The Bangladesh Association of Software and Information Services (BASIS) has identified seven key focus areas, including the development of quality human resources and local markets and creating a thriving ecosystem for startups, for further development of the ICT sector.
The top ICT trade body is also devising a strategy to attain the government’s annual export target of $5 billion by 2025, promote the ICT industry, ensure access to finance for entrepreneurs, and formulate policies to help grow
“The BASIS is moving forward identifying seven pillars. The most important pillars or issues are human resources development, industry promotion and public-private partnership,” said BASIS President Russell T Ahmed.
He was addressing an event titled “SMART Bangladesh: Role of ICT Industry” at the Radisson hotel in Dhaka on Sunday.
The BASIS organised the programme to highlight the contribution of the software and ITES sector to the national development of Bangladesh. The event also sought to identify challenges necessitating policy support soon.
“In order to develop skilled human resources, we have taken initiatives to transform the BASIS Institute of Technology & Management into a university,” Ahmed said.
“If we can do that then it will be possible to create qualified workforce for the IT sector.”
The BASIS also wants to set up an integrated research and development wing with government support for the industry’s promotion. Besides, a roadmap is essential for public-private partnerships, he said.
The BASIS president called for cooperation from all spheres of the government, including the ICT Division and the Posts and Telecommunications Division, in this regard.
“When we talk to tech firms, they say they are facing a manpower crunch. And when we talk to the academia, they say their graduates are not finding jobs,” said BASIS Executive Director Abu Issa Mohammad Mainuddin.
“The BASIS is now working on bridging the gap between the industry and academia.”
The ICT sector’s annual export earnings now stand at $1.4 billion and the BASIS is working to increase it significantly in the coming years.
“We have received a key performance indicator and that sets a target of making $5 billion ICT exports by 2025 and $10 billion by 2031,” Mainuddin said.
According to him, many entrepreneurs do not have access to nance while bank loan application processes is too complex and time-consuming.
“By 2021, we have not only implemented Digital Bangladesh successfully but also been able to set some examples for others to follow,” said Mustafa Jabbar, the posts, telecommunications and information technology minister.
“We have taken initiatives to implement SMART Bangladesh. Now, we need to manage robots, create artificial intelligence and manage hardware to implement all of these. We need to adapt to new technologies.”
The minister said software export is not the only targeted market for Bangladesh. Rather, the country wants to cater to all kinds of digital activities.
“So, all of our ICT trade bodies have to work together. The government will be there to support the ICT sector from all dimensions.”
The IT sector needs to work towards a target of $200 billion, not just $5 billion, as the country has every single opportunity to achieve this goal, said Nasrul Hamid, state minister for power, energy and mineral resources.
“We will try to convince the prime minister, the ICT affairs adviser to the prime minister and the finance minister so that the tax holiday facility, the export subsidy and the import duty waiver for the sector can continue till 2030,”
said Zunaid Ahmed Palak, state minister for ICT.
In response to the BASIS president’s demands, he assured of cooperation in establishing a meaningful research and development wing.
Automation accounts for only 7 per cent of the garment industry, according to Rubana Huq, a former president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association and vice-chancellor of the Asian University for Women.
“By 2030, it would rise to 30 per cent. We need to do this automation carefully so that the employment growth is not hurt,” she said.
“Bangladesh needs a smart production system and the IT sector could enable this through new innovations.”
– With The Daily Star input