Bangladesh 2nd largest supplier of online workforce

Staff Correspondent

6 July, 2021 12:00 AM printer

Bangladesh is now the world’s second-largest supplier of online labour force after India and makes up 16 per cent of the global digital workforce, according to a new study.

Currently, there are 2,000 website-based entrepreneurs and up to 50,000 Facebook-centric entrepreneurs in Bangladesh, according to a study unveiled by the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) on Monday.

Rapid growth in internet connectivity as well as some supporting measures for digital entrepreneurs over the last couple of years has helped Bangladesh achieve success.

“Fourth industrial revolution is going to change our pattern of living. It will impact from two sides—many will lose jobs while it will create many new job opportunities,” CPD Executive Director Dr Fahmida Khatun said. 

The Covid-19 pandemic has also expanded employment opportunities in the e-commerce industry. Some 100,000 jobs have been created in the sector during the pandemic, CPD said.

Moreover, around 500,000 jobs are likely to be created through digital platforms in the next one year, finds the study titled: ‘Digital Platform Economy in Bangladesh Opportunities and Challenges.’

The study was carried out as part of the “Future of Work in Bangladesh” project supported by Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES), Bangladesh.

Digital matching, low entry cost, ex-post screening, non-exclusive and short-run contacts and direct cash transactions are the common features of digital platforms in Bangladesh, CPD researchers Syed Yusuf Saadat said while presenting the study highlights.

Recently, the number of online workers from Bangladesh has increased in creative and multimedia platforms.

The ride-sharing business in Bangladesh has grown significantly and it has amassed $260 million to the digital platform economy with 6 million rides each month.

Citing an estimate, CPD said the size of the ride-sharing market of Dhaka city is likely to be around Tk 22 billion a year.

The market share of CNG auto-rickshaws was estimated to be 60 percent, whereas bike sharing and car-sharing services occupied 21 percent and 12 percent of the market share respectively.

Online payment is projected to reach Tk 40 billion due to the surge in online transactions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

With some 39 million people now using Facebook and increasing internet availability in the country, the study sees a huge prospect for further expansion of the digital platform economy.

But for that many digital platforms need improvements in their strategic approach and customer services to enhance their credibility and acceptability, CPD said.

A number of other things, such as ensuring the quality of the product, timely delivery of services, efficient management of the inventory, flexible return policy and overall transparency, will result in greater growth of the digital platform economy in Bangladesh.

Although lots of mobile applications are coming into the market, the policies related to the monetization of mobile applications still do not exist, according to CPD. “If the vast young population of Bangladesh could be properly trained and equipped with market-relevant skills, they could reap tremendous benefits through the digital platform economy,” Saadat said.

“The potential is immense, but the main question is where the demand coming from and whether it is widespread. If the demand remains among the upper class and upper-middle class only, its expansion will be limited,” former research director at Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS) Dr M Asaduzzaman observed.

FES Resident Representative Felix Kolbitz said well-known companies mainly belong to western countries as poor countries can not invest in research and development and technology.

He suggested focusing more on 4IR to transform Bangladesh economy from factor-driven to productivity-driven. CPD Distinguished Fellow Prof Mustafizur Rahaman moderated the online event.

Although lots of mobile applications are coming into the market, the policies related to the monetization of mobile applications still does not exist, CPD said.

A study finds a 10 per cent rise in digitisation leads to an increase in the gross domestic product (GDP) per capita by 0.50 per cent to 0.62 per cent.