Transformed country into Digital Bangladesh despite harsh criticism, ridicule from certain quarters: PM Sheikh Hasina

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Published on July 30, 2023
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Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Saturday said her government has transformed the country into Digital Bangladesh despite “harsh criticism, insults and ridicule from certain quarters.”

“Yes, we have transformed the country into Digital Bangladesh. But we had to face harsh criticism, insults and ridicule initially. Whenever there were problems or issues, many ridiculed us, saying it happened due to Digital Bangladesh,” she said.

The prime minister said this while addressing the inaugural session of Bangladesh Startup Summit 2023.

Startup Bangladesh Limited, the flagship venture capital company of the Information and Communication Technology Division of the Government of Bangladesh, is hosting the two-day event at InterContinental Dhaka.

Sheikh Hasina said that during the election campaign when Awami League declared their manifesto, ‘Digital Bangladesh’ was included.

“At that time we had to face immense ridicule,” she said, adding, “Now, I can proudly say, we have transformed the country into Digital Bangladesh.”

The PM said that the government has emphasised on developing skilled human resources to build a cost-effective, sustainable, intelligent and knowledge-based smart and prosperous Bangladesh by 2041.

“To meet the challenges of the fourth industrial revolution, skilled human resources should be developed in modern technologies like artificial intelligence, internet of things, blockchain, medical scribe and cybersecurity,” she said.

Referring to her government’s initiatives to develop skilled human resources to face the challenges of the fourth industrial revolution (4IR), she said they are setting up vocational and technical educational institutions in each upazila and arranging training facilities for the future.

She said that with the government's efforts, Startup Bangladesh Limited has completed 30 investments so far while 100 startup investments are underway under the "Shoto Borshe Shoto Asha" campaign.

In this connection, she mentioned that more than 15 lahks direct and indirect employment have been created through this.

The prime minister said that 92 lakh people have received services and training through Startup Bangladesh Limited till December 2022, of whom 55 percent are women.

Sheikh Hasina said that her government has formulated the National Startup Policy and the Smart Bangladesh Startup Fund, and through these she hoped that the venture capital ecosystem will develop in the country.

Stating that USD 924 million has been invested in the startup ecosystem so far, the PM said, the goal is to support the creation of five unicorns by 2025 and to create 50 unicorns by 2041.

She explained that a startup company worth at least one billion US dollars is called a unicorn and a unicorn startup will create employment opportunities for millions of people.

She called upon domestic and foreign investors to invest more in startups, mentioning that skilled, smart and knowledgeable manpower is being created in the IT sector.

Stating that two million people have been employed in the IT sector under the e-commerce masterplan, the prime minister said freelancers in rural areas are earning more than 500 million dollars.

Sheikh Hasina said that the country's youths would be the key force in building ‘Smart Bangladesh’.

“Our youths would be the most skilled manpower in each field, in developing Smart Bangladesh,” she said.

State Minister for ICT Division Zunaid Ahmed Palak delivered the keynote presentation.

ICT Division Secretary Md. Shamsul Arefin and Managing Director of Startup Bangladesh Limited Sami Ahmed also spoke at the programme.

Nagad Managing Director Tanvir A Mishuk and SBK Tech Venture Managing Director Sonia Bashir Kabir expressed their reactions on behalf of the award recipients.

The two-day event aimed at bringing together startups, enterprises, venture capitalists, angel investors, regulators, think tanks, and experts from various countries.

Earlier, the Prime Minister unveiled the Smart Bangladesh Accelerator Programme, inaugurated India-Bangladesh Startup Bridge website and launched Smart Bangladesh Startup Fund.

She also gave away the Bangabandhu Innovation Grant and Bangladesh Startup Award among the winners.

A documentary was also screened at the function.