Bangladesh: an emerging hub for IT outsourcing
-brings online editions of various
foreign newspapers, periodicals and journals
With improving literacy rate as well as the standard of education tending shift from physical-labour-intensive occupations to knowledge-based intellectual-labour-intensive jobs, registering around $ 350 million annual revenue from the information technology industry, existing over 330 software and IT firms, witnessing supportive government policies and collective endeavours to strengthen their position in global market under the aegis of Bangladesh Association of Software and Information Services (BASIS), Bangldesh is effectively emerging as a hub for IT outsourcing in South Asia. Here is a brief.
SK Khurana, editor, All About Newspapers with team Bangladesha at IFRA Expo 2010 in Hamburg.
pf course, encouraged with ripple of enthusiasm created by the success of information technology (IT) industry in India, the neighbouring country Bangladesh is transforming into ‘digital Bangladesh’. During the last two decades, there has been a remarkable change in IT sector in the 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. Not only Bangladeshi entrepreneurs have set up hundreds of IT establishments to meet domestic needs along with exporting IT solutions, but also thousands of individuals - especially new graduates from technical institutions and even students of engineering colleges and universities - have been engaged in ‘self-employment’ concept earning spectacular financial gains by designing software, graphics, websites and by processing data for both local and overseas markets. Online editions of various foreign newspapers, periodicals and journals and even 3-dimensional movies of reputed international companies are also being designed by experienced IT professionals in the country.
This South Asian nation bordered by Indian territory on all sides except for a small border with Myanmar to the far southeast and by the Bay of Bengal to the south also has a huge demographic strength that can be engaged in knowledge-based business: more than sixty percent of about 156 million people of Bangladesh are in the age group of 15 to 64 years. In this scenario, the information technology industry in the country now accounts for more than $ 350 million in annual revenues. Its export of computer-related services in the last financial year was more than $ 35 million and the target for the current year has been set at a little over than $ 37 million; in July-August 2009, the country earned $ 2.18 million, while in July-August 2010, its earning was $ 2.48 million.
However, the trend of export of IT products and solutions from Bangladesh is upward but not quite satisfactory compared to other emerging countries in Asia. Whereas accounts of revenues of Bangladeshi IT industry are still expressed in the million-dollar figures, India marks it in the billion figures. IT exports from India in business process outsourcing (BPO) services alone attained revenues of around 48 billion dollar in FY 2008-09. Seeing the growth of Indian IT industry, Bangladeshi entrepreneurs with government supports are striving relentlessly to turn the country’s fledgling IT businesses into a robust industry.
In collaboration with Export Promotion Bureau, ten member companies of BASIS, who are specialized in graphics design and pre-press work for media/newspaper industry, participated in the IFRA Expo 2010 in Hamburg, Germany. Among these participants, six companies including BITS Solutions Ltd, Devnet Limited, Electronic Business Solutions Ltd (eBizzSol), ICT Alliance, Information Engineering and Consulting Bangladesh Ltd (IECB) and Zanala Bangladesh Ltd went to exhibit their products and services as exhibitors, while four others including Aprosoft Consulting Ltd, Graphic People, Mazumder IT Limited and Trade Excel Graphics Ltd as visitors.
Under the leadership of AKM Fahim Mashroor, senior vice president-BASIS, the Bangladeshi delegation to IFRA Expo introduced a unique brand - ‘Bangladesh NEXT’ - for the Europe and other parts of the world. Being a pioneer in creating awareness of the importance of IT industry in Bangladesh, BASIS developed this brand to project their IT industry in the global market, and launched it in Dhaka on October 02 just two days before the beginning of IFRA Expo 2010. BASIS has rightly taken the initiative to introduce this new brand with a view to make the country an attractive hub of incubators and technology parks equipped with all the state-of-the-art facilities where overseas companies may feel motivated to open their shops and offices providing their youths opportunities to show their talents. Efforts to create IT awareness through such branding will help project abroad an image of IT-friendly environment in the country.
Formed in 1997, BASIS is the national association for software and IT enabled services companies of Bangladesh, working with a vision of developing vibrant local software & IT service industry in the country. Presently representing over 250 members, BASIS endeavours to pursue various broad goals through its regular programmes and activities, including: domestic market development by creating awareness, helping the local software and ITES companies penetrate the international market, capacity building of the member firms and persuasion for business friendly government policies for the industry. With regard to export market development, BASIS regularly takes initiatives for creating exposure for member companies to international markets with the help of different government and development agencies working in the export development area. Such initiatives include - arranging participation at international IT fairs & marketing missions, business linkage programmes for outsourcing, B2B trade platform, etc. Recently the first US-Bangladesh Technology Summit was organized in New York by BASIS, in partnership with US Bangladesh Technology Partners and Export Promotion Bureau. A number of US business chambers including Greater New York Chamber of Commerce, US Pan Asian American Chamber of Commerce, US Bangladesh Technology Association (USBDTA) and Network of Young Bangladeshi American Professionals (NYBAP) supported this summit with over 200 senior level participants from both USA and Bangladesh, including over thirty representatives from twenty BASIS member companies.
Recognising the government support giving strength and opportunity to grow, the software and IT services have been declared by the Government as a ‘high priority’ export sector. All software and IT services companies including those having foreign ownerships have been exempted from income tax until 2011. Special government sponsored long-term equity fund and short term working capital financing are offered to IT companies. Since 1996, Government has also been allowing zero/low tariff for computers and other capital goods required for software industry. Special hi-tech and software technology parks are being built by the government to facilitate all the infrastructural supports needed by outsourcing companies. ICT Policy 2009 has been approved by the Govt of Bangladesh in June 2009 and a roadmap to transform Bangldesh into ‘Digital Bangldesh’ has also been formed.
Ultimately, this neighbouring nation, which was part of British India prior to partition in 1947 and that of Pakistan up to independence in 1971, is now on remarkable growth drive to be a huge IT outsourcing hub in South Asia, following India.