Accelerating digital momentum: A critical path to economic resilience

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Bangladesh has made significant strides in adopting digital technologies, creating new opportunities for economic growth, social inclusion, and technological advancement. The acceleration of the digitalisation process is critical to achieving the goal of becoming a smart economy.

The economic growth of Bangladesh hinges on digitalisation. On the verge of LDC graduation, increasing competitiveness, attracting investments, empowering individuals, and promoting entrepreneurship are essential. Failure to advance digital progress will result in missed opportunities for job creation, innovation, and sustainable growth. We must continue prioritising digitalisation to ensure better living standards for all citizens in a connected society.

The inclusion of advanced technology is key to promoting social equality and providing opportunities for disadvantaged communities. Telenor's investment in Bangladesh in 1997 paved the way for other telecom investors to follow, enabling rural communities to connect and empower. This contribution played a significant role in achieving the Digital Bangladesh goals. The introduction of bKash and Nagad's recent accelerated journey promoted financial inclusion, while Daraz became a strong support for e-commerce, and 10 Minute School revolutionised access to quality education in Digital Bangladesh. However, it is crucial that we make improving internet access in rural areas a priority to bridge the gap and ensure equal access to education, healthcare, and government services. Although progress has been made, implementing digital literacy programs, infrastructure development, and affordable access for all are necessary to achieve a Smart Bangladesh. Taking action now is imperative to ensure that no one is left behind in the digital revolution.

Digital technologies also play a more critical role in tackling environmental issues and promoting sustainable development in Bangladesh. Innovative systems such as energy-efficient infrastructure, intelligent transportation, and digital waste management are imperative to create a greener and more sustainable environment. These technologies minimize environmental damage and enhance resource management, urban planning, and the quality of life for citizens. Therefore, adopting such technologies is crucial for achieving a sustainable future for Bangladesh.

For Bangladesh to remain competitive in the global market, the country must take the lead in the digital world and capitalise on its youth dividend. This requires establishing an intense research and development environment, promoting STEM education, and fostering collaboration between academia and industry to nurture local talent and become a center for digital innovation. Adopting modern technologies like artificial intelligence, blockchain, and the Internet of Things is essential for Bangladesh to establish its dominance in the global digital economy.

The conflict between Russia and Ukraine has had a global impact, but Bangladesh's digitalisation efforts have helped the country maintain its economic resilience. By diversifying its economic sectors, enabling remote work, providing digital financial services, and creating digital trade opportunities, Bangladesh has been able to avoid some of the worst disruptions experienced by other countries. It's essential to recognise the role of digitalisation in promoting economic resilience during difficult times. Bangladesh's unwavering commitment to digital transformation has put it in a solid position to navigate uncertainty, build a thriving economy, and move toward a prosperous future.

Khairul Basher is a communication and advocacy professional, founder of Konnekt Consulting. He can be reached at [email protected]