Bangladesh

Bangladesh, KT Corporation, IOM Aim to Improve Connectivity in Remote Region

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Republic of Korea - A pioneering initiative that will improve access to health care services, advance education and reduce climate vulnerability for communities on a remote Bangladeshi island is coming a step closer to reality today with the signing of a tripartite memorandum of understanding between KT Corporation, one of the largest telecommunication service providers in the Republic of Korea, the Government of Bangladesh and IOM.

At a ceremony held at the World Mobile Congress in Barcelona, Chang-gyu Hwang, CEO of KT Corporation, Zunaid Ahmed Palak, Bangladeshi State Minister for Information Technology and Communication, and Laura Thompson, Deputy Director General of IOM are committing to build a high-speed internet connection to Moheskhali, a remote island in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazaar region, one of the poorest areas in the country. The average literacy rate amongst the population is 30 percent, which is well below the national average of around 50 percent.

KT Corporation’s initiative will deliver social services, such as education and healthcare, to isolated communities. This will reduce the need for many residents to travel several hours to visit a doctor and enable children to receive school lessons at home or at community centers. Korea Telecom’s technology will also help reduce farmers’ vulnerabilities to climate change by providing up-to-date information on soil and weather conditions.

“ICT is a powerful tool to enhance the quality of life for people, especially those who live in hard-to-access areas. Through the collaboration with IOM and the Government of Bangladesh, we hope to make the daily lives of island residents easier, while contributing to the overall development of the region,” said KT CEO Hwang.

KT and IOM selected Bangladesh as the initial country to build a “digital” island due to the developing nation’s limited capacity to provide access to essential services for its 160 million plus population, the country’s vulnerability to the effects of climate change, and the government’s commitment to improve its citizen’s lives through access to digital services.

“We believe this innovative collaboration will improve resilience to climate change-related risks and reduce migration in search of access to basic services, which can put migrants and their families at risk,” said Deputy Director General Thompson, emphasizing IOM’s role in protecting current and potential migrants in vulnerable situations.

To kick-start the project, IOM will initially conduct a needs assessment to develop specific project plans for the island. The implementation of the two-year project is scheduled to begin in September 2016.

“The IOM-KT-Government of Bangladesh partnership is a good example of public and private cooperation, leveraging each organization’s expertise to address critical development challenges,” added Ambassador Thompson. “We hope that the Moheskhali GiGA Island Project will serve as a model that KT and IOM can expand into other vulnerable countries.”

For more information, please contact Ryung Shim at IOM Seoul, Email: rshim@iom.int, Tel: +82-70-4820-2783 or Peppi K. Siddiq at IOM Bangladesh, Email: pksiddiq@iom.int, Tel: +88-02-5504-4811

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