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10 December, 2017 12:04:49 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 10 December, 2017 12:06:27 AM

Opening new IT frontier

Sharif Ahmed
Opening new IT frontier

Bangladesh is taking small but steady steps towards developing and exporting emerging technologies such as Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things (IoT) and big data despite the current emphasis on traditional technologies like Business Process Outsourcing (BPO).

With a focus on emerging technologies, the government has organised ‘Digital World 2017’, a four-day ICT event (Dec 6–9), attended by more than 200 ICT experts, analysts, and representatives from top global IT firms.

The IT expo hosted a total of 300 stalls and pavilions. Some 24 seminars and panel discussions, and an ICT Career Camp were also held with a view to connecting investors, innovators, entrepreneurs, industry leaders and the country’s IT workforce.

Skill development

Bangladesh Association of Software and Information Services (BASIS) president Mustafa Jabbar told The Independent, “Human resources are our raw material. We have already started working on subjects such as Robotics, Artificial Intelligence and Internet of Things IoT), but on a small scale.”

Jabbar said Bangladesh had started exporting IoT services to Japan and would establish ten thousand smart homes in Tokyo with the help of next generation technology Internet of Things (IoT) solutions, a milestone for the country’s IT sector.

DataSoft, a Bangladesh software company, will develop the concept and provide all the IoT solutions for the 10,000 apartments in Japan by next year, said Mahboob Zaman, managing director of DataSoft Systems, Bangladesh.

DataSoft will export and earn $8,000 from each home and will create employment for 300 IT experts at home, said DataSoft business development manager Shafiqul Islam.

“We need more skilled manpower for developing these emerging technologies,” he said.

Talking about the target of achieving an export target of $5 billion for ICT products and services by 2021, BASIS president Mustafa Jabbar said it would not be possible to reach this goal if the country lacked skilled manpower for the new technology-based businesses.

Explaining the present situation, he said, “India, Indonesia and Bangladesh have done tremendously well in traditional IT services such as data management, call centre services and Business Process Outsourcing (BPO), but we need to emphasise emerging technologies in order to achieve a $5 billion target by 2021.”

Talking about the opportunities in emerging technologies, he said, “New IT markets in countries such as Japan and Cambodia are being created for emerging technologies. So, we need to move out of traditional IT businesses and lay greater emphasis on emerging technologies.”

According to BASIS information, at present, Bangladesh exports software to 30 countries, and earned around $191 million in 2016–17.

Pointing to some of the challenges, Mustafa Jabbar said, “We don’t have sufficient educational institution or labs to teach ICT and conduct training programmes for ICT professionals and students.”

He added, “This year we are getting a 10 per cent tax incentive on the export of software products. This will certainly help achieve the target of Digital Bangladesh in Vision 2021.”

Mustafa Jabbar suggested the inclusion of computer coding in primary education, tax benefits till 2024, and infrastructure development of digital platforms.

“A skilled workforce is the raw material of this industry. So, we need to create more skilled IT professionals to increase the demand of the local market and industry,” he pointed out.

Policy Support

Talking about policy support, state minister for ICT Zunaid Ahmed Palak said, “We are providing policy support and incentives to all the stakeholders, duty waivers for parts and raw materials needed for hardware assembling and production, and creating digital infrastructure.” He also added that Bangladesh had an efficient workforce.

“Bangladesh is ready now in every aspect of the ICT-ecosystem. Through the Digital World 2017, we showcased our progress to the local and international IT giants. People came, saw and differentiated the current Bangladesh,” Palak added.

The Bangladesh Government has pledged to create ‘Digital Bangladesh by 2021’ and is using the mainstream ICTs in pro-poor programmes to eradicate poverty, establish good governance, and ensure social equity.

Among the various seminars held in Digital World, the Bangladesh Computer Council (BCC) and the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) jointly organised a seminar on ‘e-Government Master Plan for Digital Bangladesh’ at the Bangabandhu International Conference Center (BICC), Dhaka.

State minister for ICT Zunaid Ahmed Palak said the UN e-Government Survey 2016 revealed that the UK was No.1 and the Republic of Korea No. 3. According to the report, Bangladesh ranked 124th among 193 countries.

“Though it seems that Bangladesh is not in a very good position in the order, I think we are developing in this sector. To explain my stance, it would be better to provide some previous ranking of this e-Government Survey,” Palak added.

“We need a Master Plan to enhance the ICT sector and fulfil the government’s Vision 2021,” he added.

He also said that a pilot project, titled ‘Digital Municipality Services System Development’, would be implemented to 10 municipalities as one of the top priority initiatives of the ‘e-Government Master Plan’.

Palak went on to say that the pilot project includes, online water billing and holding tax service, online Councillor Certificate Service, Automated Property Management Service, and e-Trade License Service.

“We have planned to implement these services to all the 328 municipalities in the near future,” he said.


New products

Mohaimin Mostafa, an MBA from USA, participated with his new start-up, called ‘Fynetech’, for the second time in Digital World 2017. He was very optimistic about his two products—‘PAY 365’ and ‘Baajna’—which were to be launched at this event.

“PAY 365 is an app with which consumers can pay their E-commerce payment through mobile phone, and this is happening for first time in Bangladesh,” he said.

“This year, at the digital fair, we have brought ‘Pay365 Rewards Programme’ where you will be rewarded points from this app each time you visit our partner restaurant,” Mostafa informed.

“You can earn unlimited rewards from our rewards programme by visiting our partner restaurants,” he added.

DataSoft, the largest IT solution provider in Bangladesh, showcased solutions such as simulation, virtual reality, and IoT in this expo.

Talking to The Independent, Business Development Executive of DataSoft Md Jhair said “We are showcasing two things such as smart aquaculture and smart poultry by using IoT technology in this expo.”

When asked to elaborate, he said, “In smart aquaculture, you can control the water temperature, chemicals, and lights with the help of your smartphone,” he said.

e-Commerce Association of Bangladesh (e-CAB) participated in the expo as the in-charge of the e-Commerce Zone for the first time.

“We're happy that our members showcased their products and services before a large gathering. We had talked to new entrepreneurs and young people who want to come into this sector,” said Razib Ahmed.



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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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