The purpose of the research is to investigate whether ICT can play a role in processes of Poverty reduction in rural area in Bangladesh. The research study, questions and most likely ICT as a solution in Bangladesh socio-economic development, and at the same time it seeks to highlight possibilities that may exist with ICT implementation targeted at poor rural people.
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Novel laureate Economist Prof Muhammad Yunus (2001) opined that taking of some important decision regarding ICT and assuring their implementation would suffice to achieve the goal of eradicating the poverty and also the per capita income of the people could be double and allowing the free access of information and communication technology and expanding it could halve the number of the people living below the poverty line. With the availability of information technology, it is expected that agro-industry would be strengthened and developed more for self-reliant and sustained economic growth. This issue has been the focal point of this research.
Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs), including the Internet, are generating changes in markets, private and public sectors and economies in the developed as well as under-developed countries. Some sectoral changes are very large (business services, education) while others are not as big as expected. But they are present and advancing in every area of economic, social and political activity. This research proposes to start with economic perspectives on poverty and poverty reduction – on the one hand and on ICTs as technologies, and the very special characteristics of these technologies, which shape their impact on development and poverty reduction. For example, including the networking possibilities they enable, ICTs (massively) reduce transaction costs, change the structure of markets and of public services and institutions, integrate global and local markets, entrap human resources, and immediately increase the potential values of human capital.
The research will be conducted in Bangladesh which spreads over 147,570 sq. km. and is bordered by India on the east, west and north, and by the Bay of Bengal and a small border strip with Myanmar on the south. The population is 135.2 million, with a Male/Female ratio of 100:104 and a density per sq km of 916 people. Life expectancy is 68.20 years, and population growth rate is 1.5 (Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics, 2004). Per capita national income is currently US$ 444, while per capita Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is US$ 421 with the GDP growth rate constant at 5.33 percent. The country comprises six divisions, 64 districts, 507 police stations/upazilas, four city corporations and over 86,000 villages.
The status of Information technology (IT) in Bangladesh is not at par with the other developed countries, but recently the situation has changed significantly. The first mainframe computer came to Bangladesh in 1964 (Islam, 2004), but the use of PCs by the common people started very late due to the lack of awareness. Several large banks and private entrepreneurs in industrial sectors are the path makers of achieving benefits from computer and computerized applications. The Bureau of Statistics and a few nationalized banks are the leaders in using computers in the government sector by processing data and information, while industrial concerns in the private sector are the leaders in applying computers for their accounting, payroll and inventory related applications. In June 1996, the government allowed private entrepreneurs to act as Internet Service Providers (ISPs) using VSAT (Very Small Aperture Terminal). Initially there were only a few Unix-to-Unix Copy Protocol (UUCP) accounts in the country and then they were replaced by Internet protocol (IP) accounts (Bangladesh Computer Council and Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics, 1999).
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ICT can serve the developing world as a powerful tool to successfully face the on-going process of globalisation. Inspired by these opportunities, many developing countries have been aspiring to participate in the global marketplace through e-business, export of software and ICT-enabled services. Information and Communication Technology has created new opportunities and challenges for developing countries like Bangladesh to take full advantage of the potential of ICT to advance their economic and social development. Over 60% of the people in Bangladesh live in rural areas. The rural population tends to be poor, neglected and marginalized groups of society. In comparison to urban areas, the accessibility and availability of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is significantly lower in rural areas.
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