Saturday, 10 December, 2022

Digital Bangladesh: Part II

Bangladesh ready for hi-tech boom

  • Jannatul Islam, Back from Gazipur, Jessore
  • 12th December, 2021 09:51:17 PM
  • Print news
  • Investment in high-tech parks to reach Tk 25bn by 2022
  • 164 companies created 21,000 jobs in high-tech parks
  • Attractive incentives offered to tech investors

Bangladesh is turning into an emerging hardware and software hub as the government has been providing policy support to existing and new businesses at hi-tech parks and specialized economic zones for tech ventures.

Till now, the country has fetched Tk 6 billion in investments from local and foreign companies while the government invested Tk 10 billion for developing infrastructures in the hi-tech parks, according to Bangladesh Hi-tech Park Authority (BHTPA).

The total investment from the public-private sector in hi-tech parks stood at Tk 16 billion where the government injected Tk 10 billion for infrastructural development. Private sector investment reached Tk 6 billion while the government has earned Tk 600 million from hi-tech parks, according to official data.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina initiated the Digital Bangladesh programme on December 12, 2008 to ensure effective and useful use of technology to turn Bangladesh into a developed nation.

Bangabandhu Hi-Tech City in Gazipur plays a central role among eight hi-tech parks across the country to create a knowledge-based economy. Renowned companies like Nokia, Samsung, Hyundai have already started factory operations here.

Besides, Sylhet Silicon City and Sheikh Hasina Software Technology Park in Jessore have already provided plots to international companies engaged in joint venture projects with local partners. Japanese electronics giant Sony invested in Sylhet to produce television and home appliances jointly with its local partner Rangs.

Some 164 local and foreign companies have employed nearly 21,000 staffers in high-tech parks while the authority provides free space and mentorship to startups to help mature the business models.

Regarding the activities of hi-tech parks, State Minister for ICT Zunaid Ahmed Palak said Bangladesh is transforming the economy in touch with technology as local and foreign companies are developing products and services at hi-tech parks.

“Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina got introduced with hi-tech parks when she visited Cyber Jaya in Malaysia along with her ICT Affairs Adviser Sajeeb Wazed Joy in 1998. The government then acquired the unused land of satellite station in Kaliakoir of Gazipur from Science and Technology Ministry on July 17, 1999.” the state minister said.

“However, the development of hi-tech park postponed due to the change of government in 2001,” Palak added.

He said the government led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina lifted duty from the imports of around 100 types of spare parts to promote local manufacturing of electronics products.

“As a result, renowned companies like Samsung, Nokia and Xiaomi are producing smartphones in Bangladesh,” Palak said.

The junior minister estimated that Bangladesh will earn $5 billion from technology export in the next five years.

“Hi-tech parks and Sheikh Kamal IT Incubation centres across the country will support the goal by promoting local innovations and foreign investment,” he added.

For ensuring data privacy for government and private companies, the government developed National Data Centre in the Bangabandhu Hi-tech City, which is certified as Tire-4 standard by American agency Uptime Institute. The capacity of the centre is 22 pet bytes which is scalable to meet the growing demands.

“We are working to introduce G-Cloud service from our data centre to host all national information virtually,” state minister Palak added.

BHTPA managing director Bikarna Kumar Ghosh said the government is not only providing space to the companies but also provides knowledge support to the investors to operate business smoothly.

“We are grateful to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina who began promoting hi-tech industries 10 years back. The private sector investment in hi-tech parks will reach Tk 25 billion in the next one year,” Bikarna Kumar Ghosh, additional secretary at ICT Division, told the Daily Sun.

The hi-tech park boss also informed that the number of hi-tech parks and incubation centre will stand at 104 by 2031 to support the national journey towards a developed country.

Sheikh Kamal IT Training and Incubation Centers will be established in all 64 districts of the country to develop skilled workforces to meet the future demand, according to the officials.

The government introduced the public-private partnership model first in hi-tech parks as local tech conglomerate Summit and [email protected] invested as a developer in Bangabandhu Hi-tech City in Gazipur.

Summit Technopolis managing director Abu Reza Khan said the tax holiday and duty-free export facilities attracted the company to invest in the hi-tech park.

“The bonded warehouse facilities and tax waiver for importing capital machinery are also attractive offers to the investors. However, the NBR should reform the regulation of the renewal of tax exemption certificate every year to boost investment,” Abu Reza Khan, who served BEPZA for 25 years, told the Daily Sun.

To foster local and foreign investment, the government provides 12 types of incentives to the investors while the businesses get 40 facilities at one-stop service (OSS) platform of BHTPA. One of the most attractive incentives is income tax waiver for 12 years for developers and 10 years for investors.

“The facilities including tax incentive, bondage warehouse facilities attracted the investors to the technology sector in Bangladesh. Over the last few years, the investment scenario has changed due to policy support from the government,” Sumon Ahmed Sabir, chief technology officer of [email protected], one of the investors in the hi-tech park, told the Daily Sun.

He projected that the hi-tech parks will change the landscape of Bangladesh economy in the line with a $5 billion export target by the next five years. 

Barendra Silicon City in Rajshahi and Sylhet Electronic City in Companiganj are focusing on manufacturing of hardware electronics outside the capital Dhaka.

Besides, BHTPA authorities allocated plots to foreign and local software firms in Sheikh Hasina Software Technology Park in Jashore and Janata Hi-tech Park in Dhaka.

Korean smartphone brand Samsung, local firms Summit Technopolis, Walton, Chinese state-run organisation SinoPharm and Oryx are among the leading companies who got allocation of space.

Oryx Biotech recently announced an investment of $300 million to establish a plant at Bangabandhu Hi-Tech City.

The firm will establish a plant at Hi-Tech City to reach annual production of 1,200 tonnes of plasma which will be used in medicines for many deadly diseases.