Moynul Haque Siddiqui, managing director of [email protected]
Limited spoke to the Dhaka Tribune recently about the importance of hi-tech parks and ICT industries for Digital Bangladesh. [email protected]
is the parent company of Bangladesh TechnoSity Limited which is developing block-3 of Bangabandhu Hi-Tech City (BHTC) in Gazipur.
How can a hi-tech park play bolder role to help build a Digital Bangladesh?
Digitalisation is a process relating to technology and technical services. For that, technological services need to start off with. Hi-tech park industry has one goal-- to improve the ICT, IT, IT Enabled Services (ITES), hardware and software industry. A higher manufacture of technological products and better services will bring down the production costs significantly. If so, these products and services be wel affordable by the masses, pushing up their consumption. However, we must have to understand the fact that manufactoring such technology-based products will not help a country go digitalised alone. We should focus on education as well, mainly about technology, to greatly help people adapt new technologies.
Are the government taxes and incentives enough to attract foreign direct investment (FDI)?
Currently, the officially declared incentives are not sufficient to attract the FDI. Once trhe government will cut taxes and raise incentives on IT sector, it will automaticlly make us highly compenetitive for our neighbouring countries. The proposed incentives have been placed to the authorities concerned several times. After the incentive is increased, it will create a positive perception amongst the investors, ultimately boosting investment in this sector. We are so hopeful about government’s timely and proper response in this regard, attracting the FDI.
Bangladesh is using technology faster than its neighbouring countries by importing a significant amount
Do you think import can be reduced if hi-teck parts are set up locally?
Bangladesh is using technology faster than its neighbouring countries by importing a significant amount. That is why the idea of a hi-tech park emerges. With an aim to increase development of technological products and services in Bangladesh, the government is constructing the BHTC in Gazipur. This apart, local entrepreuners on their own and also with foreign investors can step forward with such an intiative which will lower the prices of IT products and services. As as result, domestic consumption will keep go up and the import volume will shrink. Even, we may export our products after meeting local demand. I suggest that hardware and software industries be given equal priority. lower prices.
How can we generate one million employment through hi-teck parks?
There are four main sources of employment-- skilled manpower, capability to accommodate employees, regular salary payment capacity, and ability to well marketing of products and providing service.
As per international standards, an employee needs 100 square feet of space at work, which is more than double the space local employees require. According to global financial consultancy giant PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), BHTC can accommodate 75,000 per shift. Hence, thiee shifts can have approximately 2.25 lakh employees. If we have five hi-tech parks of the size BHTC has, a million people can easily be employes.
Do you think that BHTC will be ready within projected time?
Completion of BHTC has three big challenges --utility, connectivity and marketing.
FDI in IT sector demands 100% uninterrupted power supply, which is a massive challenge. Connectivity between Dhaka and other parts of the country, especially including airports, land and sea ports, ranks second on the list as a major challenge. We know that road and rail are two primary modes of connectivity. But, traffic congestion does not allow roads to get such priority when it comes to connectivity.
Hence, the government has already started constrcting a train station near BHTC, which is expected to complete by this year. Hopefully, commuter train service from there to Dhaka will begin by early 2018 to make communication smoother. The entire connectivity with the park will be become easier, if the project is finished. The last and most critical challenge for us is that we have no control over marketing of IT products and services.
So, considering all the facts, we are trying to over the three challenges in the next two years, to make the venture a success.
Do you think is it possible to earn $5bn from ICT product export by 2021?
It’s pretty much achieveable to earn the money by the time mentioned. Bangladesh has a huge prospect in software industry. If the government use local software, our software companies will survive and would be able to export their products abroad.
We have a ready market of hardware products worth $1bn. Manufacturing those products in the country, we have to supply in the local market. Before that we need to fix our position on taxation system on imported goods. Now, ICT product manufactures can not sustain in the local market as imported goods are cheaper. So, the government has understand the situation and take a right decision on the issue. Local manufacturer will not survive, otherwise.
The government can take an initiative allocating 1% or 0.5% of Annual Development Program (ADP) for each ministry to develop ICT. It would help increase efficiency of the government employees as well as save money.