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Zero digital divide campaign launched to eradicate digital inequality

Aspire to Innovate (a2i), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and the ICT Division today jointly launched a global campaign titled ‘Zero Digital Divide’ to eradicate digital inequality across the world. State Minister for Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Zunaid Ahmed Palak and UN Assistant Secretary-General and UNDP Assistant Administrator and Director of the Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific Kanni Wignaraja inaugurated the campaign at a function at the BCC auditorium at the ICT Tower in the city’s Agargaon area, said a press release. The centerpiece of this ambitious endeavor is the establishment of the e-Quality Centre, designed to ensure equitable access and participation in digital platforms worldwide. The ‘Zero Digital Divide’ campaign seeks to raise awareness about this centre’s pivotal role in eradicating digital disparities. Speaking on the occasion, Zunaid Ahmed Palak highlighted the government’s commitment to reducing digital inequality through innovative projects. Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman had always worked to ensure the equality in the country, he said, adding his daughter Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is similarly making all-out efforts to reduce the digital disparity of the country’s marginalized people under her visionary leadership. Highlighting Bangladesh’s role as a pioneer in technology-based public service innovation in the global south, Palak said Bangladesh has extended its hand in knowledge sharing and technological support, enabling southern countries to transition from importers to exporters of technology. The country aims to further support digital progress by sharing its technological expertise, thus narrowing the digital divide between underdeveloped and developing nations, he noted.Bangladesh will take a step forward in fulfilling the goal of ‘Smart Bangladesh’ through the ‘Zero Digital Divide’ campaign, the state minister said. Kanni Wignaraja emphasized on the importance of South-South and Triangular Cooperation to reduce the digital divide between southern countries and underdeveloped nations. She expressed the United Nations’ commitment to supporting the initiative in creating an inclusive and egalitarian digital society, ultimately launching the e-Quality Centre to meet Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) targets. Wignaraja said, “Bangladesh has a ray of hope. Here we are witnessing a lot of improvements. In 2010, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and former head of UNDP Helen Clark jointly inaugurated what is now a network of 9000 digital centres across the country but they started it from a remote island called Char Kukrimukri.”And now, in partnership with UNDP, the Bangladesh government is taking another audacious step forward by launching the ‘Zero Digital Divide’ campaign, she said, adding this initiative is not just a mere slogan; it’s a commitment to ensuring that no one is left behind in the digital revolution. Chairman of Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies (BIISS) Ambassador AFM Gousal Azam Sarker, a2i Policy Advisor Anir Chowdhury, President of the Jatiya Press Club Farida Yasmin, Founder of Women and E-Commerce Forum (WE) Nasima Akhtar Nisha and Co-founder of Access Bangladesh Foundation and Regional Representative of Commonwealth Disabled Peoples Forum (CDPF) Mohua Paul spoke at the function, among others, with a2i Project Director (joint secretary) Md Mamunur Rashid Bhuiyan in the chair. Head of Culture and Communications of a2i Purabi Matin presented the keynote paper on the global campaign while UNDP Resident Representative in Bangladesh Stefan Liller and Additional Secretary of ICT Division Mohammad Navid Safiullah were present at the event, among others.

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