Opposition political parties and some other groups raised a storm of criticism about Bangabandhu Satellite-1. Various comments came up from different parts of society. Why spending so much money, it will not be a success! Many have said that sending a satellite into space is a 'fantasy’ or ‘luxury'. Later they said ‘dream come true’.
Maybe they did not realise at the initial stage that it was not a fantasy or luxurious venture, it was a timely move of the present government. The current world depends heavily on science, information and technology. Not only Bangladesh but also neighbouring India, Malaysia and many other countries are enjoying the benefit of their own satellites. Bangladesh is the 57th country in the world to send a satellite into orbit. The Soviet Union sent the first satellite into space in 1957. Since then, one after another, different countries have started sending satellites into space. Among the active satellites orbiting the earth at present, 1616 satellites belong to the United States, 298 to China, 88 to India, 68 to France, 42 to Britain, 23 to Spain, 14 to Turkey, 13 to Saudi Arabia and 3 belong to Pakistan. Many other countries, including Malaysia, have also sent satellites into space. The purpose of sending a satellite into space was not to gain financial benefit in the beginning but to serve the people of the country. The modern world continues to depend on information technology. In this situation, why Bangladesh will lag behind?
Private TV channels and state-run TV channels are subscribers. Foreigners are also coming. Since Bangabandhu Satellite-1 launched, 11 companies from 6 countries have signed agreements to use the satellite. Besides, an agreement has been signed with Thaicom and Bangabandhu Satellite-1 to provide services through Bangabandhu Satellite-1 in areas where there is no Thai satellite coverage. Bangladesh will earn a lot of foreign currency from all these foreign companies. On the other hand, the use of Bangabandhu Satellite-1 by domestic media companies will save a huge amount of foreign exchange. In addition, all TV channels in Bangladesh have been able to save 5,000 dollars per month.
Altogether Bangabandhu Satellite-1 started getting commercial success. It is now earning around Tk. 116 Crore per year. The way of income is getting easier. In a word, Bangabandhu Satellite-1 is overall successful. On the one hand, it is giving services to the people and on the other hand, it is earning money. The success is indeed a slap in the faces of the criticisers. Bangabandhu Satellite-2 is going into space. It will be sent into space in the next two years. PricewaterhouseCoopers(PWC) of France has already been hired as a consultant. It will be launched and used in 2023. Once Bangabandhu Satellite-2 is launched, the government will also be thinking about Satellite-3 and Satellite-4.
In this context, it can be said that the benefits of digital Bangladesh have spread from cities to villages. The golden Bengal of Bangabandhu's dream has been made a reality by his worthy daughter Sheikh Hasina. Leader of the people (Jananetri) Sheikh Hasina promised to transform the country into an information technology-rich digital Bangladesh. And that promised has already been fulfilled. The country is moving forward and will move forward further depending on information technology. Sajeeb Wazed Joy, the worthy son of Sheikh Hasina and her IT adviser, has played a special role. Sajeeb Wazed Joy's contribution to the overall improvement in the ICT sector is certainly important. More than 50 thousand jobs have been created in this sector. The government hopes that 10,000 people will be employed in this sector by 2025. Citizens are now getting more than six hundred government services online. Sajeeb Wazed Joy was the main initiator of sending Bangabandhu Satellite-1 into orbit. Through his initiative, Bangladesh has conquered space and Bangladesh is setting foot in the satellite world. Putting aside all speculations, Bangabandhu Satellite-1 is delivering services to the people of Bangladesh.
The writer is the director of Bangladesh Satellite Company Limited