Bangladesh public service innovations earn global plauditsSep 20, 2016
South-South network sought to record and replicate experiences across the developing world
The Bangladesh government’s success in transforming the country’s public services through innovation and technology, earned global plaudits this week during the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
Participants at a side event during the UNGA, heard about the partnership between UNDP and the government in pioneering over 10,000 digital centres across the country that offer citizens over 100 public services, and has so far saved users an estimated half a million dollars in time and expenses in six years.
The Side Event on South-South & Triangular Co-operation on Scaling Up Innovations in Public Service Delivery was held on September 20, and chaired by H.E. Ms Sheikh Hasina, the Honorable Prime Minister of Bangladesh.
H.E. Ms Hasina, in her statement, voiced her government’s vision of transforming the country through a stronger focus on innovative public service delivery, mass access to information and enhanced transparency and accountability.
The Honorable Prime Minister proposed the creation of a South-South Network of Public Organizations to promote innovation in public service delivery, an idea that UNDP Administrator Helen Clark, who made opening remarks at the event, endorsed and committed to support.
Other speakers included government ministers from developing and developed countries, and heads of international development agencies.
Known across the country as the a2i programme, the public service delivery innovations have seen over 216 million users access services by the end of 2015. UNDP and the United States Agency for International Development remain the programme’s long-term partners.
“In our world, new challenges to development are continually emerging. Thus there is an urgent need to be agile and flexible in the way we do development,” Ms Clark said.
“In 2010, I had the honour to inaugurate with the Prime Minister one of the thousands of Digital Centres which are the hallmark of the a2i programme,” she added.
Pointing to rising importance of south-south cooperation in global development, she reiterated UNDP’s long-term commitment to supporting responsive and accountable institutions at all levels of government.
“The success of a2i is now in the process of being replicated in the Maldives and Bhutan which have, with the support of UNDP, established a learning partnership with the Bangladeshi programme. Nepal, Mongolia, and Seychelles have also expressed interest in joining in. This is a good example of how South-South and Triangular Co-operation can play an important role in public service delivery reform. We thank Bangladesh for making this happen,” Ms Clark said.
Anir Chowdhury, Policy Advisor to the a2i programme and one of the chief architects of its user-centric design and innovations, presented the results from the programme to the participants at the side-event.
“We are determined to take advantage of our demographic dividend by providing the right skills to your youth on leadership development, creative thinking, problem solving and collaboration to raise proactive 21st century citizenry,” he said.
“To borrow from the famous African proverb, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” Given the scale and urgent nature of public service challenges globally, we have to find a way to go far and fast, together,” Mr Chowdhury added.
The work in Bangladesh represents UNDP’s longstanding commitment to public service reforms. In 2012, in partnership with the Government of Singapore, UNDP established The Global Centre for Public Service Excellence. Its main objective: to promote innovation in public service delivery as a means of promoting sustainable development and SDG achievement, and to share proven solutions and lessons learnt with senior policy makers worldwide. In Kazakhstan, UNDP established the Astana Regional Hub on Civil Service, whose mission is to promote solution-exchange and effective systems of civil service in the region.
Cedric Monteiro, Regional Communications Adviser
Phone: +66 2 304 5246
Fax: +66 2 280 2700