Union Digital Centers paying back with diverse services

DHAKA, Sept 10, 2018 : Union Digital Centers (UDCs) are truly paying back with its diverse services as rural people are getting as many as 150 types of essential services from these centers.

Formerly known as Union Information and Service Centers, the UDCs were established in 2010 as the first step towards achieving the vision of building ‘Sonar Bangla’ Md. Parvez Hasan, Deputy Secretary and Local Development Specialist of a2i told.

The relevance and bright presence of the Digital Centers make everyone optimistic to reach various socio-economic services to the doorsteps of common people, said officials. Over the last eight years since 2010, the number of government-private sector service provider digital centers has raised to 5,866 from only 150.

The total number of rendered services totaled 367 million, the officials said, adding that the UDCs earned Taka 32.95 million as they charge nominal fees for services.

According to a2i, these centres have issued some 75 million online birth registration and 3300 centers are now engaged in agent banking. E-commerce (one-page) service is being provided by 800 centers, said the officials, adding that life insurance services are provided to 0.29 million rural people while four million people are given banking services.

Md. Parvez said, now a2i is working to establish the digital Bangladesh by the support of the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Division, UNDP and USAID. One of the main goals of this initiative is to decentralize all government activities through using digital method and thus reaching those to the grassroots across the country.

A male and a female entrepreneur are working at every digital center with the support of IT professionals.

According to a2i officials, over 10,000 entrepreneurs are providing such service from UDCs across the country.

From these UDCs, important services, including land registration application, passport application, birth registration, foreign employment registration, etc are being provided.

“From now on, the government is working to make the digital centers into truly ‘one stop service centers’ for everyone,” an a2i specialist.

In continuation of this, agent banking has been launched at all the digital centers through the a2i. The common people of the villages are now getting the benefits of digital banking services near their home.

From electricity bill payment to receive inward remittance, all such services are being provided from these digital centers. If anyone has an account in the bank, people can feel encouraged to make savings and this has increased the participation of grassroots in the national economy and development process.

Under the social safety net programme, the allowance for digitization is being received directly from the Ministry of Finance in a digital way (SMS) to the beneficiaries of the country while the distributors of the digital money organizers are paying the allowances.

Piloting of such an initiative is going on in five districts of the country (Kishoreganj, Narsingdi, Chapainawabganj, Gopalganj and Cox’s Bazar).

If it is implemented successfully, the harassment of the marginalized people will come down at zero level.

The e-commerce service has also been introduced through the Digital Center with the expectation that the rural people will find their required products online at a competitive price.

Meanwhile, with the vision of creating easy, quick and affordable access to public and private services to the underserved, a2i has recently launched 5 digital centers in Gazipur district’s garments concentrated area targeting RMG workers and 1 digital center in Khulna targeting fisheries sector workers.

After the success in Saudi Arabia with ‘Expatriate Digital Centres’ (EDCs), authorities of a2i also have decided to launch such centres in five more countries for providing quick services to Bangladeshi expatriates.

These five countries are Malaysia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, Kuwait and Qatar.