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Prime minister Sheikh Hasina on Thursday opened the National Data Centre, which appears as the world’s seventh largest such ICT facility, saying it was a step forward towards building the Digital Bangladesh.

“We elevated our status one step ahead towards Digital Bangladesh,” she said opening the four-tier National Data Centre at Bangabandhu High Tech City in Gazipur through video conference from her official Ganabhaban residence in the capital.

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The prime minister said data preservation was of crucial importance for a country’s advancement. The centre was built as part of ruling Awami League’s election manifesto to build Digital Bangladesh, she added.

She also said Bangladesh so far was dependent on foreign ICT facilities abroad requiring the country to spend a huge amount of money from the national exchequer. The newly opened data centre would save the amount and simultaneously generate income for the government.

With Chinese financial and technical assistance, the construction of the National Data Centre began in 2016 on seven acres of land with a space of 200,000 square feet.

The centre by now obtained a certificate from the USA’s Uptime Institute, an organisation best known for its ‘Tier standard’ and the associated certification of data centre compliance with standards.

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The opening of the centre came at a ceremony which simultaneously saw installation of solar panels in parts of rugged Chattogram Hill Tracts, commissioning of five new ships of Bangladesh Shipping Corporation and a research vessel with a particular goal to promote fisheries.

The ship was built at the initiative of Chattogram Veterinary and Animal Sciences University to operate in Kaptai Lake in Rangamati.

The prime minister said her government took initiatives for building Digital Bangladesh after assuming office in 2009. “In true sense of the term, we could build the Digital Bangladesh by now.”

Sheikh Hasina said as part of the initiative, as many as 28 high-tech parks are now being built at different parts of the country while those steps have made computers and laptops available even at village homes.

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“Many people are now earning money staying indoors using the digital device,” she said.

Sheikh Hasina also referred to setting up of digital centres across the country and launching of Bangabandhu Satellite-1 adding that “these initiatives are now generating employment”.

The prime minister recalled her only son and information and communication technology affairs adviser Sajeeb Wazed Joy’s contributions in building Digital Bangladesh.

She also came down heavily on the government formed by the Bangladesh Nationalist Party and Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami alliance saying they virtually prevented the digitisation campaign.

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She referred to an instance when the BNP-led government had scrapped a deal signed during the Awami League’s 1996-2001 tenure with a Netherlands entity just because the company’s brand name incidentally was “Tulip” which was the name of her niece.

Under the deal Bangladesh was supposed to procure the computers at half of their original price but instead the country needed to pay the company an amount of Tk 320 million as penalty for scrapping the deal after losing a legal battle.

The prime minister’s principal secretary Md Nojibur Rahman moderated the function.

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