FOSS, localisation key to popularise ICT in rural Bangladesh, seminar told

Free and open source software (FOSS) and localisation are some of the key areas that can help make ICT popular in the rural Bangladesh, leading experts observed at a seminar, urging all to extend allout support in this regard.

Bangladesh Open Source Network (BDOSN) and Bangladesh Association of  Software and Information Services (BASIS) jointly organised the seminar on ‘Open Source and Open Content’ on the sidelines of a five-day IT and IT-enabled services fair styled ‘SoftExpo 2007′ at Bangladesh China Friendship Conference Center in Dhaka on March 30.

Speaking at the seminar as chief guest, Dr Muhammad Zafar Iqbal, dean of School of Applied Sciences and Technology, Shahjalal University of Science and Technology, noted there is no doubt that the people in future will prefer FOSS.

“Some young volunteers in Bangladesh are working with open source software, he said, hoping “We will see that it has become very popular in the near future in the country.”

Zafar Iqbal, one of the leading writers in Bangladesh, said: “I am trying to make open source popular through the characters in my writings and novels”

“I believe that we will move forward rapidly in this field,” he said fearing that there is a risk that the country may collapse any day if proper steps are not taken right now.

Chairing the seminar, M Masroor Ali, head of the department of Computer Science and Engineering of BUET, said: “We need to make our policy makers aware of the development in differerent areas of ICT so that they are able to take initiatives that can serve the interest of the country better.

“We need to give importance to localisation because it would help the rural people to use ICT in a better way,” he said.

Localisation would make it easy to a person with minimum education in the rural area to use Internet, Masroor Ali felt. “And Internet would meet any need of that person living in the rural area.”

In his keynote presentation, Munir Hasan, National Project Coordinator, strengthening the ICT Capacity of Prime Minister Office, said still there is not a single project on localisation to be undertaken by the government. Even private sector did not take any initiative so far, he said adding only the volunteers have done some works in this area.

Citing the example of orsaline, an essential medicine, developed by ICDDR,B, Munir said the most important medicine is now available in Bangladesh at nominal cost because of its ‘open source’ nature.

Mumit Khan, head of Centre for Research on Bangla Language Processing of Brac University, said open source software can play a key role in capacity building and localisation.

M Zahidur Rahman, chairman of the Department of Computer Science and Engineering of Jahangirnagar University, said open source is not a barrier to business. “It is also possible to do business with open source policy,”

(By Monjur Mahmud)

Bytesforall News, on Sat, 2007-03-31 06:43.

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