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A4AI renews partnership with Bangladesh government and appoints first National Coordinator

A4AI has renewed its three-year partnership with the Government of Bangladesh through the Aspire to Innovate Programme (a2i). a2i is Bangladesh’s whole-of-government flagship digital transformation programme implemented by the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Division of the Ministry of Posts, Telecommunications and Information Technology and Cabinet Division, supported by UNDP. 

Under the renewed partnership, the a2i Programme and A4AI will share the common goal of promoting activities to advance affordable access and meaningful connectivity to mobile and fixed-line internet in Bangladesh. The partnership will aim to improve internet quality, widen access, and decentralise the delivery of public access services through good practices and policy reforms. 

“We are pleased to continue our partnership with the A4AI”, Policy Advisor of a2i – Mr. Anir Chowdhury said, “a2i is committed to driving innovation in the digital era and strives to facilitate a citizen-friendly policy environment and public-private partnerships for the best internet and ICT services to Bangladesh citizens. We look forward to continuing combining our efforts to provide an all-inclusive approach to drive down the cost of high-speed and reliable internet access and provide meaningful connectivity and e-services to the people of Bangladesh.

As part of the renewed partnership, A4AI is also delighted to announce the appointment of Mr. Shahid Akbar, the National Coordinator for Bangladesh to lead the national efforts in strengthening its strategic relationships and partnership with various stakeholders within the government, private sector, public sector, and civil society to advocate and work towards affordable broadband provision for Bangladesh.

“We are excited to have an accomplished digital inclusion expert in Mr. Shahid Akbar as A4AI Bangladesh’s first National Coordinator, to provide the needed guidance and to support our advocacy of making broadband more affordable and meaningful for consumers in Bangladesh”, said Ms. Eleanor Sarpong, A4AI’s Deputy Director & Policy lead. 

Mr. Shahid Akbar has led ICT4D initiatives in Bangladesh and currently works with Women Innovation Challenge, a Bangladesh designed and led B-lab (Rural Innovation project) facilitating Women ICT Frontiers Initiative to empower women entrepreneurs. He has worked on the eAgriculture Strategy and Bangladesh National ICT strategy. He is also the founder of e-Krishok, an agricultural information and advisory platform. Akbar has contributed to developing policy guidelines for international development organisations such as ITU, FAO, UNESCAP/APCICT, UNDP, and the USAID. He continues to work towards initiatives that are aligned to Digital Bangladesh.

Mr Shahid Akbar said, “I am honoured to be elected to provide the local leadership of A4AI Bangladesh at a crucial time as the world grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic which has highlighted the importance of affordable ubiquitous internet for everyone. I hope to work with the relevant stakeholders in government, industry, and civil society to realise the vision of A4AI to make people’s life more empowered with standard internet connectivity.” 

A4AI and A2I look forward to realising key outcomes under this renewed partnership to impact policy and regulatory efforts in Bangladesh positively.

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