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Dhaka Tribune

Hi-tech parks to make Bangladesh IT hub

Update : 16 Apr 2017, 12:24 AM
Bangladesh is building a number of hi-tech parks to attract foreign direct investment in hardware and software manufacturing industry. The government plans to make Bangladesh a hardware-software manufacturing country. State Minister for ICT Division Zunaid Ahmed Palak said they want to earn $5bn annually and create 1m jobs by 2021 in the industry. Industry insiders think the goal is “very much possible” to be achieved to earn $5bn exporting ICT products by 2021 if two or three hi-tech parks can be operated successfully. Experts said the new hi-tech parks will be the centre of global investors in the industry. They cited the examples of South Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, China, Japan, India and Vietnam as success stories in increasing export revenue introducing hi-tech parks. Bangladesh aims to become a middle income through the success in the ICT industry. Bangladesh Hi-Tech Park Authority (BHTPA) was established in 2010 as an autonomous body to develop the ICT industry through creation, management, operation and development of hi-tech parks. Bangabandhu Hi-Tech City (BHTC) is the first full-fledged special economic zone for IT/ ITES and hi-tech industry in Bangladesh. BHTC covers an area of almost 250+ acres, which is divided in five blocks. Recently, a total of 97 acres land added in the BHTC. Located at 32km from Shahjalal International Airport, Dhaka, BHTC has been declared as “Bonded Warehouse” with the promise of governmental support to ensure uninterrupted utilities and efficient rail and road connectivity to get well connected with Dhaka central, along with various special incentives for the investors. As this project is in alignment with government’s “Vision 2021” to develop Digital Bangladesh, it has now become one of the most priority project for government. Summit Technopolis is developing second and fifth blocks of BHTC at a cost of $207m. A portion of its structure will be completed by June this year.Jessore Sheikh Hasina Software Technology Park in Jessore is set to be launched by June, 2017 CourtesyBangladesh Technosity Limited (BTL) is mandated, as per the Concession Agreement with the BHTPA, to develop, promote and operate block 3 of the BHTC, Kaliakoir, on Design, Built, Finance, Operate, Own and Transfer (DBFOOT) model under Public Private Partnership initiative. BTL is committed to develop a world class special economic zone facilities at block 3 of BHTC for technology-orientated companies, and to promote Bangladesh and BHTC as an attractive investment destination for both national and multi-national corporations. First commercial multi-tenant building (BTL’s Solaris) at block 3 of BHTC is under construction and is expected to be functional by the end of this year. As such, it has already been started to lease-out commercial spaces along with floor space to establish small to medium assembling units at BTL’s Solaris. Apart from multi-tenant building, other purpose-built industrial sheds, to establish medium to large manufacturing plants, are also being offered to the interested entities at block 3. Besides BHTC, the government has also planned to set up 12 IT parks in the country for building a “Digital Bangladesh.” A total of 12 IT parks will be established in 12 separate districts - Jamalpur, Natore, Thakurgaon, Comilla, Maymensing, Kareniganj (Dhaka), Barisal, Rangpur, Rajshahi, Sylhet, Khulna and Chittagong. Since its inception, the high-tech park authority has successfully established Janata Tower Software Technology Park, Jessore Sheikh Hasina Software Technology Park, and is in the process of developing several more high-tech parks across the country. Bangladesh Navy is developing the Sylhet Hi-Tech Park (Sylhet Electronics City) which will be implemented at a cost of Tk134.02 crore. Barendra Silicon City will be completed by June 2019 being built at 31 acres of land near Rajshahi Deputy Commissioner’s Office. Md Mahfuzull Kabir, deputy project director of Barendra Silicon City, told the Dhaka Tribune that they would float tender within three months. The Silicon City is expected to create over 14,000 direct employments. To attract more foreign investment in the country, Hi-Tech Park Authority has announced an incentive packages. Syed Amdadul Huq, director (admin and finance), Bangladesh Hi-Tech Park Authority told the Dhaka Tribune that most of the employments in the country would be created based on hi-tech parks. Moynul Haque Siddiqui, managing director of Fiber@Home, parent company of Bangladesh TechnoSity Limited, said: “We need a set of skilled human resources, to accommodate the employees, be able to invest in order to pay their salaries, and to market our products and services well enough to gain business which brings enough funds to accommodate the above points.” UK-based multinational professional services network, PricewaterhouseCoopers-PWC has suggested BHTC can accommodate 75,000 employees per shift on a two shift basis. In three shifts, BHTC can, therefore, accommodate approximately 210,000 employees. If there is a total of five hi-tech parks of approximately the same size, it can automatically be overcome the accommodation aspect of the 1m employee challenge. The challenges that are faced are getting all five hi-tech parks running. It will be required an investment of about $2bn. An additional $1bn is required for developing the skilled work force. This can be achieved in 15 years. For the other new hi-tech parks to succeed, it is needed to ensure that BHTC, the very first hi-tech park in Bangladesh, succeeds. If BHTC is successful, 200,000 employees are assured in the next 10 years. After that the goal of another 800,000 employees in the other four hi-tech parks can be reached in the next five years. A Sri Lankan company has shown interest in developing an industry at the ongoing BHTC. Earlier, Abu Reza Khan, managing director of Summit Technopolis Limited termed the Sri Lankan investment a very positive move for the industry. “The country has just started to set up the high-tech park and it would definitely bring a huge FDI which ultimately change our economic growth,” he added.
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