Bangladesh is on the way to get five more hi-tech parks as top officials of the Bangladesh Hi-Tech Park Authority and the World Bank sit in Cox's Bazar today to negotiate an estimated $122 million fund.
With this, the number of government hi-tech, software and IT parks will rise to 33, said senior officials of the park authority.
Hosne Ara Begum, managing director of the park authority, said it sent the proposal to the Economic Relations Division in the last week of March and the latter completed the formalities and immediately placed the request with the WB's Dhaka office.
“We hope that the formalities will be completed within a short time after successful negotiations and then we will move for establishing the parks as soon as possible.” she said.
Officials said the park authority was primarily mulling locations in five districts: Madaripur's Shibchar upazila, Chandpur's Matlab, Joypurhat's Kalai, Manikganj's Paturia and either Sirajganj sadar or its Kazipur upazila.
Mohammad Atiqul Islam, deputy director (planning) of the park authority, said it has finalised a proposal for the WB and hopes to get the fund without further delay.
The authority has also started conducting a feasibility study on the new parks and hopes to start the development work soon while giving priority to environmental issues and preserving original landscapes, he said.
“This time we will directly appoint foreign developers to get the work done fast,” he added.
Some of the parks are already being funded by the WB along with the government and India.
The government undertook a Tk 1,796.40 crore project last year to establish 12 information technology and hi-tech parks in different districts, to transform Bangladesh into a digital economy.
The government's target is to boost the initiative to earn $5 billion from the ICT sector by generating jobs for 20 lakh youths by 2021, said Ara, also a secretary to the ICT division.
The government formed the park authority in 2010 to give a boost to the initiative and develop the ICT industry by creating, managing and operating such parks.
Some parks, such as Janata Tower Software Park in the capital and Sheikh Hasina Software Technology Park in Jessore, have already been opened and are home to a large number of digital companies.
The projects for 12 parks will be completed next year, according to Ara.
Furthermore, two private firms have already started developing Bangabandhu Hi-Tech City in Gazipur's Kaliakoir and recently expanded the project's area by about 77 acres to 355 acres of land.
It will be the country's first full-fledged special economic zone for IT and IT-enabled services and hi-tech industries.