Bangladesh has created a strong footprint in the global ICT sector with exports from this thriving sector exceeding the $1 billion mark, industry insiders claimed.
Use of technology has also become widespread in the county as the majority of the population has access to advance cellular and internet connectivity. Around 14.7 million out Bangladesh’s 16 million people are now using mobile phones and half of them are using the internet, according to official figures.
Many foreign tech firms are set to launch operations in Bangladesh in collaboration with local companies thanks to the booming local ICT market and business-friendly policy support from the government.
Experts said the ‘Digital Bangladesh’ vision adopted by the current government as its election manifesto in 2008 is driving the tremendous progress in the ICT sector.
Bangladesh is set to launch its maiden satellite ‘Bangabandhu -1’ into space in last week of this month.
This is one of the most remarkable achievements in Bangladesh’s technology sector, Telecom and ICT Minister Mustafa Jabbar said.
He said Bangladesh is moving forward to become a knowledge-based society with the help of technology.
“In 2008, Bangladesh was a very ordinary country. Over the last nine years, we experienced a significant progress in socioeconomic condition through technological transformation. The number of mobile users was 4.6 million in 2008, which currently stands at 14.7 million,” Mustafa Jabbar said while talking to the daily sun on Friday.
The minister also mentioned that the government has taken initiative to expand the broadband internet connectivity to the union level by the end of this year.
Mustafa, former President of Bangladesh Association of Software and Information Services (BASIS), informed that Bangladeshi software firms are now exporting tech-enabled services to 80 countries.
The government has established Union Digital Centres to reach the fruits of digitisation to the doorstep of the rural people. Around 200 types of information and services are available from these centres. The government has so far bought 40 percent of government services under electronic systems.
Two hi-tech parks, Jessore Sheikh Hasina Software Technology Park and Bangabandhu Hi-tech Park in Gazipur, have already started operating to accelerate growth in the ICT sector.
Industry insiders said Bangladesh is an attractive business hub for foreign investors as there is a huge market base of 16 crore people.
Regarding the growth in the ICT sector, ICT State Minister Zunaid Ahmed Palak said the policy support from the government has paved the way for endless prospects of the ICT sector.
“We made remarkable progress in our endeavour, such as - the establishment of Janata Software Technology Park and Jessore Sheikh Hasina Software Technology Park. We are building another 26 hi-tech parks across the country and expanding the Optical Fibre Cable up to the union level through the Info Sarker-3 Project,” the ICT State Minister said.
Zunaid Ahmed Palak also informed that the government announced cash incentives and reduced import duty by up to 25 percent for the ICT sector, which encouraged many tech firms to set up manufacturing plants here.
“The number of internet users increased by more than 100 folds in last 9 years. The ICT sector played a crucial role, directly or indirectly, in the process of ensuring the country’s readiness for graduating to the developing country status under the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina,” Palak added.
Japanese automobile giant Honda has made its footprint in Bangladesh while Bangladeshi motorcycle Runner is being exported to Nepal.
At least five global mobile brands including Samsung and Xiaomi are expected to set up manufacturing plants in Bangladesh by the end of this year. Bangladeshi electronic brand Walton set up a computer manufacturing plant where 60,000 unit laptops, 30,000 desktops and more 30,000 unit monitors are being produced a month. The company started exporting computers to Nepal and Nigeria.
More than 10 Bangladeshi companies – including REVE Systems, Tiger IT, DataSoft, Dohatec, eGeneration, Southtech – have set up offices in India, Nepal, Bhutan, Malaysia, Japan, UK, US and various African countries.
BASIS President Syed Almas Kabir said around 15 to 20 local companies have expanded their operations to other countries. “They are doing well. Apart from earning foreign currency, they are also brightening the image of Bangladesh. That is a good branding for the country,” he said, adding that some problems still persist when opening offices abroad.
More than 5 lakh freelancers and 3,000 back office professionals contributing in the outsourcing sector. ICT Division and US-based outsourcing firm Kazi IT Centre (KITC) have started a new collaboration to increase the contribution of Bangladesh to Business Process Outsourcing.
KITC earned $57 million in revenue last year and has set a target to earn $100 million in the current year.