A digital connectivity project worth Tk 58.83 billion (5,883 crore) is set to roll out as the revised version of the project has recently passed the supplementary evaluation of the Chinese government.
We are expecting to get the approval of the project - 'Establishing Digital Connectivity (EDC)' - in the next ECNEC, NM Zeaul Alam, senior secretary to the ICT Division, told the FE on Thursday.
On May 30 in 2018, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs approved a proposal to implement the project under direct procurement method (DPM).
Bangladesh selected China Railway International Group for implementing the project on November 5, 2019 and the company got approval from the Chinese government to engage in the project in March 2020.
The project was placed in the ECNEC before but the ministry concerned was asked to resubmit the project as some documents required for the approval were not included.
The Chinese side made a delay in sending the documents, an official said.
The project aims at massive digitalisation of the country including all government services with the latest ICT infrastructure.
"The main objective of this project is to stretch the fibre optic connectivity to the village-level from the union-level," State Minister for ICT Junaid Ahmed Palak recently said when asked about the project.
"The way the present government has reached electricity to the village-level, fibre optic connectivity will also be reached in the same way to the village-level."
The state minister said under the project, some 109,244 broadband and user connections would be established, some 10,000 Sheikh Russell digital labs would be set up, and central server infrastructures would be installed for accommodating some 555 DSET field-level cloud file services and digital storage.
All the eight divisions, 64 districts and all upazilas, including unions and villages, will get new ICT infrastructure through which the government plans to provide e-services in a faster way.
Around 65 per cent of the project cost, which is Tk 33.78 billion (3,378.5 crore), will be provided by the Chinese government and the rest Tk 25.05 billion (2,505 crore) will be funded by the Bangladesh government.
The ICT ministry aims to complete the project by 2024.
Under the project, a 21-storey tower will be built in the capital's Purbachal to house an academy featuring modern ICT labs and facilities to nourish IT entrepreneurs.
According to reports, a digital literacy centre with an ICT lab and other necessary infrastructure, including smart virtual classrooms and distance learning platforms, will also be established under the project.
Besides, 10 digital villages, around 492 non-residential buildings and, for establishing a shared ICT operation centre, the building of 491 upazila complexes will be expanded upward by one story.
Under 10 digital village stations, field surveys will be conducted and 20,000 farmers will be provided with 'Sensor Devices'.
Under the project, a good number of entrepreneurs would be created in the ICT sector.
According to officials, the project operations also include establishing 57 specialised labs, central cloud platform and frontier technology centre of excellence, and expanding LAN, NOC facilities with IT infrastructures at district and upazila complexes.