Tech trailblazers feted
Four companies and two individuals were recognised at the seventh edition of The Daily Star ICT Awards yesterday for their outstanding roles in taking the sector forward.
Luna Shamsuddoha, founder of software firm Dohatec New Media, was posthumously awarded the ICT Pioneer Award, and Moynul Haque Siddiqui, chairman of [email protected], was recognised as the ICT Business Person of the Year at the event organised in association with Brac Bank, Daffodil International University, and Bangladesh Association of Software and Information Services.
Digicon Technologies won the ICT Solution Provider of the Year in the local market focus category and BJIT Group in the international market focus category.
Online travel aggregator ShareTrip got the Digital Commerce of the Year award and agro-tech platform iFarmer start-up of the year.
Siddiqui; Reem Shamsuddoha, daughter of Luna Shamsuddoha; Sadia Haque, co-founder of ShareTrip; Fahad Ifaz, chief executive officer of iFarmer; Hosna Ara Jasmine, BJIT's head of finance; and Azmal Haque Azim, director of Digicon Technologies, received the awards from Industries Minister Nurul Majid Humayun at the ceremony held at Le Meridien Dhaka, the hospitality partner for the event.
"Bangladesh made a lot of progress in ICT, but it is still lagging," Humayun said.
There is a gap between policy and implementation in the sector, which needs to be sorted out in consultation with the industry's stakeholders.
"We must work together to bridge the gap. I assure you from the government that we will work together," Humayun added.
A lot of initiatives were taken to develop the ICT sector, but Bangladesh could not reach its destination, said Sabur Khan, chairman of Daffodil International University.
For instance, the duties and value-added tax were withdrawn for IT products 25 years ago.
"Still, the country could not reach the destination. We tried to find the destination but we failed," he said, adding that those who are contributing to taking the sector forward must be recognised and feted.
Every single government digital and IT project was implemented by the local companies, said BASIS President Russell T Ahmed, adding that 350 members of the association are exporting IT services.
If the local ICT companies are given adequate support, the sector's export target can be achieved.
"We should do an analysis of the targets we have already missed. We need to set a comprehensive and consolidated approach for our new targets," he said, adding that by 2031, the sector's exports would hit $20 billion.
The ICT industry is constantly evolving and growing, and it is important to recognise and honour those who have made significant strides in this field, said Selim RF Hussain, managing director and CEO of Brac Bank.
"Bangladesh made a lot of progress in ICT, but it is still lagging behind. There is a gap between policy and implementation in the sector. We must work together to fill up the gap."
This is also an exciting time for financial institutions, as they have significantly upgraded themselves with their digital-first strategies to serve the customers.
The adoption of digital banking channels; implementation of digital onboarding processes (eKYC); use of advanced analytics; development of digital products and services; and automation of back-office processes are taking place with significant momentum in the sector.
Banks will continue to invest in and expand their digital banking capabilities such as greater adoption of artificial intelligence and machine learning to improve customer service, become cost-efficient and detect and prevent fraud, Hussain added.
Bangladesh has the opportunity to revolutionise by deploying IT in areas of education, health and governance, said Mahfuz Anam, editor and publisher of The Daily Star.
"ICT is a great success story for Bangladesh, but it could have been a much bigger success story. You have done wonderful but it is not sufficient. You need to do more."
A lot of policies were made for the development of the IT sector but due to a lag in implementation, the results are not materialising.
"Now that we have the confidence, we need to work together for achieving the target of exporting IT products and services worth $20 billion by 2031. We have the time and let us put our hearts and minds together to achieve the target," he added.
iFarmer facilitates retail and institutional funders to finance farmers, enables access to high-quality agri inputs through partnerships with companies and retailers and creates better market access for farmers.
[email protected] built about 50,000km nationwide optical fibre-based transmission backbone, enabling a common connectivity platform for different service providers like mobile operators, cable TV operators and internet service providers.
Digicon Technologies is a leading outsourcing organisation in Bangladesh, with an industry-leading edge in the vertical of BPO and IT/ITES solutions.
BJIT Group has been successfully providing software solutions in the global market for more than 21 years.
In 1992, when the people of Bangladesh knew little about computers and the internet, a woman and young entrepreneur Luna founded Dohatec New Media to provide software solution designs and development services to institutions, government agencies and corporations globally.
Luna's vision and indomitable appetite for technological advancement helped the company to grow as a leading software company in Bangladesh that has also attained worldwide glory.