According to the government, Bangladesh has exported software worth $800 million (Tk6,720 crore) last year. The objective was set to export software amounting to a billion dollars by next December.
However, questions have risen regarding the viability of this objective, as information on the amount of income derived through software export is mostly derived through guesswork. The method of blending institutional information and guesswork has given rise to questions for years.
But this time around, Bangladesh Association of Software and Information Services (BASIS) will officially conduct a research on export income that comes from software and service products. Through this, the actual amount that is being earned through software export will be found.
The government has targeted to export software and service products worth $1 billion and $5 billion by 2018 and 2021, respectively.
Affiliated sources, however, have said that the $800 million export income that the government has shown has a huge difference with the information provided by Export Promotion Bureau (EPB). As a result, there have been doubts over the actual export income.
In the software sector, most of the earnings come from individual initiatives. There is a big demand for ERP solutions made by Bangladeshi software builders
While talking on this subject, the President of BASIS, Syed Almas Kabir said: “The calculation provided by EPB did not include the export earnings through freelancers, software developers and services provided by the call centres, all of which tally up to $800 million.”
He added, “Through our informal survey, we found out that the total earnings from software and service products amounted to $800 million. But we are now going to conduct a formal survey and let everyone know about the results from it.”
Sources have said that the survey might start after the ongoing “BASIS SoftExpo 2018” ends.
EPB sources have informed that, in the fiscal year 2016-17, ICT export earnings stood at around $200 million. However, according to data by EPB and Bangladesh Bank, the ICT export earnings for the FY 2015-16 was $158 million.
Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS)’s data says that the export earnings stood at $258 million, but it did not include the earnings from freelancers, software developers and call centres. After including all of these, the earnings amounted to a total of $800 million.
Affiliated ones have admitted that such a large discrepancy in the figures is unacceptable. Things can only be clarified after BASIS completes its formal survey.
On the other hand, on February 22, at the inauguration ceremony of the software expo, Minister of Posts, Telecommunication and Information Technology Mustafa Jabbar said, “We have reached the target of $800 million in our export earnings. This year, we will reach the target of $1 billion. But we aim to reach export earnings of $5 billion by 2021.”
Convener of BASIS SoftExpo 2018, Mustafizur Rahman Sohel said: “In the software sector, most of the earnings come from individual initiatives. There is a big demand for ERP solutions made by Bangladeshi software builders in foreign markets. Other than that, chatting applications, billing software, mobile operation and network management are also in demand.”
He added: “Besides exporting software, several Bangladeshi organizations are performing well in institution and government level digitalization work. Dohatec is working on e-procurements in Nepal while SouthTech is working for the digitalization for a country’s government. Tiger IT is working in different countries.”
Mustafizur Rahman Sohel also talked about his own organizations, which are working in Malaysia and India, and hopes to get more work for them in the future.