Published:  12:00 AM, 09 June 2016

Exploiting potentials of the ICT sector

The Information and Communication Technology (ICT) industry is a relatively new sector in our economy. But it is a highly prospective one. In a study among Asian countries by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in 2007-08, Bangladesh was ranked first in software and ICT services 'competitiveness'. The World Bank, in a study conducted in 2008, projected triple digit growth for Bangladesh in ICT services and software exports. Bangladesh was also listed as one of the top 30 Countries for offshore services in 2010-2011 by Gartner. The Internet penetration in the country has grown to 21.27 percent in 2012, up from 3.2 percent only three years before. The penetration has only grown a lot further in the last four years. As the Internet usage increases, the government expects the ICT sector to add 7.28 percent to GDP growth by 2021.

  It is apparent that Bangladesh is headed to fast become a major provider of ICT related products and services beyond its borders in the short rather than the long term. Of course, the potentials are there. Our human resources in the ICT sector are producing software for the domestic as well as foreign markets. In data entry and data processing also considerable advances are noted in sharp contrast to yesteryears.  Increasingly, the country's English knowing young people are earning from home bases through engagement in various outsourcing activities.  Yet it cannot be said that Bangladesh has tapped even one fourth of its potentials in these fields. A bright ICT future for Bangladesh is ahead. But the same needs exploration and exploitation with planned moves and real zest.
The launching of an ICT park where local and foreign investors would be able to invest for producing and marketing ICT products and services on a large scale was contemplated at least a decade ago. The site was selected and land acquired for the purpose. But work on the development of this ICT park at Kaliakoir, Gazipur has been crawling on for years when its fastest completion and operationalization could be a major milestone in taking ourselves closer to realizing ICT related dreams. The same kind of lackadaisical attitude is noted in setting up the other ICT park at Jessore. Facilities for higher education in ICT are there in Bangladesh to create programmers, engineers and other professionals. According to credible reports the posts of about 160,000 programmers in Europe and another 150, 000 in USA on average remain vacant annually. With good planning backed up by much expanding the scope for ICT related higher education and training in the country, this lucrative market for  export of our manpower can be tapped  sooner than later. In sum, we can say that significant advances have been made in ICT sector for domestic applications. But the same cannot be said about harnessing its export prospects.

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