Bangladesh NEXT: a new brand to project our IT industry

Maswood Alam Khan
Export from Bangladesh on computer related services in the last financial year was more than US$ 35 million and the target for the current year has been set at a little more than US$ 37 million. In July-August, 2009 Bangladesh had earned US$ 2.18 million and in July-August 2010 we have earned US$ 2.48 million. The trend of export of IT products and solutions from Bangladesh is upward but not quite satisfactory compared to what other emerging countries in Asia are performing in this field. Whereas accounts of Bangladesh IT industry are still in the million figures India is already in the billion. IT exports from India in business process outsourcing (BPO) services alone attained revenues of US$ 48 billion in FY 2008-09.

The success of IT industry in neighboring India has of course sent a ripple of enthusiasm through Bangladesh. Not only our entrepreneurs have set up hundreds of IT industries to meet domestic needs and export IT solutions, many individuals—especially new graduates from technical institutions and even students of engineering colleges and universities—have been engaged in self-employments earning spectacular financial gains by designing software, graphics, websites and by processing data for both local and overseas markets. The information technology industry in Bangladesh now accounts for more than US$ 350 million in annual revenues.

Bangladesh Association of Software and Information Services (BASIS), an association for Software & IT companies, is a pioneer in creating awareness of the importance of IT industry in Bangladesh considering potential of a huge educated youth force in our country. More than 60 percent of about 156 million people of Bangladesh are in the age group of 15 to 64 years—a huge demographic strength that can be engaged in knowledge-based business. And in today’s world IT has opened windows for earnings from the comfort of offices or homes for those who know a little bit of English and are capable of using computers.

BASIS has developed a brand with a unique title “Bangladesh NEXT” to project Bangladesh IT industry in the global market. “Bangladesh NEXT” brand will formally be launched through a function on Saturday, the 2nd October 2010 at 11:00 am at Media Bazaar, BICC, Agargaon in Dhaka where Trade and Commerce Minister Lt. Col. Muhammad Faruk Khan (Retired) is expected to be present as Chief Guest. The formal announcement of upcoming US-Bangladesh Technology Summit to be held on October 13, 2010 at NY will also be made in this occasion.

There was a time when in our country we were content with using personal computers for only office works as substitutes for typewriters. One who could use Microsoft Word for writing letters and send emails through Outlook Express was deemed a computer savvy person. But during the last two decades there has been a dramatic change in Information Technology in our country. Today there are more than 330 software and IT firms registered as members of the Bangladesh Association of Software and Information Services (BASIS) alone and there are thousands of individuals who are either self-employed or work in companies which are yet to be registered with any association.

Thanks to British colonial legacy and traditional emphasis put by guardians upon the young students on the importance of learning English, one of our advantages in IT business over other countries is our youth’s reasonable knowledge in English compared to those in countries like China where people are not quite proficient in English, a predominant language one must know to learn IT. Our literacy rate and the standard of our secondary education have also improved significantly. Hence, our potential for knowledge-based skills should also be there and industries based on intellectual capability should be established in this age of information technology.

Millions of workers engaged in industries like garments would be trapped in quagmires if for any reason this physical-labor-intensive industry fails in our country for shift of their markets to other regions or for any technological innovation like robotics that may obviate the necessity of human hands in cutting clothes or sewing apparels or doing any job by physical labor. There is therefore an urgent need for our young generation to shift their focus from the skill-based physical-labor-intensive jobs to knowledge-based intellectual-labor-intensive jobs.

BASIS has rightly taken the initiative to introduce the new brand “Bangladesh NEXT” to create in our country an attractive hub of incubators and technology parks equipped with all the state-of-the-art facilities where overseas companies may feel tempted to open their shops and offices, where our young boys and girls can show their inbuilt talents.

Efforts through such branding to create IT awareness in our society about the importance of making the country more IT-enabled with a view to projecting abroad an image of IT-friendly environment in Bangladesh can help us mimic what countries like India has performed in this sector and build a better future of the nation.

Organized by BASIS in collaboration with Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) and Outsource World the “US-Bangladesh Technology Summit” due to be held on 13 October 2010 at Marriott Marquis at Times Square in New York City, USA where Finance Minster Dr. Abul Maal Abdul Muhith is expected to attend as chief guest is another initiative that is going to showcase Bangladesh as the next attractive destination for outsourcing IT solutions. The function is going to be organized alongside Global Sourcing Forum, which is the largest technology conference and exhibition held in New York every year.

We hope Bangladesh will soon replicate India in turning our fledgling IT businesses into a robust industry that will usher in fresh opportunities for our future generations to show their intellectual capability. Bangladesh of course has already shown to the world community its citizens’ capacity in both physical and intellectual domains. Given an opportunity, Bangladeshis can learn any knowledge and Bangladeshis can adapt with any environment. Bangladeshis have already proven their superiority in many innovations in science, arts, economics and adventures.

Maswood Alam Khan
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