Country takes first steps down IT path

PUBLISHED : Friday, 26 March, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 26 March, 2004, 12:00am

The information technology sector has long been an engine of India's economy. But Bangladesh, its subcontinental neighbour, has only just started down the IT road.

A.K.M. Atiqur Rahman, the country's consul-general in Hong Kong, says Bangladesh has some catching up to do compared with its neighbour.

But Bangladesh is determined to do just that. The country drafted and approved a national ICT (information and communication technology) policy in October 2002 in consultation with the private and public sectors, and has already launched a number of initiatives under the policy.

The Formulation of ICT (Electronic Transaction) Act is to be finalised soon with the help of the Law Commission. When in place, it will protect the software sector and facilitate electronic developments within government agencies and statutory corporations. Soon, all major government departments will offer services through their websites.

To ensure that there will be a next generation of IT talent to carry the torch forward, the Ministry of Science and Information and Communication Technology has set up a programme to evaluate and rank ICT training institutes to ensure quality.

Six public universities and one government college have also introduced graduate diploma courses in IT, with each of them churning out 60 students a year. Internships are also arranged for graduates and postgraduates in computer science to provide them with practical training.

Bangladesh's own 'silicon valley' is planned near the capital of Dhaka, costing more than US$42 million to build.

The hi-tech park will house companies in the electronics, computer and communication technologies sectors, as well as in the IT service industry, bio-informatics, agro-bio technology, genetic engineering, pharmaceuticals and plastics.

Bangladesh expects the ICT sector to soon become one of the country's largest employers and foreign exchange earners.