Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has called upon the country's youths to be self-employment using the ICT and create jobs for others.
"We don't want our youths to go here and there looking for jobs, rather they should become self-entrepreneurs, stand on their own feet and create jobs for others," she said.
Hasina was addressing the Digital Centre Entrepreneurs Conference held at the National Parade Square in the city. Some 11,000 entrepreneurs from over 4,500 digital centers, previously known as Union Information and Service Centers, across the country took part in the conference to celebrate the fourth founding anniversary of the Digital Centre program.
LGRD Minister Syed Ashraful Islam, eminent ICT expert and PM's ICT Adviser Sajeeb Wazed Joy, State Minister for ICT Junaed Ahmed Palak and UNDP country director Pauline Tamesis spoke as special guests at the function, held with Local Government Division Secretary M Monzur Hossain in the chair.
Terming the Digital Center Entrepreneurs as the 'Digital Sons' of the country, the Prime Minister urged them to devote themselves towards building 'Sonar Bangla' as dreamt by Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. "You must have self-confidence and self-dignity that you would build Bangladesh not relying on others," she added.
In this connection, Hasina mentioned that the country's youths could now take collateral-free loan up to Tk one Lakh from 'Karmasangsthan Bank' and start their own business and the ceiling of loan would be raised to Tk two lakh in the future to create further scopes for self-employment.
Mentioning that now there are some ill-attempts to oust those entrepreneurs of the Digital Centers who were associated with that from the very beginning, Hasina said these Digital Centre entrepreneurs would continue to hold their positions.
In this connection, Hasina issued a strong warning to the public representatives, including the pourashava mayors and councilors, upazila parishad chairmen, union council chairmen and members not to intervene in the activities of these Digital Centers.
Noting that the countrywide internet speed is not up to the mark, Hasina said her government has taken various steps in this regard and high-speed internet would be available in the future.
She mentioned the approval of Bangabandhu Satellite Project by Ecnec which is expected to further enhance the digital services. The work for the project would start very soon as a process is under way to float tender for it, she added.
The Prime Minister also said her government has a plan to set up high-tech parks in every district alongside the main high-tech park in the capital.
Mentioning that the Union Digital Centers have so far provided some five crore services, Hasina said some seven crore online birth registrations alongside registration of some 20 lakh men and women seeking to go abroad have been completed.
She said the birth registration would be done in the Digital Centers and suggested registering the deaths of people to keep the death records.
Highlighting various services from the Digital Centers including over some 200 e-services to rural people, Hasina said some 40 lakh students are being imparted education through some 23,500 multimedia classrooms while multimedia classrooms would be set up in all schools across the country gradually.
Hasina said Digital Centers are also offering outsourcing and training facilities for the youths through which they could attain more skills and raise their incomes.
The Prime Minister also renewed her pledge to build a hunger- and poverty-free mid-income country well before 2021 and a developed country by 2041.
As a victorious nation, Hasina said, Bangladesh would move ahead in international arena keeping its head high while the country would be further prosperous in all fields, including education, health and employment.
PM's ICT Adviser Sajeeb Wazed Joy said it is fact that the speed and quality of Internet services is lagging in the countrywide over 4,500 Digital Centers, but the government has taken initiatives and it would be possible to ensure high-speed broadband internet to every union over the next four years.
Joy said when the election manifesto of Awami League was unveiled in 2008 to build Digital Bangladesh; many had then termed it impossible due to the scarcity of electricity and limited scope of internet access. "But, after five years, no one is saying how the Digital Bangladesh dream is being materialised. Digital Bangladesh is now a reality."
Speaking on the occasion, PM's son Sajeeb Wazed Joy said he had recently visited Rangpur and talked to the entrepreneurs of a Digital Center where they told him that they are earning Tk 50,000 to Tk 60,000 per month.
Joy reminded it was the North Bengal where people died from Monga during the tenure of BNP-Jamaat, but now there is no such incident.
LGRD Minister Syed Ashraful Islam said the entrepreneurs in the Digital Centers would carry out birth registrations while they would also be associated with some other programs, including LGSP.
Two Digital Center entrepreneurs -- Bisakha Chakma of Rangamati Sadar upazila and Md Arifuzzaman of Rangpur Sadar upazila -- shared their experiences with the audience at the program.
Besides, a theme song and a video clip titled 'Digital Centers Leading Digital Bangladesh' were also played.
PM's Principal Secretary Abdus Sobhan Sikdar also spoke on the occasion while PMO Secretary Md Abul Kalam Azad delivered the address of welcome. Project Director of the A2I Program Kabir Bin Anwar gave the vote of thanks.
Create employment for self, others: PM