Bangladesh becoming IT hub of South Asia

April 8, 2023

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Bangladesh is fast becoming a global player in the Information Technology (IT) industry, having already grabbed a major share of the IT market in South Asia.

According to the latest Global Location Service Index, the country’s IT outsourcing ranking stands at 21, while it is also the second largest producer of IT freelancers in the world.

Recent data from the Export Promotion Bureau shows that Bangladesh earned $592 million from exports of IT and Information Technology Enabled Service (ITES)-related services, including software, consultancy, and equipment maintenance, in the 2021-22 fiscal year.

Bangladesh Association of Software and Information Services (BASIS) data shows even higher earnings, with $1.4 billion in export earnings in FY22 and near 100% domestic value-addition, holding a $1.5 billion equivalent market share in local market earnings.

So far, the ICT sector has contributed 1.28% to the country’s GDP while creating more than 300,000 jobs.

BASIS President Russel T Ahmed said the organization is working to achieve globally agreed goals under the United Nations umbrella to become a developing country by 2026.

Quoting Prime minister Sheikh Hasina and her IT advisor Sajeeb Wazed Joy, the BASIS president said: “This industry has the potential to generate the highest export earnings among all sectors.”

He further said IT-ITES has potential to emerge as the third engine of the country’s economy, after RMG and remittance. The country’s IT sector may be valued at around $30 billion by 2031.

According to BASIS analysis, US-based global tech giants and some IT-led countries are now looking for an alternative to India for IT-related services in the Asian region. The BASIS president believes this has given Bangladesh an opportunity, and all stakeholders – the government, industries, and academia – should work together to promote IT and IT training.

State Minister for ICT Zunaid Ahmed Palak said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, with the help of her ICT Affairs Advisor Sajeeb Wazed, unveiled the Awami League’s “Digital Bangladesh” plan in 2008. The party set about implementing the plan immediately after coming to power in December the same year.

“We have transformed the country into a digital one. Now the government and BASIS are working to make Bangladesh smart country by 2025,” he added.

Picture of the domestic software market

Bangladeshi software and IT-enabled services firms have been serving clients in more than fifty countries in four continents. The domestic market is set for robust growth due to rapid expansion of ICT-based citizen services and enhanced awareness of ICT-led productivity and efficiency growth in the private sector.

According to the ICT industry white paper, nearly half (47%) of the country’s IT market is shared by various software development firms, 34% by multifunctional and ITES companies, and the remaining 19% by Business Process Outsourcing and e-commerce firms.

Locally, over 50,00 IT experts are operating in the industry, mainly catering to the demand for customized software development and maintenance.

Sector insiders said that 57% software companies are currently involved in IT projects in the garment sector. The rest are involved in hospitals, customer relationship management, banks, and the government’s e-governance projects.

HR and payroll software is in high demand in the garment sector

According to BASIS, a total of 25 local software companies are now developing integrated business applications and enterprise resources planning (ERP) software, both of which used to be imported.

A total of 30 companies are using Bangladeshi products in the country, while efforts are ongoing to export software to Egypt and Vietnam. Tiger IT, DataSoft, Dohatec, eGeneration, REVE Systems, and Southtech are some of the Bangladeshi companies that have already set up offices in India, Nepal, Bhutan, Malaysia, Japan, the UK, the US and various African countries.

Local company ATL Limited is already exporting products to Pakistan, Thailand, Saudi Arabia and Dubai.

The country’s main export destinations and clients are the USA, Europe, the UK, and Japan.

The BASIS president hoped that local firms would continue to assert their dominance in the market over the next few years.

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