Bangladesh IT companies have been exporting software and other service goods for nearly two decades. Many local companies are now competing against global brands in the international market.
Stakeholders say Bangladeshi companies, as well as the government, are looking for new markets and Africa has the potential to be one.
IT Minister Mustafa Jabbar says: “It is good news for us that Bangladeshi companies are doing well abroad. At the current pace, the income from software export will reach one billion dollars by the end of this year. By 2021, it will go up to $5 billion.”
Currently, Bangladesh earns about $800 million from this sector.
More than 10 Bangladeshi companies – including REVE Systems, Tiger IT, DataSoft, Dohatec, eGeneration, Southtech – have offices in India, Nepal, Bhutan, Malaysia, Japan, UK, US and various African countries.
BASIS President Syed Almas Kabir said about 15 to 20 local companies were working abroad. “They are doing well. Apart from earning [foreign currency], they are also brightening Bangladesh's image. That is a good branding for the country,” he said, adding that some problems still persists when opening offices abroad.
He said many more local companies would be able to work abroad if the problems are resolved.
“One cannot take more than $10,000 when opening an office abroad. However, it is not possible to open a liaison office, support centre or office with that amount,” he said, adding that the amount should be increased.
Replying to a question, he said the government had announced tax holiday for the software sector until 2024. Recently, the government has also announced a 10% cash incentive in software and service goods export.
DataSoft is working on the internet of things (IoT) in Japan. DataSoft System Bangladesh Limited chief Mahboob Zaman said they were getting good response.
“We have explored the US and European markets. Now, we will have to look for a new market. Japan can be a very good market for the future,” he said.
Zaman said they plan to open offices in Africa. Already, they are helping Congo and Kenya use IoT to collect toll.
Reve System has offices in many countries. It has product and services development centres in Dhaka and Delhi while its headquarters is in Singapore.
Its Chief Executive Officer M Rezaul Hassan said the government’s assistance was much needed in the sector. “I and my organization have been getting assistance from the government,” he added.
eGeneration is working on IoT in Japan, blockchain in the Middle East, artificial intelligence, and data science. Its Chairman Shameem Ahsan said: “With Bangladeshi companies working abroad, a positive image of the country is being created.
“We were a ‘low-cost service provider’. From there, we have become solutions provider. This has built our confidence.”
He said it would be possible to raise the income from the sector to $5 billion by 2021.
BASIS and other sources say local company Dohatec New Media is working for the implementation of the Bhutanese government’s e-GP. Tiger IT is helping the Nepalese government with digitalization and automation of national identity cards.
Systech Digital Limited has secured the work for making cloud-based applications for Bhutanese government through bidding. Dream App is working in India and Malaysia.
Systech’s Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer M Rashidul Hasan said experience matters when taking part in the international biddings. “DataSoft is working for the automation of the port, Tiger IT is working with biometric mobile SIM registration, Dohatec is implementing e-GP.”
Bangladesh first exported software worth around $2.8 million in 1999-2000. But software formally started in 2003. That year, the export income was $7.2 million. In the 2012-13 fiscal, the earnings surpassed $100 million. In the 2016-17 fiscal, Bangladesh earned $800 million from the sector.
This article was first published on banglatribune.com