Software and IT service providers yesterday rolled out an ambitious roadmap to earn $1 billion from exports—10 times higher than the current level—and create 1 million professionals in five years.
In addition, Bangladesh Association of Software and Information Services (BASIS) aims to make the internet available to one crore new users a year and to contribute 1 percent to gross domestic product from the software and IT sector by 2018 under the One Bangladesh campaign.
ICT opened an opportunity to speed up the process of development, Finance Minister AMA Muhith said as he inaugurated the campaign as chief guest at Radisson Hotel in Dhaka.
BASIS President Shameem Ahsan said: “We have crafted a roadmap for the next five years with specific milestones, targets, an appropriate detailed vision and plans. Through this campaign, we will firmly realise the government's vision for a Digital Bangladesh.”
Local software and IT vendors exported services and products worth $100 million in 2012-13—a 50 percent rise from the previous year, said BASIS Secretary General Russell T Ahmed.
“Bangladesh has immense potential in the ICT sector. By achieving these targets we believe we will take Bangladesh's ICT sector to newer heights.”
The roadmap highlights the potential strength of the sector that employs less than 200,000 professionals, with the number of internet users standing at 3 crore.
Zunaid Ahmed Palak, state minister for ICT, said the sector contributes immensely to the economy.
Bangladesh can claim to be a key destination for global IT investment, thanks to the youth, a growing English-speaking population, and low costs.
Shahriar Alam, state minister for foreign affairs, said the country's investment-friendly ICT policy would give much-needed impetus to the campaign.
Muhith said infrastructure is still weak in the sector compared to what is required to run the present level of business, despite a technology revolution in the country in the past couple of decades.
“They also need to be serious about environmental damage in terms of radiation. They will have to go underground.”
Ahsan said the sector would also aim to increase local sales to $1 billion in the next five years.
The government should withdraw taxes and value-added taxes levied on the sector, which will ultimately give back to the country in terms of creating jobs and contributing to the GDP, Ahsan added.
The government should extend half of the investment needed in the sector, as the private sector is ready to put in the other half, he added.