State minister for power, energy and mineral resources Nasrul Hamid said Bangladesh has achieved many successes in energy sector in last 10 years but some challenges lies ahead in the next 10 years such as modernisation of transmission and distribution system, integration of clean energy and advanced technology and human resources development and the European Union (EU) can cooperate with Bangladesh in those areas.
The state minister was speaking at a roundtable titled ‘The Economic Dimension of the EU’s Global Footprint’ organised by the EU at a city hotel on Friday.
He sought EU’s partnership in Bangladesh’s clean energy sector to boost the share of renewable energy in the national grid.
The state minister also urged the EU to help Bangladesh in sectors such as e-governance, high speed internet, capacity building of IT and outsourcing farms, advanced sectors such as semiconductors, electrical vehicle infrastructure and training on smart technologies.
EU’s deputy secretary general for economic and global issues Helena Konig discussed the issues pertaining to cooperation under the EU’s Global Gateway project.
The EU in December 2021 set out the Global Gateway strategy to boost smart, clean and secure links in digital, energy and transport sectors and to strengthen health, education and research systems across the world.
Between 2021 and 2027, the EU institutions and EU member states will jointly mobilise up to €300 billion of investments for sustainable and high-quality projects in partner countries.
Helena Konig said that the EU has priorities for environment and climate issues, workers’ rights, gender equality, education and research issues.
She said the EU is committed to human rights, transparency, good governance, green development, working on new technology and skilled development activities.
Helena praised Bangladesh’s success in primary education and women's education.
Moderating the roundtable, Bangladesh Institute of Peace and Security Studies (BIPSS) president Major General (retd) ANM Muniruzzaman said as Bangladesh celebrates the 50th year of bilateral relations with EU, it is high time we discuss how EU’s footprint can benefit Bangladesh and Indo-Pacific region economically.
“I believe the EU can provide tremendous support to Bangladesh in vocational training and in job creation. It should not only be confined to trade, investment and infrastructure."
He added that the EU should continue its joint efforts with Bangladesh in promoting good governance, human rights and rule of law.
Urging the EU to work on increasing people to people contact, Muniruzzaman said, “One area which I think is completely missing in the equation is people to people contact. No relationship can sustain without it.”
Saying that only seven European countries have embassies in Bangladesh and people need to go to India to avail visas of the rest of the countries, Dhaka University’s International Relations department professor Lailufar Yasmin urged the EU to work on this area.
She also urged the EU to work on academic exchange and research collaboration with Bangladeshi higher education institutions.
Syed Munir Khasru, chairman of the Institute for Policy, Advocacy, and Governance (IPAG) said Bangladesh does not want to be dragged into the ongoing geo-political tug of war but maintain a balance considering its own realities.
He lamented that the research capacity of Bangladesh is very low even in comparison with neighboring countries India and Pakistan, and urged the EU to help Bangladesh increase its research capacities.
He also urged the EU to cooperate on climate change to prevent climate migration.
Ambassador and head of delegation of the EU to Bangladesh Charles Whiteley, member of parliament Nahim Razzaq, Dhaka Chambers of Commerce Industry’s president Sameer Sattar, among others spoke at the roundtable.