The Center for Economic Studies (ESC) at the University of Dhaka organized the first panel discussion of the week-long 4th Bangladesh Economic Summit on Saturday.
The discussion focused on “The digital promise and the role of governance,” reads a press release.
Panelists for this session were Professor Mushtaq Khan of SOAS, University of London and Mehnaz Rabbani, Head of Operations and Strategic Engagement and Partnership at the BRAC Institute of Governance and Development.
The session was chaired by Dr. Shahadat Hossain Siddique, Professor in the Department of Economics, University of Dhaka, who opened the session by outlining the premise of the discussion and gave an overview of the digital economy in Bangladesh, reads -on in the press release.
Professor Mushtaq Khan said digitization improves transparency but not necessarily accountability. He used the Adhar card system in India as an example of information asymmetry and how governments could exploit it against minorities.
Mehnaz Rabbani highlighted gender disparities in digitalization. She cited difficulties faced by women owners of online businesses in registering and accessing financial services.
On the other hand, she highlighted the importance of connecting women entrepreneurs to accessible resources.
During the open discussion, Professor Mushtaq Khan said that the many limitations of digitalization must be understood and that economists and policymakers must understand the political economy to make better decisions.
He said making the digital system more efficient is a huge opportunity for innovators.
“Digitalization cannot solve the problems of weak governance”, he concluded.
According to research by Mehnaz Rabbani, there is no clear link between language barriers and low digital literacy, but internet use is higher in areas with high migration rates. She also discussed the possibility of adding more intermediaries based on cost-benefit analyses.
Dr Siddique summed up the session emphasizing that Bangladesh is in a transition phase and the only way to integrate the system is “learning by doing” which Prof Mushtaq Khan added that we need to focus on on improving governance and separating politics and governance from the issue of digitalisation.
He concluded by saying that the younger generation must be aware of both the opportunities and the dangers of the digital economy.