Bangladesh plans to sign new ICT project with China ‘soon’

State Minister for Information Communication Technology Zunaid Ahmed Palak has said that his ministry is expected to sign a new project with China 'soon' to take internet connectivity to the grassroots.

Published : 21 May 2017, 02:15 PM
Updated : 21 May 2017, 05:21 PM

He said 2,600 unions would come under a fibre optic cable network and 1,600 police stations would be interconnected with the virtual private network if the ‘info-Sarkar project 3’ was implemented.

China will finance the major share of the Tk 20 billion project.

“We are expecting that the loan agreement will be signed soon. And the project will be implemented by next year,” he said after a meeting with the visiting Chinese Exim Bank delegation led by its vice-president Sun Ping.

The government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina came to power in 2009 with the programme of promoting ‘Digital Bangladesh’ as one of its principal objectives.

Internet users, previously fewer than 1 million, now total 67 million, which is more than one-third of the total population of Bangladesh.

Palak said during the meeting they took stock of the Chinese-funded projects and proposed new initiatives.

Through Chinese support, he said, steps had been taken to implement another project on ‘Establishing Digital Connectivity’. Some 100,000 rural educational institutions will be connected under fibre optic.

‘Sheikh Russel Digital Lab’ will be set up in 15, 000 primary, secondary and higher secondary schools and colleges. Besides, regulatory lab, cyber security lab and ‘Very Large Scale Integration lab’ for the hardware industry to flourish will also be set up.

He said under the info-Sarkar 2 project, internet access has been established up to sub-district level. Connectivity among 18,332 government offices has been established while 800 video conferencing systems have been set up across Bangladesh.

Chinese President Xi Jinping promised massive funding for infrastructure development in Bangladesh during his visit last year. This is under his flagship initiative ‘one-belt, one-road’ that aims at expanding links between Asia, Africa and Europe.

Under a framework agreement, China has promised to fund $10 billion for the ICT sector alone by 2030.

The minister of state said he proposed to the Exim Bank Vice President that a “joint committee” with the ICT division for a feasibility study be set up before any projects are taken up.

He responded positively to the suggestion, according to Palak.