More Than 5G and Cashless: A Vision Rooted in Smart Citizens, Smart Government, Smart Economy, and Smart Society
Smart Bangladesh Vision 2041 transcends the mere futuristic landscape often associated with technological advancements. It surpasses the anticipated benchmarks of 5G internet, achieving 100% smartphone and high-speed internet penetration, and the transition to a cashless society. At its core, Smart Bangladesh is a testament to inclusivity, prioritizing the well-being and advancement of the people—the citizens of Bangladesh.
Structured on the four fundamental pillars of Smart Citizens, Smart Government, Smart Economy, and Smart Society, this vision is a commitment to bridging the digital divide. Through the innovation and scaling of sustainable digital solutions, Smart Bangladesh aims to ensure that every citizen, regardless of their socio-economic background, and every business, irrespective of size, can reap the benefits of technological progress. This transformative journey builds upon the foundation laid by Digital Bangladesh, propelling the nation toward the realization of Bangabandhu’s dream—a Shonar Bangladesh, a Golden Bangladesh.
Decoding Smart Bangladesh: From Vision to Reality
From the dream of an Independent Bangladesh in 1971 to the realization of Digital Bangladesh in 2008, the nation has now set its sights on another transformative vision – Smart Bangladesh. Announced on December 12, 2022, this vision is slated to become a reality on December 16, 2041, marking the official entry into the era of Smart Bangladesh. But what does this term truly entail?
Defining Smart Nation: A “smart nation” is more than a technological buzzword; it involves harnessing emerging technologies, networks, and data to create tech-enabled solutions that contribute to nation-building. Yet, the overarching vision of Smart Bangladesh goes beyond techno-centric definitions, aiming to be intricately connected to citizens’ benefits and fostering a more inclusive society.
Characteristics of Smart Bangladesh 2041: Smart Bangladesh in 2041 will be characterized by several key features:
- High-income: Achieving a GDP per capita of at least $12,500.
- Poverty-free: Striving for 0% extreme poverty and keeping general poverty under 3%.
- Macroeconomically stable: Maintaining low inflation (4-5%), minimal deficits (5% of GDP), increased investment (40% of GDP), and enhanced tax revenue (20% of GDP).
- High human development: Ensuring 100% high-school education, including digital literacy, and providing 100% health financing for all, while leveraging the demographic dividend.
- Sustainable urbanization: Aiming for 80% urbanization with 100% electrification, predominantly from renewable sources.
- Service at fingertips: Pioneering 100% paperless and cashless public services, accessible at the fingertips of every citizen according to their preferences.
Equity at the Core: Crucially, Smart Bangladesh is fundamentally about establishing an equitable nation, where equal rights and opportunities prevail, and no groups are marginalized.
Four Core Pillars: Smart Citizen, Smart Government, Smart Society, Smart Economy: To delve into the essence of Smart Bangladesh, we will explore stories from the year 2041, illustrating the four core pillars that form its foundation – Smart Citizen, Smart Government, Smart Society, and Smart Economy. These narratives will illuminate how these pillars collectively contribute to the realization of an advanced, inclusive, and equitable Smart Bangladesh.
- Smart Citizen: Empowering the Solution Seekers
In the realm of Smart Bangladesh, individuals like Sharbani Dutta, an 18-year-old high-school student from Barisal, exemplify the essence of a Smart Citizen. Commuting in an electric, self-driven school bus, Sharbani encountered inefficiencies due to a new flying car terminal construction along her route. Taking initiative, she collaborated with the school authorities to redefine the bus route, utilizing innovative coordinates for student pickups. This proactive approach not only streamlined the transportation process but also showcased the empowered youth of Smart Bangladesh, where citizens actively contribute to solving challenges, embodying the belief that they are the solution.
2. Smart Government: Sahera Banu, The Govpreneurial Innovator
Meet Sahera Banu, the District Commissioner of Tangail, who epitomizes the concept of a govpreneur—someone with the courage to experiment and take calculated risks. Faced with the challenge of an elusive maternal mortality rate target and a mysterious illness affecting pregnant women, Sahera leveraged public-private partnerships. Engaging top AI and IoT companies, she facilitated the development of low-cost, 10G-enabled wearable health bands. These bands quickly identified high-risk pregnancies, enabling real-time data transmission to clinics. Sahera’s innovative approach not only saved lives but also instilled trust in the government through effective public-private collaboration.
- Smart Society: Inclusion Beyond Boundaries
Ruma Chakma, a visually impaired widow from Bandarban, symbolizes the inclusive nature of Smart Bangladesh. Benefiting from digital currency services, Ruma receives government allowances at home. Engaging in an active social life, she navigates everyday activities seamlessly, from grocery shopping to drone-delivered essentials. The ethos of Smart Bangladesh goes beyond mere tolerance—it fosters a society where everyone, regardless of their background, enjoys equal participation and opportunity. Ruma’s story embodies the ultimate demand-side response, emphasizing a society that leaves no one behind.
- Smart Economy: Kajira Begum’s Entrepreneurial Frontier
In the economic landscape of Smart Bangladesh, Kajira Begum, a small fabric shop owner in Moulvibazar, stands as a beacon of innovation. Running her business with AI-generated copies, voice-assisted software, and utilizing local Smart Centre facilities, Kajira epitomizes the transformation of small business enterprises. Smart Bangladesh ensures that businesses like hers thrive, eradicating the need for rural entrepreneurs to seek opportunities in urban centers. The smart economy envisioned in Smart Bangladesh empowers local businesses and facilitates growth within reach.
Smart Bangladesh: The Unifying Vision
As these stories unfold in 2041, Smart Bangladesh emerges as the ultimate goal. The path to this future may seem distant, but, much like the birth of the nation and the realization of Digital Bangladesh, 2041 will arrive sooner than anticipated. The journey towards Smart Bangladesh is a deliberate, step-by-step process that requires unity, determination, and resilience against skepticism.
Four Core Tenets for Smart Bangladesh:
- Alignment (of aspirations and ambitions): Uniting the aspirations and ambitions of every Bangladeshi into a cohesive national target for Smart Bangladesh.
- Preparation (across all stakeholders): Equipping all stakeholders—government, private sector, civil society, academia, media, and individuals—with the necessary capacity to elevate the nation.
- Coordination (to break silos): Ensuring seamless collaboration across stakeholder groups, breaking down silos to enable efficient preparation.
- Execution (that is measured): Moving beyond planning, executing measurable, identifiable actions at the end of each year to bring Smart Bangladesh closer to reality.
In conclusion, the vision of Smart Bangladesh, encapsulated by the four foundational pillars and supported by essential tenets, necessitates a united commitment and sustained effort. The journey toward crafting a prosperous and technologically advanced nation—our Shonar Bangla—beckons us to collectively embark on this transformative mission, shaping a future that embodies progress, inclusivity, and innovation by the year 2041.
Engr. M. Mahmudul Hasan
ICT and Development Analyst