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14. Oktober 2008 2 14 /10 /Oktober /2008 18:21

Bangladesh is better known to the world for her natural beauty, Cox's Bazar longest unbroken sea beach, Sundarbans mangrove forest and wildlife, jute, tea, garments, handicrafts and creative hardworking human resources. Most people do not know it is also the most rapidly growing and fast expanding newest IT destination of South Asia. With more than 70 million young educated skilled populations the country is ready to work for every type of IT job of modern age.

The stronghold IT destination of Bangladesh has not come to reality in one day, rather it took decades together. Many people do not know that the first computer was used here in 1964, which in fact was the first computer of this region. That was also the beginning of code writing for programmable devices here.

However, software development and providing IT-enabled services (ITES) industry started to grow in Bangladesh in the early 1980s. The software industry is rather young compared to other industries in this country. Though most of the software companies here were established in the late 1990s or 2000s, but some of them already started their journey in the 1980s. The Bangladesh Government, in its Export and Import Policies, has formally emphasized the ICT sector including software industry and declared it as one of the ‘thrust sectors’, and thereby has strengthened footage of the software industry from the middle of 1990s taking initiatives at the state-level.

Apart from government support, the initiatives of private sector entrepreneurs under the leadership of Bangladesh Computer Samity have really propelled the software and ICT industry as a whole of Bangladesh to grow rapidly since early 1990s. Bangladesh has recently been focused by other countries as an outsourcing target. The European Union (EU) has officially announced that, Bangladesh is one of the best 20 outsourcing target countries of the world.

Current Status of Software and ITES Industry in Bangladesh

The ICT industry in Bangladesh, especially software and ITES industries, is relatively small compared to the size of its national population (140 million plus). However, the software and ITES industries in this country have started rapidly growing in recent years. The average yearly growth rate of these industries here has been over 40 per cent for recent five years, and this growth rate is expected to continue. This optimistic growth is supported by good software export trends and large demand for IT automation in domestic market. Recently in Bangladesh, large-scale automation projects have been widely implemented in the sectors of telecom, banking, finance, pharmaceutical, and garment/textile industries. Domestic demand for software and ITES industries is expected to increase more.
Presently, around 500 software and ITES companies are registered in Bangladesh. These companies employ over 12,000 ICT professionals. The size of the IT market excluding telecom in Bangladesh is estimated to be US$ 300 million in total; the software and ITES industries share US$117 million of the market.

Figure 1: Scale of IT market in Bangladesh
(US $ 300 million in total)

Export of Software and ITES from Bangladesh
Out of 500 Software and ITES companies in Bangladesh, more than 100 companies export their products to over 30 countries. ITES export of Bangladesh has been rapidly increasing. The major export market is North America, but recently many IT companies started export to EU countries and East Asian countries, especially to Japan. At least 30 companies, among 100 companies that export their products, are established through joint venture with overseas companies or as Offshore Development Centres. Most of these companies started their operations within the last two or three years, indicating that the Bangladesh software and ITES industries have started to be focused by the overseas venture capitalists.

Table 1: Value of Export of Software and ITES from
Bangladesh (Unit: Million US dollars)

Bangladesh: An Outsourcing Destination
Bangladesh has high potential to become a huge source of skilled human resources with its natural ability of cultural adoption, English language skills, analytical capability and large number of educated and energetic youths with bright aptitude, quality and building algorithms, creativity and logical ability in software development.

Though majority of the companies are exporting to North American Market (principally USA), there is encouraging performance by a good number of companies to export in European and East Asian (mainly Japanese) markets too.
To ensure quality and process control in a competitive global market, several software companies are following international standards such as ISO and CMMi. To meet the high quality standard of offshore jobs and comply with the expectation of overseas clients, the companies in Bangladesh are rightly focusing on embracing global standard practices and processes. Over 20 companies have already obtained ISO certification, and a number of companies are in the process of acquiring CMMi certification. At the end of 2008, at least six companies will be reaching CMMi Level 3.

Language of instruction in engineering, computer science and business studies at undergraduate and graduate levels is English, providing the country with a competitive edge for outsourcing software projects. This is the most deciding factor that the European Union has ranked Bangladesh as one of the top 20 outsourcing destinations in the world as said herein above.

Supply of Workforce to Software and ITES Industries in Bangladesh
Bangladesh has a population of over 140 million. The ages of population are rather younger; significant portion of the population belongs to the productive age group between 16 to 35 years. Therefore, Bangladesh has prosperous population distribution in terms of age group workforce. Similar to Indians, Bangladeshis traditionally have higher mathematical aptitude and superior logical analytical ability.

Bangladesh now confers academic degrees including postgraduate and doctoral degrees in the ICT subjects in more than 100 institutions including universities, colleges and institutes. According to the Ministry of Education, there are 73 universities in Bangladesh and more than 60 universities offer IT-related courses. These universities, colleges and institutes yearly produce more than 5,500 graduates major in IT-related fields. About 2,500 among them are students who majored in computer science or software engineering. Students of prestigious universities such as University of Dhaka and Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology are conferred with many awards every year in various international contests on computers and software.

Beside the universities, colleges and institutes, there are about 300 training/education centers that provide IT technology and technique, which contribute to develop human resources for software and ITES industries in Bangladesh. These centers supply abundant workforces to the ITES industry such as graphic design, DTP, website design, engineering drawing, website publishing and network maintenance.

Government Policies & Supports
The Bangladesh Government has taken initiatives to build an ICT-driven nation comprising a knowledge-based society. In view of this, a countrywide ICT infrastructure is being developed to ensure access to information by every citizen to facilitate empowerment of people, and enhance democratic values and norms for sustainable economic development. Information technology has become one of the thrust sectors of the government’s short and long-term planning.

Government and private sectors are increasingly going for mass automation with an aim to embrace e-Governance with its huge base of skilled ICT human resources. Cyber Law and Intellectual Property Rights Law are well-defined, up-to-date and have been formulated in the parliament to cover the non-disclosure agreement required in most outsourcing projects. Moreover, the policy makers are emphasizing on the necessity of financing software ventures by banks and other financial institutions. EEF, a unique venture capital projects finance the Software and ITES venture with interest free equity partnership. Banks also provide soft-loans for export projects.

In the recent National Export Policy (2006-09), the government has declared software as one of the six ‘high priority’ export sectors for the economy. Corporate income from software business has been kept completely tax-free till June 2008. It is assured that the tax free period will be further extended. Bangladesh Computer Samity has asked to the govt. for an extension of the period to 30 June 2018.

Govt. has already opened VoIP and is in the process of allowing WiMax for data communication. Growth of telecom sector has been extremely high and penetration of Internet has increased 5 times in last one year.

The proposed Kaliakoir Hi-Tech Park, which is envisioned as an integrated, ultra modern techno township, is situated at Gazipur, alongside the Dhaka-Tangail expressway covering an area of 232 acres. Another ICT village is being planned to be implemented at Mohakhali of the Capital City of Dhaka with the public-private partnership. More ICT villages and Special Economic Zones are also planned. One of the proposed ICT villages is to be located at Khulna, which is divisional city in the western part of the country.

Conclusion
The Government of Bangladesh is playing a dynamic role to generate routine operations, strategic planning, research and knowledge mining, regarding the growth of software and IT service industry in the country. Several pilot initiatives are being formulated and implemented under intense supervision of respective government agencies. Waiver of all taxes and duties from import of computer hardware and software increased affordability and proliferation of PC use in general. PC/Server market has seen an escalating growth rate followed by the desktop and X86 server segments in the last two years.

Joint Venture programmes and Offshore Development Centers in Bangladesh are booming at a rapid pace, as well as gaining stronger reliability from foreign partners and clients. On the other hand, the horizon of usage and demand of software in the local market is being broadened with a speedy expansion.


In spite of some barriers, the software and ITES industry in Bangladesh is rolling forward with evolving pace.

 

 

Official Name of the Country
The People's Republic of Bangladesh

Political System
Parliamentary Republic

Geographical Location
In South Asia; between 20°34' and 26°38' North latitude and between 88°01' and 92°41' East locgitude; consists of flat fertile alluvial land

Area
143,998 square km.

Population
150.45 million, 2007 estimate

Language
Bangla (Official), English

Capital City
Dhaka

Administrative Division
Dhaka, Chittagong, Rajshahi,
Khulna, Barisal, Sylhet

Local Time
GMT+6 hours

Religion
Islam, Hindu, Christan,
Buddhha & Others.

National Currency
Taka (Tk)

Independence Day
26 March

Victory Day
16 December

 


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