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Building the Framework for Smart City Development in Bangladesh

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At the inception phase of its ongoing project preparation study (PPS) in Bangladesh, ADB-CDIA introduced a framework for transforming Laksam, Feni, and Mirsharai into smart cities.

The PPS is being undertaken in preparation for the Bangladesh Smart City Development Project (BSCDP) supported by the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).

Bangladesh’s urban population now constitutes 31% of the country’s total population of 165 million (Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics). Under the Smart Bangladesh Vision 2041, the government is pursuing initiatives on smart city development to address its urban challenges. It focuses on urban clusters with high potential for economic development and promotes smart solutions toward efficient and integrated infrastructure delivery.

In line with this, AIIB is collaborating with Bangladesh’s Local Government and Engineering Department (LGED) to advance BSCDP, a $360-million investment for improving urban services, strengthening institutions, and promoting e-governance. It is envisaged to be implemented in three urban clusters – comprising nine cities – along major economic and transport corridors. AIIB is considering a $300 million investment to support BSCDP with the remainder to be funded by the Government of Bangladesh.

LGED requested CDIA to conduct a PPS targeting one of the three clusters comprising the cities of Laksam, Feni, and Mirsharai. The PPS encompasses the formulation of a smart city development framework with corresponding city-specific strategies, which can be replicated in other urban clusters in Bangladesh. It also includes the conduct of pre-feasibility studies for priority investments.

As part of the PPS, the ADB-CDIA team of consultants conducted field visits, data collection, and multiple rounds of consultations from March to May 2024, which assessed infrastructure development initiatives in the three cities. They also identified gaps in service delivery, the sectors needing intervention, and the emerging opportunities toward smart city development.

During an inception workshop with stakeholders on 29 May 2024, the consultants proposed a smart city development framework based on their initial findings. The framework has six guiding principles and eight pillars, which will serve as the foundation for designing and implementing smart solutions in the project areas. By aligning urban development efforts with the framework, the cities can aim for sustainable growth, resilience, and enhanced quality of life for the present and future generations. See framework.

Upon finalization of the smart city framework, the ADB-CDIA team will then develop city-specific strategies; conduct further assessments on policies, institutional structures, capacities, and municipal financing; and develop an institutional and capacity development roadmap.

They will further undertake pre-feasibility studies and outline designs for priority projects, deliver short-term capacity development activities, and prepare an environmental and social management planning framework.

Parallel to the PPS, AIIB has partnered with the Global Center on Adaptation to prepare a community-based climate action plan focusing on urban informal settlements and provide technical and capacity building support to mainstream urban resilience in BSCDP.

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Photos:

Lara Arjan (ADB’s Urban Development Specialist in charge of CDIA), Brian Capati (CDIA’s Urban Development Specialist), and Ivan Rodriguez Drobinski (ADB’s Urban Development Specialist) visited Bangladesh on 26-30 May 2024 to join the inception workshop, meet the various project stakeholders, and conduct field visits in the three cities.

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