Dhaka, December 13 (www.bdnews24.com): The Editor-in-Chief of www.bdnews24.com Toufique Imrose Khalidi received a special recognition from the Bangladesh government for his valuable contribution to the field of information and communication technology in Bangladesh.
A pioneer in the field, Khalidi received the award at the maiden event celebrating the country’s first National ICT Day on Tuesday. The date, Dec 12, was chosen to celebrate the Awami League’s declaration of Digital Bangladesh in its manifesto ahead of the 2008 elections.
The event was chaired by State Minister for ICT Zunaid Ahmed Palak. The Speaker of the Parliament Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury was the chief guest and presented the awards to the recipients.
Khalidi was recognized for turning bdnews24.com into an influential internet company revered for its news services by its audience around the world.
The website on the scene 11 years ago and was a path-breaker in Digital Bangladesh. It made a mark in the digital news business, even before that term became popular. It was the first dotcom company in Bangladesh to become a huge success story in an era when investors lost faith in internet companies in parts of the world.
The world was shocked by the free fall of dotcom companies after a speculative bubble burst. Back then, many in Bangladesh had treated bdnews24.com as just another internet company about to fail.
“We proved them wrong,” said Khalidi, who has been leading the company since its takeover in 2006 and turned it into Bangladesh’s largest news publisher.
The website showed a way beyond the conventional ad-dependent business model into monetising news services through what is internally known as New Media.
“We embarked on an unknown, untested and uncertain path to do something new. There were challenges and successes, dispiriting failures and the joys of victory. We paved a new road in the jungle,” Khalidi said in his instant reactions.
“We stayed the course through headwinds and have become what we are today.”
Many outlets in Bangladesh chased bdnews24.com’ss business secret and copied its model.
“It’s my immense pride that we set the stage for future news business in Bangladesh and beyond,” said Khalidi.
The Speaker, who stood in for President Md Abdul Hamid now on a previously unscheduled trip to Turkey, said that in 2008 few people were familiar with ICT, but Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her adviser Sajeeb Wazed had succeeded in translating the dream into a reality.
“ICT has deeply touched our lives and we have ensured that they are accessible at a reasonable price.”
She also called on the younger generation to use ICT to help Bangladesh develop apace with the rest of the world.
At one time there were only 800,000 internet users in Bangladesh, but now everyone can access the internet at a reasonable price, said State Minister Palak.
“Digital Bangladesh is no longer just the vision of the government, it has become the vision of the 160 million people of Bangladesh.”
Palak also noted developments in the ICT sector and forecast that ICT exports will reach $1 billion next year and $5 billion by 2021.
Dr Muhuammed Zafar Iqbal, a computer science and engineering teacher at the Shahjalal University of Science and Technology or SUST, has received the lifetime achievement award for his contributions to the ICT.
The SUST itself has been awarded for its extraordinary role in education.
The chief of the government’s Directorate General of Health Services has been chosen in the health category. Prof Abul Kalam Azad received the award for introducing digital health services.
The government’s Department of Agricultural Extension was awarded for its e-services through mobile innovation in agriculture.
For their contributions in publicising ICT in Bangladesh, three journalists — Faridur Rahman Pantho of Channel i, Muhammad Khan of Bangla-language newspaper Kaler Kantho, Mahmudul Hasan of state news agency Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha — have been recognized by the government.
The award for software innovation went to Leads Corporation and Leadsoft Bangladesh Chairman Shaikh Abdul Aziz.
Government official Begum Umme Salma Tanzia, who serves as the Deputy Commissioner of Faridpur, received the award for her contributions to citizen services with the help of ICT.
The Dhaka North City Corporation also received the award for citizen services in the local government category.
The Smart Citizen Services award has been given posthumously to Dhaka North City Mayor Annisul Huq, who died on Nov 30 at a London hospital after his long battle against a blood vessel disease of the brain.
The award in the exporter category went to Service Engine, a business process outsourcing company founded in 2006.
City Bank, one of the leading banks in Bangladesh, received the award for providing the best online services.
The government honored Sheba XYZ as the best startup for connecting household service providers with customers in its online marketplace.
(The featured picture at the top shows Toufique Imrose Khalidi ,Editor in Chief of www.bdnews24.com receiving the award)