Bangladesh has both the resources and the capability to earn as much as $5 billion by exporting information and communication technology (ICT) products and services in the next five years, experts and ICT professionals said yesterday.
Speaking at a seminar held in Dhaka, they said local ICT businesses needed support to grow and contribute to the country's economy.
Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed, who also attended the seminar, said the ICT sector in Bangladesh would get cash incentives as it is an emerging sector in the country.
The seminar, titled “The road to $5 billion ICT export by 2021,” was held on the sidelines of ICT fair Digital World 2016 at the International Convention Centre, Bashundhara.
Dr Rokonuzzaman, professor at North South University, and Avinash Vashistha, chairman of advisory firm for global outsourcing and investments Tholons Inc, were the keynote speakers at the event.
In his speech, Vashishtha said the outsourcing industry in Bangladesh was poised for significant growth over the next few years. “The country can earn $2 billion from outsourcing, $500 million from freelancing, $1 billion from startups and $2 billion from the digital sector,” he said.
Mahboob Zaman, managing director of Datasoft Systems Bangladesh Ltd and former president of Bangladesh Association of Software and Information Services (BASIS), said Bangladesh missed opportunities of exporting ICT services in business process outsourcing, telemedicine and call centre services sectors by not getting connected to the submarine cable network earlier than it did.
“It is possible to earn $5 billion by exporting ICT products within 2021. But before that we need to fix our focus: Will we follow technology trend or business trend? Also, we should not follow anyone else’s success story; rather, we should create our own,” he said.
“Japan, South Korea, Laos, Vietnam and Myanmar could be huge market for our software products. We have to formulate our marketing strategy considering that,” he added.
Tofail Ahmed said: “The problems that ICT professionals face will be resolved on a priority basis. Whatever you need, we will do. We will provide cash incentives as well for the betterment of the industry.”
Wahid Sharif, managing director of Digicon Technologies Ltd, said Bangladesh is still unable to compete with international competitors due to a lack of local incentives and policy.
Kazi Aminul Islam, executive chairman of the Bangladesh Investment Development Authority, said producing and upgrading skilled manpower is crucial for the advancement of the ICT sector in the country.
BASIS President Mustafa Jabbar said the government should procure software that the local industry can develop, instead of procuring them from abroad. “There should be a law in this regard so that local ICT industry could survive and grow.”