The youth are the driving force of the nation, and their innovative ideas and perspectives are invaluable, said Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen.
"We are committed to creating a smarter Bangladesh, and this roundtable is a major step towards achieving that vision." Dr. Momen stated while speaking as the chief guest at the event titled "Smart Bangladesh Roundtable Discussion for Youth Perspective'' organised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Thursday (14 September).
"The development and deployment of cutting-edge technology, including blockchains and Neural Networks, underscores the government's commitment to create a culture of innovation within its operations. It also indicates an increasing willingness to grow in-house competencies in AI and adjacent technologies," he said.
The roundtable also had the gracious presence of Dr. Abul Kalam Azad, Former Principal Secretary and Co-Chair of Smart Bangladesh Network (SBN), as the special guest. In his remarks, he said, "This initiative marks a significant step toward a smarter Bangladesh. The youth's active involvement is essential to our success, and the Smart Bangladesh Olympiad will serve as a catalyst for innovation."
Dr Syed Muntasir Mamun, chief innovation officer and DG, Trade, Investment and ICT, Ministry of Foreign Affairs said, "The youth are our future leaders, and their ideas are the driving force for change. We are committed to building a culture of innovation within the Ministry and beyond."
The MOFA ICT wing presented its own Digital Public Infrastructure initiatives and globally deployed strengths. MOFA sought more direct youth participation in its developmental ambitions through its various initiatives such the "innovation lounge" and "iLab".
Officials from the Foreign Office and a2i joined the discussion session along with youth representatives from various universities, technical and vocational schools, madrasahs and other such institutions from all over the country.
This roundtable aimed to engage the youth of Bangladesh in envisioning and creating a smarter, more innovative nation. The discussion also focused on the introduction of the Smart Bangladesh Olympiad, marking a milestone in the nation's commitment to youth engagement and innovation. The roundtable brought together young representatives from diverse educational backgrounds, including public, private, polytechnic, national universities, and madrasas. It sought to bridge a historical gap by empowering the youth to participate actively in impactful policymaking dialogues, ensuring that their voices shape the future of the nation.
This initiative recognizes that the youth are not just participants but the most significant stakeholders in the Smart Bangladesh journey. MOFA, in collaboration with foreign missions in various countries, aspires to spread the youth's innovations beyond Bangladesh's borders and throughout the world. This global outreach will not only showcase Bangladesh's innovation but also create opportunities for cross-cultural collaboration and knowledge exchange. Another aim of the initiative is to connect the creative energy of the Bangladesh youth to the Global supply chain and design ecosystems.
"This marks a Paradigm shift, where we not only work for the youth, but also with the youth. Today's participation reflects inclusivity from diverse backgrounds representing Polytechnic, Madrasa, national universities, Public-Private Universities, and great gender balance. We, from a2i, along with the Foreign Ministry, are here to foster the culture of innovation, to promote our youth in Bangladesh and Beyond, chasing the perception of Bangladesh locally and globally" - Ashfaq Zaman, Strategic Communications Advisor of a2i and Coordinator MoFA a2i ilab viewed.
Connecting the central power structure of the government to the youth was a core theme of the round table.