Bangladesh will celebrate the 50th anniversary of its independence in 2021. Currently, the country is one of the poorest in the world, with its exceptionally high population density and vulnerability to flooding and other disasters. Around a third of the population is living below the poverty line and there are huge divides between the urban and rural areas. In 2006, the government published what it hopes the state of the country will be by 2021, Vision 2021. These goals are largely in line with the MDGs, including things like poverty eradication, improvements in health and education, increases in accountability/transparency, and better business practices. A large part of this vision focuses on the adoption of technology to achieve the stated goals. They hope to see ICTs integrated into health, education, businesses, etc. This blogger points out that Bangladesh needs to fully adopt ICTs and become a “Digital Bangladesh” because societies only develop through the creation of knowledge.
As I researched statistics about Bangladesh’s ICT usage, I quickly learned that Vision 2021 is unlikely to become a reality. Internet penetration rates are below 10% and less than 5% of households own a computer at this time. It’s good that the government realized that adopting ICTs would be beneficial to the country’s development. It’s important that technology’s potential in boosting living standards is recognized. However, without the proper social and political will, this cannot be achieved. The goals set out in Vision 2021 are lofty; it would be better to start small, set more achievable benchmarks, and work both at the government and grassroots levels.