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Assessing our IT sector

  • Published at 10:52 pm November 20th, 2019
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Is our IT sector moving in the right direction? Bigstock

Investment and education will play a key role in shaping our country for the future. This is the concluding part of yesterday’s op-ed

An embassy has many responsibilities. So, we can easily afford an IT consultant firm in this regard. 

There are literally thousands of companies and organizations working via the Indian embassies with the same view on the forefront. 

They are giving their time and efforts into portraying Indian tech capabilities in the American market. On the other hand, Bangladesh high-tech park or tech capacity has either little or no activity in this respect.

Our embassies should function better in their liaison capacity. Proper mobilization of the embassy resources can turn a new page in converting our IT park into a success. In essence, the marketing of our tech skills, along with bringing some famous companies into our country requires persistent effort but that shall be rewarded.

Ensuring investment transparency

Each large investment should be based on two principled declarations: Entry criteria, clarifying the issues related to the beginning of the project, and exit criteria describing the conditions applicable to the departure process.     

Many a time, the conditions are not preset. Companies often make an investment on the basis of primary conditions and later on, they face a bunch of bewildering issues. If a company comes forward with an investment, there should be clear cut legal definitions regarding whether they can take the profit or dividend out of Bangladesh under flexible terms. Investment reputation greatly relies on these parameters. Such a reputation or disrepute is a primary factor determining the true size of foreign investment.

I was speaking of laying out a bunch of alluring stimuli in order to entice big IT names. But in reality, there are widespread bitter experiences along the line. The past records of Bangladesh vividly point out that foreign investment faces a number of local, political, and bureaucratic adversities. Such a bad experience is enough for the foreign investors to want to storm out of this country. We must resolve these corrupt practices at any cost.

Modernizing the course curriculum

Thousands of students are setting foot in the job market each year depending on their bookish knowledge. We have to specially arrange some practical skill-based training for them. Apart from this, university IT or computer science should be corroborated with ABCD courses: 

A = Artificial intelligence (Robotics, Machine Learning, IoT, etc); B = Blockchain, fin-tech; C = cyber security; D = data analytics, big data, data warehouse. 

Remember that the world market is truly thirsty for competitive services. But they are looking for premium services within a deadline as well.

Local industry focus

We have to facilitate local entrepreneurs before big companies actually set foot in Bangladesh. Previous records illustrate that our ministries or projects prefer appointing foreign firms. So, those firms ultimately employ foreign workers, taking away all of the project money abroad. 

In truth, barring foreign companies, in turn, obstructs expansion of technical knowledge in our country. But we can lay out a few conditions for the local agents and mediating companies so that they are bound to employ a certain number of native qualified persons.

Our local companies are not fully realizing their potential. We must remember that they need to operate their businesses on an error and correction basis. Otherwise, there is little probability of them getting on an equal footing with their global competitors. We may mention Indian tech firms such as Infosys, Wipro, TCS, TechMahindra, etc in this respect. They have demonstrated outstanding success in business operations in India and now they are expanding their models in European and American markets. The fourth industrial revolution (4iR) calls for not only skilled persons but also unhindered growth mechanism for local IT organizations.

Relaxed loan facilities

Many times, my Bangladeshi students complain that they are unable to garner a flexible government loan opportunity. You can manage easy loans for the RMG industry but not for an IT firm. We must bring about some drastic changes while granting loans in terms of rules and privileges.

We have to upgrade the security situation as well. We should gradually ensure political stability, safety, internet or data security, and safe banking. If we can put an end to corrupt practices and bureaucratic red tape, the fourth pillar is not a far-fetched dream anymore.

Lastly, the Digital Bangladesh manifesto has brought about a dramatic change in the outlook of our young generation, as well as entrepreneurs and planners. Widespread and cheap internet facilities are pulling even the simple village folks into the IT business or training investment. This is an actual picture of a paradigm shift in their mindset. 

Technology advisor Sajeeb Wajed Joy is to be credited as the architectural designer behind this change. On the forefront, State Minister Junaid Ahmed Palak is working overnight to realize the biggest dream.

Bangladesh Hi-Tech Park Authority’s Managing Director (Secretary) Hosne Ara Begum and her team are tirelessly working to make the hi-tech park’s objectives successful. The aim of this juggernaut is to add a fourth pillar to our economy. Until now, agriculture, garments, and remittance are the three pillars supporting our economy. Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) requires another pillar. Time demands a success in the IT sector in the age of the fourth industrial revolution. Bangladesh is moving forward to this target. Bangladesh will leap into the list of developed countries if we can realize an IT revolution by establishing these high-tech parks.

Abubokor Hanip is Founder and CEO, PeopleNTech.