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One info centre in one village Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by Shahjahan Siraj, Bangladesh Oct 20, 2004
Technology , Child & Youth Rights , Poverty   Opinions


Bangladesh has huge number of youth who knows functional English and has college or university degrees but is unable to get job in city areas. These jobless youth can play prime role as a social entrepreneurs as well as ICT promotion and users of digital applications. Even though there is no internet and computers in rural areas but has high potentiality of ICT entrepreneurships as young people has enormous interest to receive the new culture and technologies.
It is proved; the future of ICT promotions, entrepreneurship by youth is bright in Bangladesh. Since 2001 the use of ICT tools has increased dramatically in Dhaka, major districts and divisional cities. In divisional cities almost 10,000 cyber café has been established, mobile phone users has also increased into 30 times, 70% house has satellite cable TV connections. Most significant information is 75% mobile phone users and 95% cyber cafés’ owners are young. More than 90% cyber businesses are running successfully by young business men. Centering on “Village Cyber Kiosk” the agro based village ICT entrepreneurship can be expanded, huge number of social development initiatives can be run effectively.
In rural Bangladesh ICT entrepreneurship would be sustainable and profitable as it will provide service to the mass people. The young owners of the cyber kiosks and, or cyber center can income by providing the services of email and browsing, word processing, printing and publishing, design, net to phone usages, computer training, translation, market related information to village artisans, farmers and venders by making ‘bulletin board system (BBS)’ for local business man. They can start also web design, multimedia, digital photography, videography, software development etc services. The web shopping mall of the local products, computer accessories and software sailing business can be very profitable business. VISP (village Internet Service Provider), NGO and local government agencies can bring lot of work orders (for example data entry) from foreign countries and cities for trained village youth, particularly for rural educated girls. They can also be also man power media to recruit famous company.

The ownership :
The ownership of the modern technology should be majority people, in Bangladesh rural poor. Even though out of 64 in 43 districts have Internet accesses by BTTB, but still very expensive, are not available every places because of technical and administrative difficulties. People are not being conscious to use the internet for lack of information. To accomplish the following 3 steps Bangladesh can change the situation
1) By setting Internet Kiosks in the public place such as at/near railway stations, launch terminals, post offices, the ICT can be available and popular to semi urban, country site as well as rural communities.
2) Providing compulsory training on use of internet, computer as well as ICT education for all Government officials, and free internet connection to all government offices can change the attitudes of implementation levels.
3) By overcoming the bureaucratic inertia and gradually people to people, government to people, government to government interaction will be increased; people participation will be active for democracy and development.
By using the ICT and web applications villagers can get a lot of benefits. Village artisans and producers will get access to global markets as well as city market without middle men exploitations. They will be able to check current market everyday prices. Computer games will be modern and alternative entertainment for the rural children. Growing with computer use children will be 2nd generation programmers, technician and experts. Villagers will be able to communicate with relative in abroad by net to phone, email and chat instantly with low cost. Cyber Kiosk can be e-post office for the e-mail networking as all villages don’t having computers. From e-public services villagers will get benefit from government services like citizens’ rights information, getting driving license, passport, online voting banking, transportation etc.
Despite sustained domestic and international efforts to improve economic and demographic prospects, Bangladesh remains poverty, low level of formal education, overpopulation, and unaccountable Governing culture. The GNP per capita, is around 370.0 (1999, Atlas method current US$) The flow of goods and services in rural areas are hampered by high mark-ups through village middlemen who distort market conditions for their advantage. The middlemen buy at negligible prices from informal sector artisans and sell at a large profit to urban populations. This entire chain of events occurs because of the lack of information of the market that both village artisans and urban buyers face. If this void could be filled then the benefits to poor entrepreneurs would generate employment, increase income, and purchasing power for village residents. Proper initiatives will be taken to utilize ICT systems in agro-based industries, agricultural research, and dissemination of agricultural technology, agri-business development to the farmers and preparation and maintenance of agricultural database.


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Writer Profile
Shahjahan Siraj

Shahjahan Siraj is a multiemdia designer, film maker and development practitioner (http://www.machizo.com/siraj) in Bangladesh. He is the founder of Machizo Multimedia Communication, however editor and publisher of 'Climate Radio', 'UnnayanTV' and 'UnnayanNews'. (http://www.machizo.com)
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