The ekShop, a groundbreaking project launched by Aspire to Innovate (a2i), has been honored with the United Nations' prestigious 'SDG Digital GameChangers Award' for its remarkable efforts in diminishing the urban-rural divide by introducing e-commerce services to remote areas of Bangladesh. This accolade was presented in the 'Game Changer for Prosperity' category, a joint initiative by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).
The award ceremony, a highlight of the UN's dedicated SDG Action Weekend, took place on September 16th at the UN Headquarters in New York. A2i's Policy Advisor, Mr. Anir Chowdhury, Head of Commercial Strategy, Mr. Rezwanul Haque Jami, and Programme Associate (Outreach & Resource Mobilization), Mr. Md Sahariar Hasan, proudly accepted the award on behalf of the organization.
The SDG Digital GameChangers Award recognizes individuals and organizations at the forefront of digital solutions aimed at accelerating progress toward global goals. The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), in collaboration with other partners and supporters, presented this award in five categories: People, Planet, Prosperity, Peace, and Pioneer.
Despite the worldwide adoption of the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015, achieving these 17 Goals and their 169 associated targets remains a significant challenge. Accelerating progress necessitates the rapid adoption of digital technologies and continuous innovation. As leaders from governments and businesses worldwide convened for the United Nations General Assembly, a new UN-led partnership recognized digital innovators dedicated to SDG success.
The ekShop, with its inclusive e-commerce model, empowers small and medium-sized enterprises, refugees, and individuals facing digital disparities, particularly in the least-developed countries. This initiative has emerged as a vital digital public good, effectively bridging the digital divide and making a substantial impact. This achievement not only reflects positively on Bangladesh but also sets an example for others worldwide to develop sustainable economic systems aligned with the SDGs.
The ekShop stands as Bangladesh's pioneering rural-assisted e-commerce platform, with a primary mission to deliver essential products swiftly and conveniently to people's doorsteps. Currently, over 12 thousand rural artisans are actively selling their products through this platform, which has already facilitated the delivery of more than 8 million products to various regions of the country via cash on delivery.
Sellers interested in showcasing and selling their products can easily join the ekShop platform, either independently or with assistance from entrepreneurs at Union Digital Centres. Moreover, the ekShop offers a comprehensive delivery management system, which proved invaluable during the COVID-19 pandemic. This service is accessible to any e-commerce organization or entrepreneur for product delivery, with the involvement of the Post & Telecommunication Division and various product delivery organizations nationwide.
To address the digital disparity issue, the ekShop's model is being replicated not only within Bangladesh but also in underdeveloped countries such as South Sudan, Yemen, Turkey, Somalia, and a province of the Philippines. The United Nations is actively supporting the expansion of this model beyond Bangladesh's borders.
a2i, a comprehensive government program implemented by the ICT Division and Cabinet Division, with support from UNDP Bangladesh, plays a pivotal role in promoting citizen-friendly public service innovations, simplifying government procedures, and bringing government services closer to the people. It aligns with the government's efforts to adopt new, whole-of-society approaches in achieving the SDGs.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today paid rich tributes and offered prayers at the mausoleum of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman here.
She paid homage by placing a wreath at Bangabandhu's grave and joined a prayer this afternoon seeking eternal peace of the departed souls of Bangabandhu and other martyrs of August 15, 1975 carnage.
After laying the wreath, she stood in solemn silence for some time as a show of profound respect to the memory of the architect of independent Bangladesh.
Family members and Awami League (AL) leaders were present.
Sheikh Hasina, also president of the Awami League, on a personal trip reached her ancestral home at Tungipara in Gopalganj by road after crossing the Padma Bridge this afternoon.
After spending tonight at her Tungipara residence, she is scheduled to leave for Dhaka tomorrow.
Foreign Minister Dr. AK Abdul Momen has pledged that Bangladesh would continue supporting the seven priorities of the United Nations (UN) Secretary General's Action for Peacekeeping agenda.
"Our principled position, rooted in the foreign policy dictum of our Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, serves as a guiding force. This stance consistently propels us force to actively participate in the peace endeavors of the UN including promoting culture of peace, contributing to peacekeeping operations and facilitating peacebuilding," he said.
The foreign minister was speaking as a panelist in the UN Peacekeeping Ministerial in Accra, Ghana on Wednesday, according to a message received here today.
Momen, who is leading a high-level Bangladesh delegation, made peacekeeping pledges on behalf of Dhaka at the UN Peacekeeping Ministerial.
Earlier, Bangladesh Foreign Minister held a meeting with his Hungarian counterpart Peter Szijjarto on the sideline of the Ministerial.
The two foreign ministers discussed various issues of mutual interests in a warm and friendly atmosphere.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today said the concession agreement on operation of Patenga Container Terminal (PCT) between Chittagong Port Authority (CPA) and Saudi Arabia's company Red Sea Gateway Terminal (RSGT) will help further enhance Saudi investment in Bangladesh.
"This concession agreement is a testament to our two countries' joint vision and steadfast commitment to economic cooperation and prosperity," she said.
The prime minister along with Saudi Investment Minister Khalid Al Falih witnessed the signing ceremony at her office here as CPA Chairman Rear Admiral Mohammad Sohail and CEO of RSGT Jeans O. Foley inked the agreement.
The Saudi minister earlier paid a courtesy call on the Bangladesh premier at her office in the morning.
"As we witness the signing of this concession agreement, we look forward to a future where Patenga Container Terminal will become a driving force for economic growth and prosperity in Bangladesh," Sheikh Hasina said at the signing ceremony.
She said that the RSGT will operate the Patenga Container Terminal for the next 22 years that will strengthen bilateral relations, especially in the field of trade and commerce.
The Chittagong Port Authority's Patenga Container Terminal Project is a beacon of hope for Bangladesh's economic uplift, she added.
The premier said this self-reliant modern terminal will enhance the capacity of port, facilitate seamless trade, and create job opportunities and entrepreneurship.
"It will act as a gateway to global trade, opening up new opportunities for our businesses to connect with the world," she said.
The terminal will help boost regional economic growth as India, Bhutan and Nepal can also use the terminal, she also said.
Sheikh Hasina said the investment of Saudi Arabia in the Patenga Container Terminal will enhance the image of Bangladesh on the global stage.
The prime minister described Saudi Arabia as a friendly country and an important development partner for Bangladesh.
"The people of Bangladesh have deep respect and trust for the people of Saudi Arabia. We have always found Saudi Arabia close to our hearts," she said.
Sheikh Hasina said the RSGT is a reputed global terminal operator designated by the Saudi government.
She also expressed her sincere thanks and congratulations to the Saudi government for appointing this terminal operator to operate the Patenga Container Terminal.
"This initiative of the Saudi authorities is undoubtedly a recognition of the ongoing development and economic potential of Bangladesh," she said.
"I hope that RSGT, with its reputation for managing Jeddah port and other terminals, will manage the Patenga container terminal with its skills and technical know-how," she added.
By doing this, the head of the government said the Chittagong port operations will become more efficient and meet international standards.
"Consequently, our economy will benefit from a significant decrease in import-export expenses," she said.
The premier also expressed her deep gratitude to King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman, for their trust and cooperation with the government and people of Bangladesh.
She thanked to the Saudi investment minister and his delegation for their firm support in the implementation of this project.
"Your commitment to the economic development of Bangladesh is deeply appreciated," she said.
PM's Private Industry and Investment Adviser Salman Fazlur Rahman, Saudi Investment Minister Khalid Al Falih and Chairman of the RSGT Aamer A. Alireza spoke at the function as State Minister for Shipping Khalid Mahmud Chowdhury delivered the opening remarks.
Ambassador of Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to Bangladesh Essa bin Yousuf Al Duhailan as well as Saudi and Bangladeshi businessmen were present.
Awami League (AL) General Secretary
Obaidul Quader today said the AL is working to ensure a flawless democracy in
"The Awami League is working to ensure a flawless democracy in the country . . . The quarter which wants to foil the polls by enforcing hartal and blockade is not any more a democratic force," he told newsmen here today.
Quader, also road transport and bridges minister, said this while talking to reporters after paying tributes to Hossain Shaheed Suhrawardy by placing a wreath at his grave near Doyel Chattar in the capital, on the occasion of his 60th death anniversary.
He added: "I don't know whether absolutely flawless democracy or any perfect democracy exists anywhere in the world. But Bangladesh is working for it."
The AL is struggling to make the democracy of Bangladesh free from all sorts of defects and it has become possible to make an independent situation for the democracy in Bangladesh by dint of the personal efforts of the AL President and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, he observed.
Replying to a query of reporters on Awami League's Dhaka rally on December 10, the AL general secretary said, Awami Legaue decided to hold a rally on December 10 marking the Human Rights Day. But the decision was canceled as the Election Commission denied giving permission."
On the Human Rights Day, he said that the AL had a programme to hold a big rally at the South Gate of Baitul Mukarram, and now the rally will be held inside respecting the electoral rules.
Paying tributes to the memory of Hossain Shaheed Suhrawardy, Obaidul Quader said, "Hossain Shaheed Suhrawardy, a pioneer of democracy, was a fearless hero of the democracy."
Suhrawardy fought his whole life for democracy and served in jail many times by Pakistani forces, the AL general secretary added.
Awami League presidium member Dr Abdur Razzaque, joint general secretary AFM Bahauddin Nasim, organizing secretary BM Mozammel Haque, office secretary Barrister Biplab Barua, education and human resource affairs secretary Shamsunnahar Chapa, agriculture and cooperatives affairs secretary Faridunnahar Laily, deputy publicity and publication affairs secretary Syed Abdul Awal Shamim, deputy secretary Sayem Khan and executive member Sahabuddin Faraji, among others, were present.
A total of 253 arson attacks have been recorded till 6 am today during the blockades and hartals called by BNP, Jamaat and like-minded opposition parties since the end of October.
An arson attack was reported between 6 am on December 4 till 6 am today during the second day of the latest road, rail and waterways blockade called by the opposition parties.
The arson attack was carried out in Dhaka’s Gulistan area at 2:23 pm on Monday, said Shahjahan Sikder, deputy assistant director of Fire Service and Civil Defence headquarters’ media cell.
A total of 10 members of two firefighting units worked to douse the fire, added the fire official.
Giving a break today, the BNP and like-minded opposition parties are going to enforce another 48-hour road-rail-waterway blockade across the country starting from Wednesday morning to protest the schedule for the next national election announced by the Election Commission (EC).
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today paid rich tributes and offered prayers at the mausoleum of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman here. She paid homage by placing a wreath at Bangabandhu's grave and joined a prayer this afternoon seeking eternal peace of the departed souls of Bangabandhu and other martyrs of August 15, 1975 carnage.
A total of 253 arson attacks have been recorded till 6 am today during the blockades and hartals called by BNP, Jamaat and like-minded opposition parties since the end of October. An arson attack was reported between 6 am on December 4 till 6 am today during the second day of the latest road, rail and waterways blockade called by the opposition parties.