This digital revolution has created a brand new economic sector that simply did not exist before. Computers, modern telecommunication and the Internet all reduce communication costs and break down geographical borders. In addition, ICT can be an important driver in poverty reduction and assure sustained economic growth, better public welfare, and strong social solidity and democratic forms of government. In the developed nations government policies are being established which attempts to ensure that all citizens will get opportunity to access the effective use of ICT in order to enable them to participate in the educational, social and economic activities and democratic process. Developed countries are getting much benefit from the advancement of ICT. People living in developed countries have the best access to the fastest computers, best telephone services, competitive Internet Service Providers, and a wealth of content and training relevant to their lives. For example :
- In the Brazilian city of Sao Paolo, the total Internet bandwidth is equal to that in whole Africa.
- In Seoul, South Korea, the total Internet bandwidth is equal to that in all of Latin America.
The number of telephone lines, personal computers, websites and Internet users and their ratio to the total population are the index of measuring the digital divide around the world. Table 2 shows a picture of such type of statistics of some world including Bangladesh.
If we analyze the table above, we can find that we have progressed in aggregate but in the world context our progress is not worth-mentioning. In the rank we have rather gone down in comparison to year 2002. On the other hand Pakistan has progressed remarkably. No doubt that our rank is well below that countries of similar status but in 2002 there was almost no ICT access and usage in the country, whereas 8% households had computers and internet penetration that Iwere in 2002 has reached to 10.7% in 2007.
In India, agricultural commodity price information is published in the Internet for effective use in some of the villages. This benefits the people of the villages. An effective IT use is ensued by the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB). Towards digital Bangladesh we can use the Indian experience of using ICT in different sectors of the agriculture. Since more than half of our population is employed in agriculture, our planner should put ICT to good use in agriculture.
The Simputer was developed by scientists from the Indian Institute of Science, and a software company called Encore. One can get computing facilities at a drastically lower cost as simputer only cost US$150 per piece compared to US$ 400 for a PC. Further, it has a local language interface. This is an instance of how the scientist, academia and industry can collaborate to develop technology to suit a particular economy. We can learn this lesson also from our neighboring country.
As per as access to essential drugs is concerned, only 49% of total population of Bangladesh has the access. Further, we have only 26 physicians per 100 thousands population whereas this figure is 279 and 162 in US and China respectively. ICT can help bring medical expertise to Upazilla and District headquarters. In order to connect patients at remote locations with specialist doctors, telemedicine may play a vital role. Using satellites, with super specialty hospitals at major towns / cities telemedicine may also link healthcare centers in remote locations.