Software export growth up 54pc
Bangladesh's software exports in the first 10 months of fiscal 2011-12 stood at $56.7 million, a 54 percent rise from the same period of the previous fiscal year.
Going by the trend, Bangladesh Association of Software and Information Services (BASIS), the country's IT trade body, expects the exports of IT and IT-enabled services (ITES) to hit the $70 million-mark for fiscal 2011-12, said AKM Fahim Mashroor, president of BASIS.
But the actual amount could be upwards of $100 million, he said, if all the ITES exports and exports by the 15,000-odd freelancers are taken into account.
At present a number of ITES exports remain unrecorded, due to problems with the coding system of the Bangladesh Bank, along with the exports of freelancers who earn around $25 million.
â€œFreelancers' earnings are recorded as remittance, not software export,â€ said Mashroor, adding that it is possible to hit the $1 billion mark by 2015 and create employment for 100,000-odd graduates if proper support is given to the sector.
Bangladesh essentially gets small- or mid-level commissions which are not of much interest to the neighbouring countries, said Russell T Ahmed, BASIS's secretary general.
"But we are doing excellently, delivering the best-quality work and on time. Progressively people are relying on us.â€
"We are following the 'search engine optimisation' model so that big companies in the west can find our work through web surfing. It is helping us getting more work," said Tamzid Siddiq Spondon, managing director at Zanala Bangladesh.
But the industry is facing a number of challenges, dearth of skilled human resources and project management skill being just two of them, according to Ahmed.
BASIS, however, is working on the problem: the body provides training to IT professionals at the BASIS Institute of Technology Management and has started a campaign to inspire youngsters to become IT professionals.
Although the country's IT sector has made a name for itself in the global stage due to its own merit, he still asked the government to further promote the sector.
â€œLack of infrastructure remains another big challenge for the industry. The internet bandwidth price remains very high, the alternative of sub-marine cable is yet to materialize, and there is no software technology park in the country,â€ Mashroor said.
There are over 800 registered software and ITES companies in Bangladesh, as per BASIS's Software and IT Service Catalogue 2011.
Bangladeshi organisations export a range of software, starting from accounting and finance, content and document management, marketing and sales automation to animation, multimedia and graphics.