Dissecting the strategy behind Digital Bangladesh
By “Digital Bangladesh” we understand that the government envisions providing all state services to its citizens with the use of technology to make life easier and ensure maximum welfare to the society. In order to do so the government should transform itself into a “Digital Genie” who will carry technology at the forefront of everybody whenever they are in need of it.
Core Problem & its Analysis:
The suspected core problems are: 1. Lack of data regarding on Commercialization: Currently, there is no data or research regarding on commercialization: whether the initiatives undertaken by firms would be able to generate profit or not. The asymmetric information between government and private firms is making it difficult for both the parties to get connected.
2. Not informing the ‘Right People’: Effective awareness campaign needs to be launched to get the voice heard to the target population (private firms and investors) so that participation rate increases and new innovative projects are implemented.
3. Lack of publicity: The government needs to promote the success level in mass media so that private firms are encouraged to come up with projects. More effective awareness campaigns are required to familiarize the target population regarding the scope of their participation.
The following internal limitations also led to gap between the public and private entities:
1. Lack of seed capital: Use of Technology tends to reduce costs on a long term marginal analysis; however set up of IT structure is expensive. With the current available funds, it will be challenging for A2I and SIF to reach the entire population. Sources of fund need to be expanded to accommodate more room for quality projects having significant influence to the citizens.
2. Lack of Adoptability by the Civil Staffs: In order to foster faster and fluent operations of Digital Bangladesh, it’s imperative to change the workplace conditions of civil servants. They need to increase transparency and get themselves acquainted to the digital world first. Traditional bureaucracy and hierarchy should be minimized so that decision making is faster.
3. Poor support system: Many of the initiatives undertaken by government officials never become operational due to lack of technical and financial support. The government needs to change its hostile behavior and ensure that failure will not be rewarded with punishment but rather be treated as learning opportunity. If such occurs, more private firms will feel incentive to come up with innovative ideas.
Hence, in essence, in order to attain the target of Digital Bangladesh, it is imperative to build a bridge between the government and private sectors so that all available resources are best utilized to obtain a favorable result: the government should act like a digital genie.
The participation by private firms to SIF is extremely low. A2i wants more participation of private proposing innovative projects which are tech savvy and serves one of the public services served by the government. The participation of public sector only stretch concern on asymmetric information, sustainability, cost effectives and most importantly commercialization in the long run. Therefore, it is imperative for the private sector to step up and help government in providing public services.
The case mentions concern about a risk of aversion: whether the funded projects can be sustainable in the long run at all. The authority seeks a proper solution to ensure commercialization in the future. The authority seeks to devise a plan that will enable the target market to understand what exactly ‘innovation in delivering public services’ mean. The authority also shows concern regarding the steady source of fund required to finance creative initiatives. Lastly, the case addresses whether the expansion of SIF fund will be worthwhile or not. If not, what are the underlying reasons behind the shortcomings?
Proposed Solution(s) and Recommendations:In order to materialize the concept of Digital Bangladesh, ICT should be integrated with private firms in all development issues. Right investments are a necessary prerequisite for this sector. But the investment priority should be identified on the basis of national priority and the efficiency and capability of the state as well. In Digital Bangladesh, the priority should be given in strengthening of the four fundamental pillars with PPP:
• E-Governance: Increasing the efficiency, transparency and of government
• E-Education: Human Resource Development
• E-Service: Bringing the government services to the doorsteps of people
• E-Commerce: Increasing domestic/foreign investment and Preservation of Consumer’s Right
In order to encourage participation from private firms, following steps are suggested:
• To ensure capital access for private firms to the Equity and Entrepreneurship Fund (IT) without any collateral
• To amend Equity Entrepreneurship Fund (IT) policies for ensuring easy access to capital, quality service delivery and speedy processing
• The promising youths constitute an attractive important element to attract potential investors. So, formation of youth organization to tie knots between government and private sectors can be proved effective.
• Awareness about IT/ITES industry among the government stakeholders should be created. At present, there’s absence of appropriate human resource development strategies for building a talent pool in compliance with international competitive ranking.
• Government might raise the Expected salary, rank and status of the firms involving in such projects as an incentive to bring stability of this sector.
• Asymmetric information between private firms and government needs to be narrowed down via mass media advertisement, B2B campaign, awareness campaign and social media marketing.
• Sources and scope of fund needs to be expanded. Government should seek foreign aids from Common Wealth fund for instance.
• Proper training and research should be provided to the civil servants so that they can acquire required skills to operate the latest technological devices with ease. Traditional paperwork practice should be reduced and converted to digital copy practice in order to ensure maximum productivity in daily operations.
Conclusion: We live in an asymmetric world marked by wealth and poverty. The digital divide has widened the development gap. However, in collaboration with private and public entities, we have to devise a technology that can overcome these differences and lead to a global society with minimum poverty and maximum equity. Bangladesh must, indeed, resolutely commit itself to build the Information Society and implement her Plan of Action.Written By- Naimul Kader. The author is a junior at the School of Business & Economics, North South University is currently pursuing his undergraduate major in Finance & Accounting and Marketing. He can be reached here: firstname.lastname@example.org