There is a bright prospect for Bangladesh in the software industry. By virtue of this flourishing industry, the country too is forwarding to e-commerce-based economy, keeping pace with the trends in today’s world. Thousands of unemployed youths are getting the opportunity to work both at home and abroad.
Manual Islam, 30, is one of them. After his graduation in software programming from India’s Pune University, Manual is now working as an assistant director in Development, and Research Network, a private organisation.
Nurul Absar also works in the same organisation as web application developer. “Software is now such an industry where self-employment is possible after necessary training. This is why employment is rapidly expanding in this industry,” says Absar.
According to a recent joint research by Bangladesh Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JAICA), software is a very promising export item in Bangladesh. In Bangladesh, Bangladesh Association of Software and Information Services (BASIS) is a leading IT organisation as it has been working since 1997 for its development.
About the present state of Bangladesh’s software industry, BASIS programme manager Shariar Shams says, “At present, there are over 4,500 registered software companies in the country where about 5,000 professionals are working.
He also says the demand for Bangladeshi software has increased significantly. A huge quantity of quality software is being produced in the country. The demand for software in the local market is worth over Tk 3.0 billion (300 crore). About the performance of BASIS, Shams says his organisation regularly exports software to 30 countries.
Bangladesh Economic Survey-2007 states the country is exporting software and IT-enabled services to 30 countries, including the USA, Japan, Canada, Australia and different European states. Over 50 software firms and IT companies are involved in the export process.
The survey also says some of the organisations that use Bangladeshi software are Nokia, Japan Airlines, the World Bank, US Postal and US Agriculture Department. An ICT incubator center has been established in Dhaka city’s Karwan Bazar for flourishment of the software industry.
A Commerce Ministry reports on ‘Export of Computer Software from Bangladesh: Problems and Prospects’ says there are many positive aspects of Bangladesh’s software. Every year, a large number of students are receiving degrees and training on computer-related subjects from different government and private universities. Many Bangladeshi students are also studying abroad. Besides, IT-educated manpower is available in Bangladesh at much lower cost than those of the developed countries and even neighbouring India. There are also many problems in the software industry of the country. Saqibul Hasan, an engineer of ICT research-related firm Center for Artificial Intelligence Research and Development, says, “In our country, it’s not being possible to create enough manpower for lack of IT institutions. This is the main problem. Besides, lack of information is another aspect. For instance, many people with the highest degrees in Computer Science don’t even know that software can be made, sitting at home. There are many works available on-line for professionally skilled software developers.”
BASIS executive director TIM Nurul Kabir says despite many problems, Bangladesh’s software sector is moving ahead contributing to the national development. About the prospects of software industry in Bangladesh, eminent economist Dr Atiur Rahman says, “This sector ,will create huge employment opportunities. It’ll be possible to export trained manpower meeting local demand.”
According to experts, the main problems that are hindering development of the industry include absence of duty-free facility in case of software
export-import, problems relating to necessary infrastructure and marketing, reluctance of government offices in using software, lack of IT-based educational institutions, inadequacy of teachers and labs, lack of planning and government support, reluctance of banks to provide loans and absence of software-related laws.
If the existing problems can be resolved, this export-oriented industry can open up a new horizon for national economic growth and development.