A good year for IT
Mehdi Musharraf Bhuiyan
The country’s nascent IT arena was all-abuzz recently. There was news of Bangladesh finding a spot among the annual rating of the top 30 spots best places for IT outsourcing around the globe by Gartner, a leading research and consulting firm.
“Bangladesh, an emerging country from an offshore location, offers a good cost proposition, but ranks poorly in language, infrastructure and data, and intellectual property security,” Gartner said.
Sounds like a rational observation, but it was quite heartening to see that global IT giants have finally started recognising the potential of Bangladesh as the next big hub for a digital revolution.
The news caps off an eventful year, which saw some bold steps in taking IT services to the doorsteps of the common people.
“The most significant aspect of the outgoing year is that we have been able to draw the attention of Bangladeshis living aboard,” said Bangladesh Association of Software and Information Services (BASIS) President Mahboob Zaman.
“In October, the US Bangladesh Technology Conference was held in New York, where we received response from the Bangladeshi IT professionals living abroad.”
“Their global exposure, investment, and expertise is invaluable to our sector and in this regard, we have already opened an NRB cell in BASIS,” Zaman added.
Software export reaches $35 million
According to Export Promotion Bureau statistics, the country earned a total of $35.36 million from the export of software and IT enabled services in 2009-10, while the target till the end of 2010-11 is $37.48 million.
“One notable achievement is that apart from overseas export, a significant domestic market has been created for the local IT companies, thanks to the ongoing automation and digitisation drive,” the BASIS president said.
Janata Tower becomes the country’s first Software Park
The year also saw the Digital Bangladesh Taskforce, the country’s apex body for formulating ICT sector policies, sitting together for the first time in 24 months.
In a significant move, the taskforce, headed by the prime minister, decided to turn the abandoned and much talked about Janata Tower in Karwan Bazar, Dhaka, turn into the country’s first software park.
The tower was formally handed over to the science and ICT ministry and it was inaugurated in December.
The 11-storey tower is now being renovated and is expected to be ready for use by hi-tech companies in nine to twelve months.
BB softens international fee clamps for software firms
In September, the software and ITES companies were given a green light to remit up to $1,000 at a time and $10,000 a year in foreign exchange, without prior approval of the central bank.
The software exporting and outsourcing companies were also allowed to receive payments for their exports and services via internet, V-Sat or other electronic media.
All unions joined the information super highway
Taking IT services to the rural doorstep was a great challenge.
In November, a total of 4,501 Union Information Service Centres (UISCs) were launched across the country.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina formally inaugurated the service by talking to United Nations Development Programme Chief Helen Clark.
“With the opening of 4,501 UISCs, all unions of Bangladesh will be linked with the information super highway,” said Nazrul Islam Khan, national project director of A2I Programme.
USB drives, mid range PCs and dual SIM handsets, all the rage
Significant growth was seen in the sale of ultra portable equipments, such as USB flash drives, MP3 players, digital media players and memory cards. Related accessories, like card readers, USB hubs, data transfer cables and HDMI cables, also witnessed growth.