The Bangladeshi government and the country’s mobile industry have the capacity to unlock digital transformation for millions of citizens by working more closely together, the GSMA revealed.

In a report entitled Bangladesh: Driving Mobile-enabled Digital Transformation, the association noted the mobile industry can play “a critical role” in the country, helping to realise the government’s Vision 2021 initiative and driving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The report, which was produced in partnership with the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida); the UK Department for International Development; and backed by the UN development programme, highlighted ways for the mobile industry to provide applications and services which are vital to a digital society beyond basic connectivity.

Key goals
Seven areas where collaboration could “accelerate impact” were identified, including closing digital access and gender gaps, increasing digital literacy, and improving health and financial inclusion.

For example, the mobile industry can provide affordable access to basic voice and data services to enable access to e-learning and online teaching networks to increase digital literacy. In addition, the study urged initiatives to empower women in the country, making them more connected and enabling access to information services with the potential to provide life enhancing opportunities.

Other examples include improving health standards by enabling access to informal information via voice, SMS and apps; improving agricultural productivity through digital technologies; and expanding the country’s access to financial services using mobile money.

The GSMA’s report said one of the vital components of Vision 2021 – the government’s roadmap for Bangladesh to become a middle-income country and eradicate poverty in four years time – was Digital Bangladesh.

This forms part of government’s drive to bring socio-economic transformation through ICT, with mobile so far proving an important element in the progress made by the country so far.

Bangladesh was noted to be “well on its way” to achieving its Vision 2021 goals and contributing to the SDGs, but challenges remain including population growth, poverty and inequality, urbanisation, natural disasters and climate change.

“By encouraging the use of mobile technology across all aspects of society, especially driven by government agencies that may not have considered mobile a key tool they can use to achieve their development targets, Bangladesh can potentially leapfrog other developing markets in terms of growth and economic progress,” added Alasdair Grant, head of Asia Pacific for the GSMA.