Dec 31, 2017
Bangladesh's ICT sector will bid farewell to 2017 on a high note as the year saw digital services thrive, exports hit a new peak and local companies go global. The massive strides were only possible because of the political stability and youth engagement. The telecom industry acquired 131 million active internet connections in the first eleven months, while the mobile operators added 16 million active SIMs into their network, according to Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission. Export earnings from locally-made software and ICT-related services like outsourcing and freelancing hit $800 million in 2017.
2017 has been a year of tremendous success in curbing militancy through targeted operations by the law enforcement agencies across the country. The law enforcers busted a number of militant dens in different parts of the country, including the capital Dhaka, in the outgoing year as part of their anti-militancy drive. On impact, militant attacks, alongside a spree of recruitment into militant groups have been reduced to a larger extent while anti-militancy campaign has been boosted up across the country. During the operations, the law enforcers detained many listed militants and recovered huge explosives and firearms.
Bangladesh has brought down the child mortality rate by 73% over the last 25 years, according to a Unicef report. Nearly half of all under-five deaths are associated with malnutrition. Over the past 25 years, the world has made a significant progress in saving children's lives. The rate of child mortality fell 62% from 1990-2016, with under-five deaths dropping from 12.7 million to 5.6 million. According to WHO, a substantial global progress has been made in reducing child deaths. Bangladesh has also registered a substantive acceleration, experiencing a remarkable change in child mortality rates over the last few decades. It has to further reduce child's death to obtain the SDGs.
Bangladesh won the title of the inaugural edition of SAFF Under-15 Women's Championship with a solitary goal victory against India last week. Winger Shamsunnahar's 41st minute strike proved decisive in the final at the Birshreshtha Mostafa Kamal Stadium, with around five thousand spectators enjoying the match. In a congratulatory message, Honourable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina greeted all the players, coach and officials of the Bangladesh girls' football team on their win, pinning hopes that the wining spree of the Bangladesh girls football team would continue in future
The government plans to develop Payra as the country’s third major power hub having a combined power generation capacity of about 9000MW. Works are already underway to set up a total of nine mega power plants while run high that electricity from the first plant --- one1320MW Thermal power plant-- will be generated by April, 2019. HPM Sheikh Hasina has selected the Paira site for developing power plants aimed at overcoming the nagging power crisis in the country’s south and western region.
The Rural Electrification Board (REB) provides some 3,00,000 new power connections every month with a view to fulfilling government’s goal to ensure electricity for all by 2019. Mega power projects like 1200mw Matarbari coal-fired plant, 1320mw Rampal power plant and some others big plants have already experienced some visible progress this year. In addition, to ensure smooth transmission and distribution of electricity across the country, the government has already undertaken a $175 million distribution project in Chittagong and another US$1.25 billion distribution project in Dhaka.
Given that the project has been fast tracked under the supervision of the HPM Sheikh Hasina, about 50% of the construction work of the Padma Multipurpose Bridge has been completed. The second span of the bridge is likely to be installed by mid-January next as the government has still the target to complete the construction of it by the stipulated deadline. Once the second span of the bridge is installed, it is hoped that the rest 39 could be set up within a short period. Plans have been put on the table to construct a tourism centre like Hong Kong city and an international airport there was well. Last year HPM Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the pilling work of the dream project which will connect the entire Southern Bangladesh with Dhaka.
The government has approved three projects to develop infrastructures in rural areas of Mymensingh, Rangpur and Rajshahi at an estimated cost of $908 million. A large chunk of money will be spent on repairing rural infrastructures, especially roads damaged by recent floods, and constructing new ones in Rangpur, Rajshahi and Mymensingh regions. The other projects include development of polytechnic institutions, purchase of 20 metre-gauge diesel electric locomotives and 150 metre-gauge carriages for Bangladesh Railway among others.
Vitamin A plus campaign was conducted all over the country last week which is intended to get rid of childhood blindness and vitamin A deficiency-related diseases. Approximately 22 million children aged between six months and 59 months have been administered vitamin A capsules from 8 am to 4 pm. Children between the age of six months and 11 months have been given blue colour capsules while children between 12 and 59 months have been given red colour capsule. The government has taken up a project to feed vitamin A plus capsules twice a year, as it stays in children’s bodies up to six months. As per the statistics of Directorate General of Health Services, less than 1% children now suffer from blindness.
The growing participation of women in agriculture has made a big change in rural economy, making them a big contributor to country’s overall economy. According to the latest statistics of Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS), women’s participation in agriculture has increased by 102 % in a decade while men’s participation has decreased by 2%. According to experts, women leadership in agriculture has changed the rural economy and demand for woman labour is increasing every day. Besides caring for crop fields, crop sorting and processing, storing, irrigation, harvesting and some other related works, women are also participating in core cultivation with males.
Scientists in Bangladesh have developed country's first biotech rice variety giving farmers an answer to the difficulties they face in harvesting the staple with machines. Stems of BRRIdhan-86, the variety that got official release approval on Wednesday, are strong and stout and easy to reap by mechanical harvesters. This will come handy to farm owners, who suffer from dearth of farm labourers and also find it difficult to use harvesters. BRRI breeders told media outlets that the new variety having half metric tons of extra yield potential over the country's most produced rice variety BRRIdhan-28 is derived from Iranian rice variety Niamat through application of a biotech tool called - anther culture.
Since the present government is following a strict policy to ensure safe migration, the number of Bangladeshi workers going abroad with employment is likely to reach some 1.1 million by the end of this year. The government has undertaken a special programme for rehabilitation of the expatriate workers who have returned home. Besides, several developed countries expressed their interest in taking skilled and semi-skilled workers from Bangladesh. On the other hand, the government is helping to develop skilled workers in 48 different trades and also has 70 technical training centres (TTC) for such development and is also constructing 40 training centres at upazila level with 50 more in the pipeline.
Bangladesh Economic Zones Authority (BEZA) is setting up three tourism parks at Cox's Bazar district with a target to create 2,00,000 employments. Through the development of tourism parks, experts believed that Bangladesh will improve its travel and tourism competiveness ranking to double digit from the existing 127 position, as per the Travel and Tourism Competiveness index 2015 ranking. Another park is well located with exclusive beach front and it takes half an hour from Sea cruise to St Martin-a coral island. The park is only eight kilometers away from Teknaf land port and 2 hours drive to Cox's Bazar Airport.
To facilitate trade with bordering countries like Nepal and Bangladesh, India will link its major highway corridors to international trade points at a cost $4 billion. About 2,000 kilometres (km) of highways will be constructed under the plan, according to a report by Besides the project to link highway corridors with international trade points, there are several other projects under implementation which aim to facilitate India's international connectivity with neighbouring countries in South Asia and ASEAN.
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