If we want to strengthen our IT sector we should motivate local IT firms to along with creating human resources and bring in policy change in protecting the firms
Md Sazedul Islam
Attaining economic development through IT
The matter of ICT cannot be overlooked as with its use, the present world has become more dynamic in every sphere of life. Our Vision 2021 is aimed at turning the country into ‘Digital Bangladesh’ to accomplish a knowledge-driven economy. The vision of Digital Bangladesh has been announced to get a suitable ICT ecosystem and attain the economic development of Bangladesh. Bangladesh has achieved a notable progress in the IT and Information Technology enabled Services (ITeS) over the last seven and half years and software development has been contributing a lot to our digital economy.
Digital Bangladesh means effective utilization of IT for developing trade and commerce, health and education, poverty eradication and creating scope for employment. One of the four basic matters of Digital Bangladesh Vision is the maximum use of IT. Digital transformation in government, education and lifestyle is needed in the country. At the same time, it is also required to increase the volume of the country’s export in the world.
We can develop our human resources through the expansion of Information and Communication Technology (ICT). We need to encourage the use of computer and ICT for achieving social and economic development. It is needed to support the attainment of overall economic development by establishing universal access to ICT for all through research, development, successful utilization and digital management of ICT.
Bangladesh recently organized the Digital World 2016, the biggest IT festival in the South Asia, in the Dhaka city. Jointly organized by ICT Division and Bangladesh Association of Software and Information Services (BASIS), the event highlighted, among others, fulfilling the export target of five billion dollar by 2021. The event was aimed at highlighting the overall scenario of Digital Bangladesh to the world.
The mega event covered the breadth of knowledge in the IT programme and highlighted the optimum use of the economic potentials of ICT. The event is considered as a huge platform to establish network with the local and international IT-ITES industry leaders and experts to share their achievements and experiences. This is a hub for the tech people around the world to come together and experience Bangladesh in a different way.
Bangladesh is advancing through software, digital service and e-commerce in the IT sector. A huge amount of our software and IT services are being exported to different countries in the world. Bangladesh remains ahead compared to others regarding many matters, including easily available human resources. Bangladesh is among the countries doing well in outsourcing.
Our target is to earn one billion dollar from IT export by 2018 while five billion dollar by 2021, according to both public and private estimates. All concerned are hopeful of fulfilling the target.
According to BASIS, the national trade body for Software and IT Enabled Service Industry in Bangladesh, ensuring the following things can help us in realizing the IT export targets:
Human resources, infrastructure, investment, internal market and incentive are needed. If we want to make our position on IT sector well in the international market, we should motivate local IT firms along with creating human resources and bring in policy change in protecting the firms.
Bangladesh’s IT firms are a facing a number of problems. We need IT export desk at our foreign missions abroad. We need to establish separate ICT export desk in the countries where we have export market to highlight our IT sector. It is aimed at increasing relations with international buyers. But our missions abroad are not aware of the matter. It is needed to fully activate the missions abroad in the interest of enhancing our IT export, said concerned sources.
Another factor is building infrastructure on an emergency basis. It is needed to speed up infrastructure development. The condition of the road where IT will run is fragile. Condition of internet in our country is not satisfactory. There is no speed of 3G internet. Price of buying internet is not logical. Hence, we could not enhance the capacity of our local users, on the other hand, we failed to expand export or ICT work outside cable internet. Though the government tried to expand cable connection, radio connection and its speed is dangerously bad.
Steps need to be taken for smooth availability of internet connection in the country. Speedy internet is needed outside Dhaka. Besides, uninterrupted power supply and easy availability of land for IT companies are important.
Adequate fund formation for investing in local IT companies is other factor we need to give emphasis. It is needed to expand the venture capital organizations along with investment of general banks for building investment in the ICT sector.
Education: There is a huge gap between education, offered by our universities, and the skill required in the sector. Training centre suitable for mid-level IT professionals is yet to be established.
Cash incentive: The government gives export subsidy/cash assistance to 20 sectors for encouraging export. If we want to reach the IT export target, it is also needed to give export subsidy to the rising ICT sector.
Space: It is needed to allocate land for free for one year at software technology park for solving investment problem of new IT companies. If land is given for free or at less price, new IT companies can contribute to the export.
Cash incentive: Participation in IT fair abroad is important to attract foreign buyers and publicize local software and ITES and its capacity. But many companies find it tough to bear huge cost involved in it. Financial support from the government can be helpful in this regard.
B2B: B2B matchmaking meeting between foreign buyers and local IT companies will help improve business. Arrangement of such meeting at home and abroad will help companies get foreign buyers and contribute to rise in export.
Internal market: We need experiences of working in own market or making foundation of success for entering export market.
Export classification, export guideline, freelancer guideline, holding seminar and workshop and export-based training to IT companies to prepare them for export are also important for promoting the export.
IT industry is more profitable and environment-friendly compared to others. If effective steps are taken, this sector can contribute 5% percent to our GDP, triggering a massive change for our economy, said the industry sources.
Mustafa Jabbar, President of BASIS, called on the government to use local software and services for all of its offices and service-related institutions. If it can be done, we can save a huge amount of our foreign currency. If united efforts are made, there is a great chance of making IT as the country’s biggest export sector along with achieving the export targets, he observed.
The writer is a freelance journalist. His e-mail contact is: email@example.com