ICT sector beaming with potentials
It won't be surprising if the country's ICT sector surpasses the readymade garment sector as the country's leading foreign exchange earner in the next 10 years. And this expectation is strongly grounded in reality. Bangladesh has made remarkable progress in the sector, especially in the last five years or so. Bangladesh currently has three fibre optic connections with India apart from submarine cables. The government has plans to establish similar connections with Nepal and Bhutan and fibre optic cable connections had been ensured up to Rangpur. Six years ago, the total export from the ICT sector was 26 million dollars; total employment in the ICT sector was a couple of thousand programmers only.
Now the yearly export from the ICT sector has crossed 300 million dollars, around 200, 000 jobs have been generated in this sector, of which more than 25, 000 employments have been generated in this BPO (Business Process Outsourcing) sector. Work is on progress regarding the establishment of two hi-tech parks in Gazipur and Jessore. Software and hardware industries working on ICT will be employed for these massive establishments. The parks will be connected by both road and railway to facilitate investors. The authorities have provided high-speed internet connectivity in public universities at a zero cost.
International investors have been quite appreciative of the recent developments in the country's ICT sector, the investment climate and the potential for return on equity in Bangladesh. Today the term "Digital Bangladesh" has become the new mantra of development. The widespread use of the term clearly signals the government's emphasis on the development of the information and communication technology. Accordingly, the government has formed a separate ministry in 2011 and has employed huge amount of resources in several projects.
The outsourcing market is emerging in Bangladesh in a significant size. The government is running a number of projects to encourage the youth of the country to take up outsourcing jobs. However more training is essential regarding training of the youth so that they can benefit from outsourcing opportunities. Many youngsters can become self-employed by taking advantage of the benefits of modern technology. We feel, women should also be involved in this sector.
The information and communication technology (ICT) revolution has been rightly hailed as the enabling force for developing countries to become more active participants in the global economy. The rapidity with which the 160 million Bangladeshis are embracing the Internet is a marker on which the country's entrepreneurial leaders can pin their hopes for the future.