Category Archives: Service Delivery

Administrative decision in Bangladesh is a barrier to technology satisfaction or adoption

Administrative decision practice and underlying politics in  Bangladesh is the greatest barrier to technology satisfaction of citizens or even adoption of the same. While many can easily relate the issue, I shall just put one example here.  A recent Bangla news in says that due to technical difficulty 11.5 thousand BCS candidates could not complete application process. The Mobile-based services operator Teletalk stated the limitations of the technical system to the newspaper. Furthermore, they anticipated problems reported by the newspapers much earlier and asked the BCS examiniation administration to extend some processing deadline. But they did not!!!

It would take much longer to educate the administrative heads to deal sensibly with e-service systems. They might hinder further adoption by the mass.

I strongly believe that private sector will have faster rate of adoption than the public counterparts. The underlying reasons are simple, unnecessary hassle with administrative decision.


Mobiles reign in households

Source:, Published on 28 May, 2010.

Mobile phone has become a major communication device at family levels, covering around half of all families in Bangladesh, says a study of Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics. Mobile phone is seemed as a great tool of building Digital Bangladesh.

A Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) survey also shows that mobile usage at household levels mainly began rising in 2005. It also means that a stiff price war that began in the same year mainly contributed to dispersing the technology.

According to the survey, 48.3 percent households owned mobile phones at the end of 2009, whereas there were 2.2 percent land phone users at household levels. In 2005, only 10 percent households were covered by mobile phones, says the survey. According to the last census by BBS held in 2001, the total number of households was 25.4 million.

The Welfare Monitoring Survey (WMS) covered as many as 14,000 households for the country as a whole as sample size. Under the preview, there were 8,400 rural households and 5,600 urban households.

The mobile technology was introduced in Bangladesh in 1993. The device gradually became popular among users when the Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) was launched in 1997. However, the high price of the technology kept it away from the general public until 2005.

Industry insiders said the revolutionary entry of the mobile technology at household levels mainly happened because of the countrywide coverage and availability of the technology.

“I came here to buy a mobile connection because it is near my house,” said Mahbuba Haque, who was standing at a small shop near Maghbazar intersection. Mahbuba said she bought the mobile for home use. She said she is more comfortable in using her mobile to communicate with people. The different value added services also attract her to use mobiles. Citing an example, she said, through a mobile conference call, I can talk to several relatives at a time, which is truly a nice way of social communication.

Voice communication through mobile telephony started with CDMA (code division multiple access), which was introduced by Pacific Bangladesh Telecom Ltd — the owning company of Citycell — in 1993.

The expensive communication device started to become handy after the introduction of GSM by Grameenphone and Robi (then known as AKTEL) in 1997.

Banglalink and state-run TeleTalk launched their services in 2005 and Warid came in 2007.

Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) data shows that the number of customers under the mobile networks reached 52.43 million at the end of 2009. As of April 2010, the number of mobile users was 56.43 million, according to BTRC.

On the other hand, only 1.03 million customers were tagged with landline telecom services at the end of April 2010.

Oddvar Hesjedal, chief executive officer of Grameenphone, said: “The mobile communication will be a major driver to achieve a Digital Bangladesh. It took 15 years to reach the first 50 million customers; I feel that in the right business environment, the next 50 million subscribers will happen much faster,” he said.

However, a real hurdle to such development is the SIM tax, which makes new connections more expensive, he said.

“The mobile technology has brought about a revolution here,” said Zakiul Islam, president of Association of Mobile Telecommunications Operators of Bangladesh.

“If some tax structures are eased, the market will grow further,” he said.


ToT began on how to run UISC

Source: A2I,

Government has a plan to set up 1000 Union Information and Service Centre (UISC) across the country by June 2010. Skill development for the entrepreneurs is prerequisite for UISC.

With this in mind, a training of trainers (ToT) on how to run a Tele-centre began at the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) on May 08, 2010. UNDP supported Access to Information (a2i) Programme, National Institute of Local Government (NILG) and Bangladesh Computer Council (BCC) jointly organized the training event.

Mahfuzur Rahman, Executive Director of Bangladesh Computer Council inaugurated the event as the chief guest. The National Project Director of Access to Information (a2i), Md. Nazrul Islam Khan was in the chair.

In addition to 100 existing UISCs, NILG will set up 900 more UISCs across the country by June 2010. The trainees will provide training to the entrepreneurs who will run the UISC afterwards. The training program is designed to building the capacity of entrepreneurs so that they can provide service to rural people efficiently.

120 participants divided into four batches from Bangladesh Computer Council are attending the training program. Each batch will be provided a four day long training on Information and Communication Technology and e-services.


ePurjee ends sugarcane farmers’ misery

Source: The Daily Star,, 20 August, 2010

Farmers of the subcontinent have started to grow sugarcane commercially since the colonial era and the process of procuring sugarcane, founded by the British, was a bit messy and lengthy since then.

The then governments gave estimations to the farmers according to the capacity of their lands through a ‘Purjee’- a hand-written purchase order- and the system had not been improved till 2008 when there are around 2.5 lakh sugarcane farmers in the country.

‘Purjee’ is a legal permit for the sugarcane growers given by the sugar mill, which help them to supply produces and receive payment against it.

A ‘Purjee’ validity remains only for three days in which growers must supply their produces to the sugar mills. The criticality of this period gives certain groups of people an opportunity to foster corruption, thus depriving the growers of their rights to access information.

Besides, the growers need to wait in the mill gate for several days after which the mill management buy their crop. As a result, the sugarcane lose its weight reducing returns for the farmers.

Against the backdrop of various sufferings of the farmers, Forhad Zahid Shaikh, a visionary system analyst of the Access to Information (A2I) Programme at Prime Minister’s Office, realised the urgency of improving the existing system in 2008.

In his voice, “I have a first-hand experience of how sugarcane farmers suffer during the harvesting”.

“I wanted to do help the farmers in a way that serves the best and then the idea of digitising the ‘Purjee’ system came to my mind”, said Shaikh.

The Digital Sugarcane Procurement and Development System or Digital Purjee Information Service, a joint initiative of A2I programme and Bangladesh Sugar and Food Industries Corporation (BSFIC) was preliminarily introduced in two sugar mills out of 15 across the country — Faridpur and Mobarakganj sugar mills.

The SMS based “Purjee Management System” sends text messages from authorise centre of the sugar mills to the listed growers’ mobile phone, notifying them the beginning of the harvesting season in late October.

More importantly, the system relieves the farmers from queuing in front of the sugar mills.

“In case of emergency, like information of Purjee cancellation, stoppage of cane supply or inclement weather, the notifying system is very efficient, cost and time effective”, Shaikh stated.

Shahidul Islam, a Sugarcane grower of Magura said, “This service not only acted as a confirmation of Purjee issuance, but also reduced our challenges in supplying Sugarcane on time.”

“We are going to implement the system in all sugar mills from October this year. And we are taking all the field level preparations right now”, Shaikh told this reporter.

Hats off to A2I and BSFIC for the initiative.

BTRC makes mobile phone customer care calls toll-free


Mon, Aug 16th, 2010 4:56 pm BdST

Dhaka, August 16 ( — The telecoms regulator has moved to ensure free customer care calls for mobile phone customers.

The regulator has also issued a number of specific directives regarding basic services to mobile phone customers.

Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) has directed mobile operators to switch to a common toll free number 121 for customer care services by October and also asked not to charge for calls or text messages to that number.

At present, the operators charge between Tk 1 and Tk 2 per minute for calls made to customer care services.

The regulatory commission, in a directive of August 4, also set certain benchmarks for the quality of customer service in an effort to “protect social and economic interest of the customers”.

Operators are obligated to respond within 90 seconds by a call centre agent. In case of electronic response it is 20 seconds.

“The initiative aims to reduce hassles of the consumers; there are cases when a subscriber has to wait for long for a response,” a BTRC official said preferring anonymity as he was not authorised to speak to the press.

Despite several attempts, BTRC chairman Zia Ahmed could not be reached for any comments.

According to the directive, consumers will be able to lodge complaints with the commission if respective companies fail to address their problems.

The regulator has also reserved the provision to issue a compulsory enforcement order to the telecom operators in such cases.

Operators will have to maintain a database system of such toll free calls including related information of the complaints from customers and disposals of the complaints.

It also asked to record details of officials handling the grievances, so that proper action can be taken in case a customer is not satisfied with the service.

Operators will also have to submit a quarterly report to the BTRC, where the number and type of complaints received and the actions taken against it have to be included.

The reports have to be sent to the BTRC with 15 days from the end of each quarter, reads the directive.

It also asked operators to settle all refunds like, deposit, credit, waiver or adjustments within a month of billing or charging.