Monthly Archives: April 2009

Bashundhara Group to set up Tk 25b integrated steel plant

Bashundhara Group to set up Tk 25b integrated steel plant

Jasim Uddin Haroon

A local company Tuesday disclosed that it will set up the country’s first ever integrated steel plant at a cost of around Tk 25 billion to cater to the domestic demand for steel products.

The Bashundhara Group said it will produce steel products from the proposed integrated plant by using the basic raw material- iron ore.

Currently, over 200 re-rolling and steel mills in the country are producing steel products by using imported and locally available ship scraps. Only a few steel factories use imported billet to produce high quality mild steel rod.

“We have taken up the project of an integrated steel plant as the steel products produced in it would be cheaper and of international standard,” Serazul Islam, chief coordinator of Bashundhara Basic Integrated Steels said.

He also said the proposed plant will produce initially 1.0 million tonnes of steel products a year with an option of future expansion.

Bashudhara officials said they will start the civil works for the plant shortly at Anowara in Chittagong. The plant will be set on 300 acres of lands.

The project coordinator said Bashundhara will seek international financing for the project besides local commercial banks.

Bashundhara officials said they will produce different kinds of steel products to be used in structural engineering applications, maritime purposes, automobiles and general industrial purposes.

Md Jahangir Alam, a tremor expert, told the FE: “The quality of steel depends on its raw materials. Steels produced by iron ores are much more qualitative than the other steel products.”

“The demand for steel product produced from ores is rising in rich nations. Even, neighbouring India is also using this kind of steel,” Jahangir added.

Bangladesh’s steel market is estimated to be about 2.0 million tonnes a year.


Local shipbuilders get orders from Finish company

Local shipbuilders get orders from Finish company

BSS, Chittagong

Bangladesh’s much potential shipbuilding sector is going to usher another milestone through constructing international standard specialized vessels for foreign buyers.

Western Marine Shipyard Ltd (WMSL), the country’s pioneering company in shipbuilding sector, got the order to build a “Floating reception vessel” and a “Pontoon barge gangway with foundation” for LAMOR Corporation AB, a Finland-based internationally reputed company in oil spill response and consultancy services.

After building the vessel, the LAMOR will hand over it to Chittagong Port Authority (CPA) by November next.

As per an agreement singed between the CPA and the LAMOR, the company would supply to the CPA a specialized vessel along with necessary equipment for addressing oily waste pollution in the port jurisdiction that includes up to 50 nautical miles in outer anchorage of the Bay of Bengal from shore.

Officials of the WMSL and the CPA yesterday disclosed the news of landmark progress of the country’s shipbuilding sector at a function held in the city’s Agrabad commercial area.

Earlier, Bangladeshi shipbuilding enterprises got orders and exported only medium and big-size cargo and cruise ships to foreign buyers of the developed countries of Europe and Asia.

The WMSL arranged the function titled “keel-laying ceremony” that marks formal construction work of a vessel through hitting the hammers twice simultaneously by the officials concerned on a makeshift iron-plate that symbolises the deck-structure of the ship.

WMSL is the first Bangladeshi company in the sector which has earned reputation by receiving export orders to supply ocean- going advanced technology big ships for foreign parties from Denmark, Holland, Germany and Singapore.

CPA Chairman Commodore R U Ahmed spoke at the function as the chief guest while Chairman of the WMSL Saiful Islam and Managing Director Sakhawat Hossain, among others, also addressed it. CPA officials, bankers, representatives from local and international shipping firms were present. The CPA chairman said availability of services in protecting marine environment from oil pollution by engaging such specialised vessel was a commitment of the CPA for fulfilling the International Maritime Organization (IMO) requirement.

He said environment protection facility would surely place Chittagong Port among the major safe international seaports in the region.

CPA and WMSL officials informed that the vessel would be capable of collecting operational and oily waste from ocean-going ships in the CPA limit.

The vessel will be designed to work under tropical conditions at high seas and shallow waters and fitted with fire fighting equipment sufficient to fight her internal and surrounding oil spilled areas.

Sakhawat Hossain of WMSL urged the government to ensure duty- free bond facilities and issuance of bank guarantee by Bangladesh Bank as first class international bank, and to fix ‘single digit’ interest rate of bank loans and special financial allocation for further flourishing the shipbuilding sector.

The CPA chairman told BSS procurement of such specialised vessel and construction of other necessary facilities at shore and harbour to address both oily and solid waste under the port jurisdiction was part of an Asian Development Bank-financed scheme titled “Chittagong Port Trade Facilitation Project”.

He said CPA has signed an agreement with a Turkish company to supply a modern “solid waste collection vessel” at a cost of around Taka 13 crore. The ship will be available by 2010.

CPA, he said, has already built a ground oily waste treatment facility at right bank of the river Karnaphuli adjacent to Chittgaong Dry Dock where collected waste oil will be treated and disposed of.

Pharma sector assured of help

Pharma sector assured of help
Star Business Report

Health Minister AFM Ruhul Haque said yesterday the government will provide every possible policy support to the evolving pharmaceutical sector.

The minister said this while talking to the leaders of Bangladesh Association of Pharmaceutical Industries (BAPI) at the ministry.

The BAPI leaders discussed with the minister about establishing an international standard drug testing laboratory and a pharmaceutical ingredients’ industrial park.

They also urged the minister to increase manpower of Drug Administration Department (DAD) and upgrade it to a directorate.

They said the Bangladeshi pharmaceuticals are entering the restricted European market and for that the quality control of the medicines should meet international standards.

The minister told them that the government is considering establishing a global standard drug testing laboratory and reconstituting the DAD.

Secretary to the ministry Sheikh Altaf Ali, Director General of DAD Brig Gen Md Ismail Hossain, BAPI President Salman F Rahman, Senior Vice President Momenul Haque, and Vice President Tarikul Islam were present at the meeting.

Japan to invest $7.021m in CEPZ

Japan to invest $7.021m in CEPZ

DHAKA, Bangladesh, April 26 (BSS) – M/s Meiji Corporation Limited, a Japanese company, will set up a motor parts manufacturing industry in Chittagong Export Processing Zone (CEPZ).

This hundred percent foreign owned company will invest 7.021 million US Dollar in setting up their unit and will produce and export motor parts.

The company will also create employment opportunity for 259 people, including two foreign nationals, said BEPZA press release.

An agreement to this effect has been signed between the Bangladesh Export Processing Zones Authority (BEPZA) and the M/s Meiji Corporation Limited in BEPZA Complex here today.

Prasanta Bhushan Barua, Member (Investment Promotion) of BEPZA and Yoshiyasu Mitsumura, Executive President of M/s Meiji Corporation Limited signed the agreement on behalf of their respective organization.

Other officials from the respective organizations were present on the occasion, the release added.

IDCOL plans to produce solar panels

IDCOL plans to produce solar panels

UNB, Dhaka

Infrastructure Development Company Limited (IDCOL), a non-bank financial institution, is planning to produce solar panels locally in an effort to bring the country’s rural areas under power supply network in a faster way.

“We’ve planned to produce solar panel to make it cheaper as well as expand our service areas in line with the government vision of ‘Electricity for all by 2020’,” IDCOL’s newly appointed Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Executive Director Islam Sharif told UNB.

IDCOL now imports solar panels from various countries, including China and India, which is costlier for local users. “But, if we can produce the solar panel locally it would be cheaper for the villagers to use it as an individual power system,” Sharif said.

Sharif, who served as Vice-president of Citibank NA in New York, suggested that the government should go for a comprehensive campaign to encourage people to use solar energy as the national power grid is unable to cope with the growing power demand.

“We also encourage the businessmen to install solar energy system in their industries and we’re ready to assist them (businessmen) in this regard,” he said.

Sharif said the country’s most development plans focus on the capital or metro cities. “But,” he said, “IDCOL turns its focus on urban, suburb and rural areas.”

The IDCOL boss said they also have a plan for setting up their own power plants in different regions of the country where poor road communications hamper local trades.

About IDCOL activities, Sharif said IDCOL promotes solar home systems (SHSs) in rural areas under a programme jointly being financed by IDA, Global Environment Facility (GEF) and KfW & GTZ.

IDCOL has made an upward revision in its target of financing 300,000 SHSs by 2009 as over 295,000 SHSs have already been installed.

The IDCOL CEO said the programme is being implemented through 15 partner organizations (POs) — Grameen Shakti, BRAC Foundation, Srizony Bangladesh, COAST Trust, TMSS, IDF, CMES, Upokulio Bidyuatayon O Mohila Unnayan Shamity (UBOMUS), Shubashati, BRIDGE, Padakshep Manabik Unnayan Kendra (PMUK), Palli Daridra Bimochan Foundation (PDBF), Hilful Fuzul Samaj Kalyan Sangstha, Mukti Cox’s Bazar, and Rural Services Foundation (RSF).

SHSs are sold (mostly through micro-credit) by POs to the households and business entities in remote rural areas of Bangladesh, Sharif said, adding that IDCOL provides refinancing facility to the POs and channel grants to reduce the SHS costs as well as support the institutional development of the POs. “IDCOL also provides technical, logistic, promotional and training assistance to the Pos.”

About cheaper biogas plants, Sharif said those plants consume huge time and space to produce energy, but solar energy takes only 1-2 hours for power generation and only the rooftop of any house for installation.

“Even then, IDCOL is also involved in the promotion of biogas plants across Bangladesh.”

Since June 2006, he said, they have set up over 7,000 biogas plants in rural areas through its partner prganizations under the National Domestic Biogas and Manure Programme (NDBMP). It has a target of financing 60,000 such plants by 2010. So far, 2400 biogas plants have been set up.

Gas produced through these plants is used for cooking and lighting of rural households. The slurry of biogas plants, being a very good organic fertilizer, is used to maintain soil fertility and increase crop production apart from being fish feed.

Scholastica students build low-cost car for Science Fair

Scholastica students build low-cost car for Science Fair
Economic Reporter

A few creative students of Class IX have successfully built a cheap car, which they believe will cut down environmental pollution because it runs on batteries, and will also allow more people to have access to cars because of the low price.

The Science Fair 2009 was held recently at Scholastica Senior Section Uttara amid enthusiasm of young scientists displaying various innovative projects. Wasima Parveen. Deputy Chairperson, and Madiha Murshed, Head of Academics, were among the judges who assessed all the projects at the fair.

Some of the outstanding projects of the Science Fair were on heart disease and fermentation, the pangea, the star chart and solar system, and double circulation. Students were looking for problems to local solutions as well, such as flooding, load shedding and global warming.

The Science Fair was a platform for students to develop both their research and creative skills and the event was greatly enjoyed by the students, parents and management of the school.

Bangladesh-US venture to build country’s first solar panel plant

Bangladesh-US venture to build country’s first solar panel plant

Mushir Ahmed

A local company has struck a joint venture deal with an expatriate Bangladeshi to set up the country’s first solar panel plant to provide a backbone for the fast-growing renewable energy sector.

Star Group, a power plant engineering company, said it has already bought land for the Aakash Solar Company and also is talking with American and Swiss companies to launch the plant later this year.

“We have readied a plan to invest more than $100 million to manufacture solar panels by 2011,” Ali Akbar Khan, the managing director of the group, said.

Star said it would initially assemble photo-voltaic panels and then gradually build manufacturing facilities over the next two years to cash in on rapid growth in the solar power system in Bangladesh.

Dr. Saifur Rahman, a Bangladesh-born American citizen, and Star would hold the majority stake in the company while Swiss and American technological partners would hold the rest.

“Our plant would meet the entire local demand and can also export sizeable amount of panels to countries in the region,” he said.

Khan said the plant would bring down costs of panels for the charities who have been importing solar panels at a subsidised prices from Japan.

“Tokyo has said it would cut the facility by end of 2009. But we are confident we can keep the prices lower than the subsidised prices being offered by Japan.”

Experts said the venture would plug the lone gap in the country’s fast growing solar energy sector.

Bangladesh is self-reliant in all the accessories in solar housing systems including batteries and wires except solar panels that convert sunlight into electricity.

The move to build the plant comes as solar power makes inroads in a vast swathe of rural areas left untouched by the national electricity grid.

The number of solar powered households have reached around 300,000, almost double in 18 months, making it one of the fastest growing sectors in Bangladesh.

Backed by soft-loan refinancing schemes by IDCOL, Grameen Shakti (GS) and other charities have lighted up homes and shops for around two million people.

The companies have also unveiled an ambitious plan to sell at least one million solar systems by 2012.

Niaz Rahim, the managing director Rahimafrooz, which sells batteries to the charities, says the plant would speed up growth of solar systems in the country.

“It’s an important move and has been a necessity for powering the growth of the renewable energy,” he said, referring to Star group’s move.

He said Rahimafrooz is also purusing its own plan to build a photo-voltaic panel factory, as he sees Bangladesh emerging as a top solar-powered nation within years.

“Solar power systems are changing the face of rural Bangladesh. And it would be a billion dollar industry within a few years,” he said.