominated State Minister for ICT Division Zunaid Ahmed Palak as one of the Young Global Leaders of 2016, in recognition of his far reaching initiatives and innovative leadership in enhancing quality of life of the general people by leveraging information and communications technology. This achievement of Palak, who is also an AL MP, has been lauded by different quarters of the society.
According to a team of experts of the World Bank, the launching of its new trade portal by the government of Bangladesh will be making import and export information ever more easily accessible to traders interested in doing business in the country. Activation of the portal will also help the investors comply with regulatory requirements associated with the importation and exportation of goods while the culture of transparency and accountability would also be established with the use of this portal, said Ashish Narain, the WB Group's head of the South Asia Regional Integration for Trade and Investment team.
Being stripped off their voting rights to elect the secretary general and other key rank and file in different bodies of BNP, a significant majority of the grass-root activists and leaders have vented their anger and rage on the party chief Begum Khaleda Zia. According to media reports, all the key posts, at the recently held national council, were filled up upon selection, at the whim of Khaleda Zia, in a stark violation of the party charter that asks for an election. Local activists went on record blasting Khaleda for her all out authoritarian role, accusing her of nepotism and attributing incidents of bribery behind the decisions.
A move is underway to amend an existing law aiming to extend the facilities of a special trust fund, set up under the supervision of Honourable Prime Minsiter Sheikh Hasina, to ensure no post graduate student is deprived of higher educational opportunities only for having a lack of financial assistance. Once all the proceedings are completed, students pursuing post-graduate, Master's, MPhil and PhD will be entitled to receiving the fruition of the unique scheme, that since its inception, has already helped millions of school and college goers in the pursuant to become educated.
This week, the Canadian Minister of International Development Karina Gould has come up with a round of high praise as regards the steps and initiatives, being devised and put in place, by the Bangladesh government, to bring down the prevalence of early marriage to a zero level in the country. The appreciations were bestowed by the respected dignitary during a meeting with the Bangladesh State Minister for Women and Children's Affairs Meher Afroz Chumki in New York. Astonishing achievements in women empowerment and gender equality have made Bangladesh a shining example for the world to follow.
To build up skilled manpower to expedite further ICT development, Prime Minister's ICT Affairs Advisor Sajeeb Wazed Joy has said the government has targeted to train up to 75,000 professionals in the sector in the next three years. During an interview with CeBIT Podcast in Germany, the ICT expert mentioned the enviable successes as regards bringing 35% population under internet coverage from a mere .3 %, making the use of internet ever more cost effective, introduction of the 3G spectrum under the current government. Since 2009, the Awami League led government has been implementing "Digital Bangladesh", the aspiration to turn Bangladesh into a technologically advanced one by 2021.
Rajshahi Water and Sewerage Authority (RWASA) proceeded with a mega project to set up a water purification plant to ensure supply of pure drinking water for city dwellers. To be constructed within the next four years, this construction comes as part of a 40-year water supply management master plan to ensure safe drinking water for every city dwellers. This plant will carry water through pipeline from the Padma River, purify it and then supply it to all 30 wards while all the old pipelines and hydrants of the city will also be repaired and renovated under the project.
A ten-year long action plan has been formulated and set in motion by the central bank as part of the government's efforts to replicate it's amazing successes in achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in implementing the sustainable development goals (SDGs) by 2030. Under the plan, actions will be taken to formulate pro-poor, inclusive and sustainable monetary policy, agricultural credit policies and programmes for poor farmers, SME credit policies and banking services for poor and underserved, in addition to pro-poor credit policies and programmes, and financial inclusion policies.
While ensuring access to safe drinking water still remains a daunting task around most part of the world, Bangladesh, in a giant leap, has brought its 91% people under safe water coverage, according to the findings revealed at a seminar this week. Speakers have also revealed all the newer efforts that have been put in action to introduce environment friendly water management system and to ensure arsenic mitigation, lower of water table and contain the climate change impact and rampant pollution.
Works are rolled out by the government to take a project worth $100 million aiming at developing climate-resilient enterprises to ensure sustainable livelihoods for the vulnerable community. All the poor and ultra-poor communities living in four climate hotspots - flood, flash flood, drought and salinity-prone areas will be the beneficiaries of the project while it will be operated in some 40 upazilas of 20 climate change-vulnerable districts and benefit some 0.1 million people.
In light of the Universal Health Coverage of the World Health Organisation (WHO), the government will distribute smart health insurance cards among 30,000 poor families in the first phase under its "Health Protection Programme" to provide modern healthcare services free of cost. Health insurance cards will be distributed to provide healthcare services to the tune of a maximum Tk 50,000 to one member of each of the families while medicare services for 50 specified complicated diseases including fever, cold, cough, fractured bones, gall bladder, appendicitis, hernia and complicated heart and kidney ailments will be introduced from district and sub-district level public hospitals.
Breaking away from the conservative attitude, Bangladesh has been witnessing a rapid rise in recent times in the number of female overseas job-seekers and the rate is higher than any time in the past. Widespread campaign, skill development training and workplace safety have been largely attributed to this success. It is to be noted that exploration of new countries for manpower export owing to the successful labour diplomacy by the government played a key role for achieving this feat.
Power and Energy
The Rural Electrification Board (REB) has undertaken a project to install 5 million prepaid meters, replacing the electro-magnetic meters from all Palli Bidyut Samities in the country. The government has undertaken various projects for the REB to reduce hassle of the customers and bring more rural people under the electricity coverage. Ongoing REB activities of constructing distribution lines and providing connections are aimed at bringing 92% people under power facilities by 2018. Currently 76% people are enjoying electricity access due to bold and dynamic leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. There is a plan to bring all citizens under power access by 2021.
Following a competitive bidding, a consortium of Chinese Geo-Jade Petroleum Corporation and US's Longwood Resources has been selected to explore and develop four onshore gas fields in Bangladesh under a joint venture (JV) with state-run Bapex. Exploration and development works at Patiya, Jaldi, Kasalong and Sitapahar in the hilly areas in the country's southeastern region will be carried out while the Bapex would own a stake following negotiation with the contractor.
The draft of the National Industrial Policy-2016 has been endorsed by the cabinet this week to speed up the nation’s march towards graduation to the middle income status through boosting rapid industrialization. As per the new draft, the industrial sector has been divided into five categories – high-priority, priority, creative-based service, reserved, and controlled industries. Provisions were incorporated to make the policy ever more investment friendly for the international businesses.
Fenox Venture Capital, a US-based venture capital firm located in Silicon Valley, has placed deep interest to invest some $200 million in potential sectors of Bangladesh through a 10-year plan. To that goal, Anis Uzzaman, general partner and president of Fenox VC, recently visited Bangladesh and reaffirmed before the media that the company intends to invest $200 million in Bangladeshi firms through a 10-year plan. On an initial basis, target will be set to make investments in the companies of IT, e-commerce and healthcare sectors.
Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali will visit Russia next June to sign a deal to establish an intergovernmental commission for strengthening bi-lateral cooperation between the two countries. The decision came during the Secretary level meeting in Foreign Office Consultations (FOC) between Bangladesh and Russia held in Moscow on Monday. During Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's visit in Russian Federation, both the countries principally agreed to establish a commission to address trade, economic, scientific and technical cooperation within shortest possible time to avoid hassle in doing business in Russia and Bangladesh.
China has donated $2 million for building the permanent headquarters for the Partners in Population Development (PPD), in Dhaka. The PPD is a south-south collaboration forum of 26 developing countries. Vice-Minister of China’s National Health and Family Planning Commission (NPFPC) Wang Pei’an and PPD Executive Director Joe Thomas signed an agreement on the issue in Beijing on Saturday. Bangladesh earlier donated the land at the capital Dhaka’s Agargaon as part of its commitment to promote South-South Cooperation in the field of reproductive health, population and development. With this Chinese donation, the construction of six-storied building will be completed by December 2016.
The government has taken a series of programmes, aiming to revamp the activities of post offices across the country along with provide more services to the doorstep of the countrymen. According to an official document, a total of 8500 post offices will be turned into e-centres by June, 2017 to reach modern postal services to the doorstep of the people. This project, considered to be an important milestone in achieving the 'Vision-2021' of the present government, aims at bridging digital divide between the rural and urban people of the country by giving them facilities to have access to modern ICT based technologies.
A proposal for the formation of a dedicated company for the country's first satellite, Bangabandhu-1, has been prepared and will get approval soon allowing the company to start its preparations for commercial activities soon. In addition, the development work of the first ground station for the satellite, Bangabandhu-1, is going on in full swing. The satellite project is estimated to cost Tk 2,967.95 crore and will also help in launching DTH (direct-to-home) services and narrow the digital divide by taking broadcasting and telecom services to rural areas.
Bangladesh Awami League Bangladesh Insight Archives