November 13, 2014
Digital Bangladesh
Some 11,000 entrepreneurs of over 4,500 "Digital Centres" joined a mega conference titled "Digital Centre Entrepreneurs Conference" arranged by the Bangladesh government on Tuesday. The Digital Centres have been creating a digital revolution in the country by making accessible to the remotest parts the benefits of Information and Communications Technology (ICT). The event was attended by the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who called upon the youths to become IT entrepreneurs and create jobs for others. In a related development, the government has decided to set up separate IT support centers in all public universities aiming to foster young entrepreneurs.
An innovative educational outreach program called “Google Bus” has been launched on Wednesday in Dhaka. The aim of this initiative is to educate half a million college and university students from around Bangladesh about the power of using Google tools as a resource to support learning and collaboration in everyday life. Google promoted the service through several activation and promotional events beforehand.
Infrastructure and Mega Projects
Bangladesh government on Monday signed a US$ 1.1 billion agreement with the Chinese company, Sonohydra Corporation Ltd, for the river training works of the Padma Bridge project. Padma Bridge Project Director Shafiqul Islam and Deputy Chief Engineer of Sonohydra Corporation Ltd inked the agreement on behalf of their respective sides at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre in Dhaka. The Padma Bridge is among the six projects that are under direct supervision of the Fast Track Project Monitoring Committee headed by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Wednesday inaugurated the construction of the Akhtaruzzaman Chowdhury Flyover in Chittagong. The 5.2 km long 4-lane flyover will connect two busy points of Lalkhan Bazar and Muradpur in the port city and will be built at a cost of $60 million. Chittagong Development Authority (CDA) and a China-Bangladesh joint venture entity called “Max Renken JV” will build the mega project, financed completely by domestic funds. Likely to be completed by June 2016, this is the AL government’s second flyover project in Chittagong.
Growth and Development
In its latest report on Least Development Countries (LDCs), the World Trade Organization (WTO) has hailed Bangladesh’s export growth for acquiring significant share in the global market for manufacturing and service products. The report showed that Bangladesh tops the LDCs for manufacturing exports, earning over $29.1 billion in 2013. In service exports, Bangladesh achieved substantial growth with more than $1.87 billion in earnings. The report noted that Bangladesh’s ICT sector would be a major source of export earnings in coming days in addition to the RMG sector.
According to the Secretary General of International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) John Danilovich, Bangladesh is a model country for the rest of the world due to its resilience and the continuous economic growth even in the face of crisis. He said Bangladesh is no longer a test case for development as suggested by economist Just Faaland just a few decades ago. He added that Bangladesh played an important role in the recovery path of the global economy from the last recession. Lauding Bangladesh’s growth, he expressed optimism that earnings from exports would grow further in the coming days.
Social Justice and Equity
In line with its success from the previous six years, the government is all set to distribute 330 million school textbooks to 44.5 million students on 1st January 2015, the start of the next school year in Bangladesh. In the current academic year, Bangladesh created a world record by supplying 300 million free schoolbooks to 37 million school students on 2nd January 2014 as part of “Textbook Festival Day”. This policy of the AL government has not only contributed to increasing primary enrolment rate to 100% but also substantially cut down drop out rates.
Bangladesh government has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with USAID for providing more skilled attendance during birth at remote public healthcare facilities. This move is aimed to cut down maternal and newborn deaths by providing safe facilities for deliveries. The target is to increase the national skilled birth attendance coverage rate to 64% by 2016. The project has already been tested at Habiganj district resulting in substantial improvements in safe motherhood, newborn care and family planning services.
Last year, the AL government took the milestone decision to formally recognize transgender (Hijras) as the ‘third gender’. In a move which was considered bold and visionary in Bangladesh’s society, Hijras were not only recognized in society formally, but were given priority rights in education and other social and economic aspects. This week, they celebrated this landmark event in their lives by coming out with Dhaka’s first ever Hijra pride parade. Apart from the parade itself, the festival consisted of a grand cultural programme and talent hunt competition.
Trade and Investment
Japan has proposed to invest in hybrid bamboo plantations in Karnaphuli Paper Mills (KPM) areas of Bangladesh aiming to boost production of paper through uninterrupted supply of raw materials. KPM is the largest paper-producing factory of the country. The proposal came from the former Foreign Minister of Japan, Tetsuro Yano as he met with the Bangladesh Industries Minister on Sunday.
Investment opportunities in Bangladesh will be highlighted to businesses in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia from November 12-14 in an event titled: “Showcase Bangladesh 2014”. 46 companies from Bangladesh will take part in the event to showcase their products and services. The underlying objective of the event is to increase Malaysian investment in Bangladesh, especially in the infrastructure sector.
International and Regional Cooperation
Bangladeshi President Abdul Hamid recently attended the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC)’s CEO Summit 2014 held in Beijing, China. While addressing the summit, the Bangladesh President reiterated his country’s interest to become a member country of the APEC. He expressed hoped that the APEC would consider soon lifting its existing moratorium on including new members. APEC is a forum for 21 Pacific Rim member economies that seeks to promote free trade and economic cooperation throughout the Asia-Pacific region.
The envoys of Bhutan, India and Nepal in Dhaka started a four-day tour on Sunday geared to promote sub-regional cooperation and connectivity. In this unique initiative, the three envoys based in Bangladesh will take the exact land route used by the traders of Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, and Nepal. The tour is intended to promote sub-regional cooperation in the crucial areas of trade, transit, border infrastructure, and connectivity among the four countries.
Bangladesh Awami League