A country Report by Bangladesh Association of Software and Information Service Software Companies in Bangladesh
Bangladesh – the verdant delta plain around the confluence of three mighty rivers of Asia, namely, Ganges, Jamuna and Brahmaputra – is known to the world of this agriculturally abundant land is the fact that it is also home to one of the world’s biggest ready-made-garments industries and that nearly ten million of its people are college graduates. This vast pool of educated workforce, all of whom can read write and understand spoken English is shaping a new industry in Bangladesh i.e. the information technology industry. Use of computers in Bangladesh as a research and data manipulation tool dates back more than 30 years. Today computers are widely used in offices, businesses, educational institutions, at home and in the filed. In one of the most progressive policy orientation towards IT of any nation on earth today, Bangladesh allows 100% duty-and-tax-free import of all computer hardware and software. The state provides many other fiscal and infra-structural facilities to accelerate the use of computers and the growth of the IT industry.
The IT industry is represented by two industry bodies, namely Bangladesh Association of Software and Information Services (BASIS) and Bangladesh Computer Samity (BCS). BASIS, established in 1998, is a relatively new industry association whose membership count stands at 34 today and is growing steadily. All major software development and data processing firms of the country are its members. BCS on the other hand was formed in 1988 and represents computer business firms in general; its membership stands at more than 100 today. All major hardware and software manufacturers such as Acer, Compaq, Dell, Digital, HP, IBM, ICL-Fujitsu, Microsoft, Novell, Oracle, SCO, Sun Microsystems, Unisys and others are represented for long in Bangladesh.
The size of the IT industry is estimated at around USD 150 million which is growing at more than 20% each year. Among the major IT projects already done/undertaken in Bangladesh are:
Preparing a national voter database of 60 million people and producing computerized ID cards for each voter. The project started in 1995 and is still on going.
Implementing the computerized nationwide seat reservation and ticketing system for Bangladesh Railway. The system was completed in 1996 serves nearly one million passengers each month.
Preparing and administering the motor vehicles and drivers registration database. The nationwide system handles more than one million registrations/renewals each year. Establishing a National Data Bank. This on-going state-funded project started in 1995 plans to be the ultimate repository of all information of Bangladesh.
Establishing Bangladesh Computer Council. This state-sponsored statutory body formed in 1989, works to promote computerization in the country and provide all necessary assistance to the IT industry. It has been lately entrusted with the task of preparing a national IT policy and producing at least 10,000 IT professionals and trainers each year.
Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems. All national utility bodies (power, gas, telephony etc.) have implemented or are implementing SCADA systems over their national grid networks.
Securities exchanges automation. There are two stock exchanges in the country both of which have implemented automated securities trading systems in 1998. The Securities and Exchange Commission have undertaken the task of dematerializing securities and adopting an electronic central depository of securities within 1999.
DC10 spares inventory for Biman Bangladesh Airlines.
National pre-university examination system automation. The boards of secondary and higher secondary education process more than 30 million examination papers each year through the automated OMR based computer system.
Multimedia multilingual encyclopedia. This national projects started in 1997 when completed will have a multimedia and hard copy versions of encyclopedias in Bangla with English translation. The software and data processing industry in Bangladesh has had a successful track record of exporting to the USA and Europe for more than a decade now. The areas of competency of the IT industry in Bangladesh are as follows:
Web-page design and web-enable software development
Multi-media design and publishing
Alphanumeric data processing (from paper documents, scanned images and verbal recordings)
Relational database applications development. Front-end tools used are Visual BASIC, Developer 2000, Power Builder, Access, FoxPro and others. Back-end systems used are Oracle, Informix, Sybase, DB2 and others.
Device drivers for UNIX, Windows NT and Windows 95/98.
Y2K related database and program modification work.
Euro-money related database and program modification work.
Human resources for the IT industry have been growing rapidly since the govt. declared this industry as a thrust sector and has embarked on a mission to make the industry a substantial part of the USD 36 Billion economy. The vital statistics for this sector are : More than 300,000 IT professionals are engaged in the industry.
26 universities offer undergraduate and graduate degrees in computer science and engineering.
More than 1000 private and public sector computer-training institutes offer IT skill development of various levels.
True to its commitments, the govt. has cut through a lot of red tape to ensure the right kind of environment for IT entrepreneurs to thrive in this country. The incentives and infra-structural facilities made available for the IT industry are:
Up to 2Mbps-telecom link with North America
Full exemption from income tax
State-sponsored "IT village" which offer high-tech offices ready for rental by software companies at preferential rates
Working capital loan from banks at preferential interest rates and with no collateral requirement
Absolutely duty and tax free import of computer hardware and software
Bangladesh Association of Software & Information Services (BASIS)