The Digital Island Moheskhali, a public private partnership (PPP) project, has transformed a locality with the country's fastest internet speed.
The ICT ministry, Bangladesh Computer Council, Korea Telecom, and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) jointly undertook the project.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina declared Moheshkhali a "Digital Island" on April 27, 2017. Since then, the residents of Moheshkhali municipality and two adjacent unions gained access to digital services, including e-service centre, digital school, e-commerce centre, and high-speed internet for all.
Jaago Foundation joined the project as an implementing partner in April 2017, helping third-grader Tasnia learn different subjects through video conferencing from Dhaka. "A teacher from Dhaka is teaching us English through video conference. We're enjoying the class and learning new lessons regularly," said Tasnia. But now she is not the only one. Experienced teachers from the capital are teaching several hundred other students through e-learning.
Anwara Begum, a resident of the island, recently took her 6-year-old daughter to the Upazila Health Complex. As her condition was critical, duty doctor Shib Shekhar Bhattacharya consulted a specialist physician through video conference and prescribed the girl some medicine.
Also, Didarul Islam, Marufa Nasrin Lopa, Romana Akter, and six other youths launched the online trading platform "E-business Centre" to sell dried fishes produced in the island. They are supplying the fishes to all the corners of the country in addition to local buyers and tourists.
Patrick Charignon, head of transition and recovery division of the IOM, said Moheshkhali Island was selected for the project as it is one of the least developed areas of Bangladesh. The future of the island was uncertain as youths were migrating to other places.
"The Digital Island Project aimed at creating opportunities for the inhabitants through expanding the existing services under the Department of Information and Communication Technology," said Patrick.
The project achievements include the renovation of an existing tower and installation of giga microwave technology that enabled the residents to access internet with a speed of upto 100MBPS. Community members and government have been trained to improve computer skills. A Community Club and Computer Training Centre makes computers and hi-speed internet accessible to all.
Md Jamirul Islam, Upazila Nirbahi Officer of Moheshkhali, said the Digital Island is a multipurpose project that connected one of the isolated sections of Bangladeshi people with the world.
"The island underwent a positive change thanks to the pilot project. The results are now visible. People are availing different services like telemedicine, distance-learning and community clubs. The upazila administration is performing 80 percent of its official activities through e-filing," he said.
Moksud Mia, mayor of the Moheshkhali Municipality, said inhabitants of the island are being benefited by the project in many ways. Students are getting standard lessons thanks to access to internet.
"Currently, the project is being implemented in three unions of the upazila. It should be expanded to seven other unions," he added.