BIMSTEC Urged to Enhance Digital Connectivity and Innovation

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BIMSTEC Urged to Enhance Digital Connectivity and Innovation

State Minister for Post, Telecommunications, and ICT, Zunaid Ahmed Palak, has called on BIMSTEC Member States to establish a platform for seamless connectivity, cross-border data flow, and innovation-driven development to achieve meaningful digital transformation in the region.

Speaking as the chief guest at the closing session of the two-day “Regional Consultation on Global Digital Compact (GDC)” in Dhaka on Sunday, Palak emphasized the importance of promoting shared objectives and relevant priorities. The event was co-organized by the Government of Bangladesh and the BIMSTEC Secretariat.

The consultation aimed to unify the region’s voice in the ongoing GDC negotiations at the UN in New York, with expectations that the GDC will be adopted by world leaders at the UN Summit of the Future in September.

Palak reiterated Bangladesh’s commitment to digital diplomacy, aligning with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s Vision-2041 for a “Smart Bangladesh.” He referenced the ICT Division’s Agency to Innovate (a2i) proposal for a “Zero Digital Divide” at the UN last year and highlighted various initiatives shared with other Global South countries on digital public service delivery and innovation.

Stressing the need for data privacy, security, and upholding human rights, Palak announced the finalization of a draft Data Protection Act in line with international norms.

Foreign Secretary Ambassador Masud Bin Momen, who chaired the meeting, pledged to maintain the momentum generated by the consultation as Bangladesh prepares to take on the role of BIMSTEC Chair. He emphasized the promotion of digital literacy and the human-centric application of artificial intelligence and emerging technologies.

Secretary of the ICT Division, Md. Shamsul Arefin, proposed the creation of a “BIMSTEC Centre of Excellence” to share best practices in digital connectivity, cybersecurity, and digital literacy among Member States.

UN Resident Coordinator Gwyn Lewis lauded Bangladesh’s initiative to host the consultation and reiterated the UN’s commitment to supporting countries in implementing the GDC to ensure digital inclusion.

Speakers at the event included Professor Veranja Karunaratne from Sri Lanka, Mahishini Colonne, Director (Science, Technology & Innovation) at BIMSTEC Secretariat, and A H M Bazlur Rahman, Executive Coordinator of the Bangladesh Initiative for Unified Voices on Global Digital Compact and UN Summit of the Future 2024.

The consultation featured five technical sessions where BIMSTEC Member States discussed shared priorities regarding key GDC objectives, engaging government officials, academics, entrepreneurs, IT professionals, and youth participants. The sessions were chaired by Faiyaz Murshid Kazi, Director General (UN & MEA) of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Yasir Monon
Yasir Monon
Online Editor, Business Mirror

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