- Sri Lanka the top Digital Riser in South Asia
- BD's performance can be explained by 'Digital Bangladesh- Vision 2021'
- The vision as a political manifesto aims at dev through technology
- Digital financial inclusion & e-government services are among the notable measures
Bangladesh was named the second most digitally competitive country in South Asia, thanks to the country's comprehensive plans with ambitious goals for its digital transformation as well as a focus on entrepreneurship, said the Digital Riser Report 2021.
The report released on Thursday by the European Center for Digital Competitiveness at the ESCP Business School said Sri Lanka was the top Digital Riser in South Asia followed by Bangladesh and Nepal.
Bangladesh's performance can mainly be explained by the political manifesto of "Digital Bangladesh - Vision 2021," which aims to promote the country's overall development through the use of technology. The initiative contains four pillars: digital government, human resource development, IT industry promotion, and connecting citizens.
After its initial announcement, the initiative was extended from the timeframe 2021 to 2050.
The government set up the Access to Information Programme (a2i) as the flagship programme of Digital Bangladesh to generate innovation and improve citizens' lives.
The a2i Programme established an innovation fund to empower Bangladeshi entrepreneurs, with a total amount of $4.5 million awarded.
Notable measures to realise the Digital Bangladesh include the expansion of digital financial inclusion, the improvements to e-government services and the simplification of bureaucratic processes, said the report.
It also said as part of the Digital Bangladesh vision, the government has established more than 5,000 Digital Centers since 2010 to accelerate the digitisation of public services and reduce poverty through citizen-centric innovations.
The government aims to improve the investment environment via a number of initiatives, including the establishment of special economic zones and IT parks across the country, reads the report.
Commenting on this study, Telecom and ICT Minister Mustafa Jabbar told The Business Standard, "Witnessing the progress in digitalising Bangladesh, I think the study has revealed a proper assessment of the country."
He said, "Bangladesh was the first country to use the word 'digital' before its name when we had announced our journey of making the country digital in 2008. After us, Britain introduced the word 'digital' before its name in 2009 while India in 2014, Maldives in 2015 and Pakistan in 2020."
"Sri Lanka started digitalising its economy long ago when we did not start and its literacy rate has been much high for a long time. Their progress in digital technology has made them most competitive in the region. As a result, it is not abnormal for them to be ahead of us," he added.
The report analysed and ranked the changes of 137 countries by their digital competitiveness between 2018 and 2020 and also highlighted the top three Digital Risers in seven regions and two country groups (G7 and G20).
The report considered two core dimensions of digital competitiveness – a country's ecosystem and its mindset – based on data from the Global Competitiveness Report issued by the World Economic Forum, as well as supporting data provided by the World Bank and the International Telecommunication Union.
Sri Lanka over the last three years has seen an accumulated increase of 153 ranks in digital competitiveness while all countries in the region declined in terms of their relative digital competitiveness.
Sri Lanka's progress can be explained in the light of its "National Digital Policy for Sri Lanka 2020-2025," which aims to attain sustained development and growth for the digital economy.
India fell significantly behind as it ranked lowest for digital competitiveness among five countries reviewed in the region. It was followed by Pakistan.
Last year, Bangladesh was only ahead of India to rank in the fourth position and had not made the list of the top Digital Risers in the region.
Within the G20, China was able to advance most in its relative digital competitiveness over the last three years and was named the top Digital Riser in this group, followed by Saudi Arabia, and Brazil.
Canada was at the top of the G7 countries, followed by Italy and France.