Bangladesh’s dreams of becoming a prosperous, developed, poverty-free and equitable nation are captured by its bold ‘Vision 2041’ – an aspirational strategic plan to transform the economy to reach High-Income Country (HIC) status by 2041 and achieve the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals along the way. Vision 2041 builds on Bangladesh’s remarkable journey towards mass digitization over the past 13 years, guided by its Digital Bangladesh. At the heart of this development journey lies a simple yet powerful idea: that creating shared prosperity isn’t possible unless administrative, financial, and political power is decentralised at the grassroots level. That is, unless all citizens are truly empowered. The Aspire to Innovation (a2i), a special programme of the government’s Digital Bangladesh agenda supported by the UNDP, focuses on doing precisely this by improving quality, widening access and decentralising the delivery of public services. Anir Chowdhury, policy advisor of the a2i programme, joins us from Bangladesh to tell us more.
Anir Chowdhury is the Policy Advisor of the a2i Programmme of the ICT Division and the Cabinet Division of the Government of Bangladesh supported by the UNDP. In this capacity, he leads the formation of a whole-of-society innovation ecosystem in Bangladesh through massive technology deployment, extensive capacity development, integrated policy formulation, whole-of-government institutional reform, and an Innovation Fund. His work on innovation in public service has developed interesting and replicable models of service delivery decentralization, public-private partnerships, and transformation of a traditional bureaucracy into a forward-looking, citizen-centric service provider. He is a regular speaker in international conferences on public service innovation and reform, digital financial inclusion, data-driven policymaking, civil registration and digital identity management, SDGs, youth and community empowerment, educational transformation, public-private partnerships, and South-South Cooperation. He regularly writes in reputed national and international blogs, journals and publications.