Digital doers lauded
Four local organisations and two individuals were feted yesterday at the sixth The Daily Star ICT Awards ceremony for their outstanding contributions in taking the country forward in the digital and information technology spheres.
Speakers at the ceremony said the government needs to build skilled human resources and develop infrastructure in line with the fourth industrial revolution to survive in the coming days.
They also stressed on giving opportunities to local tech companies in the government's mega projects to develop their skills.
They praised the efforts of the individuals working relentlessly to provide digital services during the lockdown.
At the event held in a hotel in the capital, two individuals, four local IT firms and e-commerce organisations were awarded for their outstanding contributions to the country's fast-growing ICT industry.
The event was organised in association with Independent University, Bangladesh, Brac Bank, and Bangladesh Association of Software and Information Services (BASIS). Radisson Blu Dhaka Water Garden was the hospitality partner.
Kamal Quadir, chief executive officer of bKash Limited, won the ICT Business Person of the Year award. The Bangladeshi American entrepreneur is best known for introducing e-commerce in the country by founding CellBazaar, an online marketplace.
Syed Mamnun Quader, managing director and CEO of Southtech Group who is an iconic figure in the Bangladeshi tech industry, got the ICT Pioneer award.
The rokomari.com, a leading online bookshop that took digital commerce to every corner of the country, received the Digital Commerce of the Year award.
Ulkasemi got the ICT Solution Provider of the Year (International Market Focus) award.
Pridesys IT Ltd, one of the leading enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions providers in Bangladesh, received the ICT Solution Provider of The Year (Local Market Focus) award.
Shajgoj Limited, a growing beauty and personal care e-commerce and content platform, won the ICT Start-up of the Year award.Mohammed E Rahman, founder and CEO of Ulkasemi; Ahteshamul Shams Rakib, co-founder of Rokomari; Sinthia Sharmin Islam, co-founder of Shajgoj Limited; Kamal Quadir, bKash CEO; Mir Monuwar Iqbal, founder and CEO of Pridesys IT Ltd; Syed Mamnun Quader, managing director and CEO of Southtech Group; and bKash CEO Kamal Quadir received the awards from Dr Gowher Rizvi, international affairs adviser to the prime minister.
"We need to develop the attitude to become lifelong learners."
Deputy Managing Director and Chief Operating Officer of Brac Bank Sabbir Hossain, Pro-vice Chancellor of Independent University Prof Niaz Ahmed Khan, BASIS President Syed Almas Kabir and Editor and Publisher of The Daily Star Mahfuz Anam also haded the awards with Gowher Rizvi.
The Daily Star introduced the awards in 2016 to promote the sector's development and highlight the frontrunners who can become a benchmark for others.
The awards are also aimed at recognising the excellent work in the ICT sector, encouraging the ICT community and to strengthen the ICT ecosystem, creating an environment that sustains entrepreneurial spirit, and supporting the young ICT entrepreneurs to utilise their potential.
Yesterday's programme began with a video presentation highlighting Bangladesh's progress in the ICT sector.
In his address, Gowher Rizvi said the ICT sector is developing in a manner that today's education will become outdated tomorrow. "We need to develop the attitude to become lifelong learners."
He said although IT is eradicating poverty, it is also creating inequality.
"If we do not address it, many will be left behind. We will have to take it very, very seriously."
Despite all the progress, only 13 percent of the workforce are female, he said, adding that the government must provide necessary support to increase participation of women in the ICT sector.
Syed Almas Kabir, president of BASIS, said the Covid-19 pandemic could not stop the economic wheel of the country thanks to the infrastructure
"We've already entered the fourth industrial revolution. But without skilled human resources we'll not be able to progress," he said.
He also said there is a gap between academic and industrial knowledge. The government needs to pay attention to bridge the gap.
Underscoring the need for broadband connectivity across the country, he said internet service has reached remote areas of the country, but it is mainly mobile internet. "We need broadband connection so that people can start outsourcing from home."
Expressing his gratitude to The Daily Star, Kabir said motivation is always good. "The award will motivate us to excel further. I hope The Daily Star will continue this initiative to motivate us further."
Building and uplifting trust of consumers is the main task of e-commerce, said Tajdin Hassan, chief marketing officer of Daraz.
An e-commerce firm should build trust of consumers and use their experience to survive in the industry, he said.
People learnt and embraced more digital activities during the pandemic and customers are also now using more digital tools, said Sabbir Hussain, COO of Brac Bank.
"ICT and digital services are now becoming part of our life," he added.
"It brings convenience to our life as, from transferring money to buying medicine, all services are now at the tips of our fingers. Brac Bank is playing a role in promoting the ICT sector."
The ICT sector is performing a great role for the country and it needs to be recognised, said Niaz Ahmed Khan, pro-VC of Independent University.The university is working towards that by launching related programmes, he added.
Sonia Bashir Kabir, managing director of SBK Tech Ventures, congratulated the winners saying, "You are contributing to the economy."
Bangladesh's GDP is growing and rising in an unstoppable manner, and technology is contributing to that, she said.
Technology is not just an enabler, it is an equaliser, she added.
Mahfuz Anam, editor and publisher of The Daily Star, echoed Almas Kabir saying the industry needs should be matched in university education.
"We have a big human resource but they are not appropriately trained. So, Bangladesh should focus on knowledge," he said.
Digitalisation is not just to do with technology; it is now a way of life, he said.
Innovation in digital services touches all from the agricultural sector to the industrial sector, he added.
"If we can digitalise our whole process of government activities, then accountability will come and efficiency will be higher," Anam said.
The government should start giving opportunities to local ICT industries to contribute to the mega projects.
Some technology should come from the local entrepreneurs to boost them, he added.