Maheshkhali declared ‘digital island’

The government yesterday declared Moheshkhali, one of the country's most remote islands, a "digital island", aiming to make it a model for the world in five years.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina made the statement at the inauguration of a project entitled "Digital Island Moheshkhali" which connected the Upazila of Cox's Bazar to high-speed Internet, reports BSS .

A 22-kilometer fiber-optic cable was installed in the island. With the introduction of the digital system, the island that can greatly contribute to the national economy has been digitally connected to the mainland of the country as well as the whole world.

"Moheshkhali is a treasure, but we could not use it properly," said the Prime Minister.

Zunaid Ahmed Palak, state minister for ICT, said that the island is famous for fisheries, betel leaves and salt, but local farmers can hardly market the products Due to the lack of communication channels.

"We have already set up an e-commerce center where traders and farmers can train and open a new window for businesses," said Minister of State Moheshkhali When the PM launched the project by videoconference from Gono Bhaban.

The Government of Bangladesh, Korea Telecom (KT) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) jointly implement the Tk 22.35 crore project, which is expected to be completed by September, next year.

The program will not only provide broadband broadband connection to all island institutions but will also improve access to information technologies for people.

Broadband connectivity will also allow the 4 lakh of the island to access electronic services in agriculture, education and health as well as other services of the government.

As part of this project, 25 local educational and governmental institutions are already connected to broadband Internet, Palak said.

The government also took the support of various non-governmental organizations and mobile operators for the project. He was also looking for other partners that could have an impact on improving people's lives, he added.

According to the Minister of State, the KT and IOM would monitor the infrastructure and services.

Earlier last February, the ICT Division signed a memorandum of understanding with the KT at Mobile World Congress to turn the island into a digital island.

Palak said that Moheshkhali's education rate was very low and that the government was aiming to transform people without education into human resources.

"Over the next few years, Moheshkhali will have power pants and a seaport. So a lot of skilled manpower would be needed and local people could be a resource," he added .

Hasina said his government was considering introducing the digital system to other remote areas of the country in stages.

"More facilities would be available to us when Bangladesh's first satellite would be launched into orbit," she said.

Due to the project, the whole world would come under the hand of the people of Moheshkhali who would be able to know the world and maintain contact with others at home and abroad.

The Prime Minister said that people would get better education and health facilities, while a huge job opportunity would be created through the implementation of the project.

IOM's mission chief Sarat Chandra Das and Cox's Deputy Commissioner Bazar, Ali Hossain, also spoke to Moheshkhali while the CEO and President of Korea Telecom Chang -gyu Hwang sat in Seoul, South Korea.

Prime Minister HT Imam, State Minister for Telecommunications Tarana Halim and South Korean Ambassador to Bangladesh, Ahn Seong-doo, attended Gono Bhaban.

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