Bangladesh has emerged as a potential tech hub in recent years, with a growing number of startups and an increasing focus on digital innovation. Already, the South Asian country has become the second-largest source for IT freelancers and is considered the region’s second most promising technological hub.
Today, over 6,500 startups operate across the country, and the IT sector has created over 300,000 new jobs and contributed 1.3% to its GDP. Bangladesh Association of Software and Information Services President Russel T. Ahmned recently said his country’s IT-Information Technology Enabled Service (ITES) sector could grow to $30 billion by 2031.
There are four high-tech parks across Bangladesh; six more are under construction, whilst Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s government has recently approved building nine more.
The country needs to catch up to the rest of the world regarding blockchain and crypto. According to a Triple-A report, The Bangladeshi government has mentioned a ten-year strategic roadmap, expressing its intention to identify infrastructure document verification, land expertise finance, food agriculture, health supply chain, and smart city judiciary. Authorities have plans to implement blockchain to provide different governmental services under the following ministries.
In July 2022, the Minister of Finance Mustafa Kamal announced the start of research and exploration of Central Bank Digital Currencies. However, Bangladesh has banned cryptocurrencies, despite which 2.4% or 4 million people own cryptocurrency.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has laid out her country’s Smart Vision 2041, a plan to accelerate Bangladesh’s progress and transform it into a knowledge-based economy. Her ambitious project includes 0% poverty, 100% high-speed internet accessibility, and a 100% inclusive, circular, and cashless economy, among other milestones.
“Our education and learning such as e-education, e-health, e-businesses, e-economy, e-governance will be technical knowledge-based,” the prime minister said when announcing her 2041 vision for a fully developed Bangladesh.
“We’ve launched Satellite Bangabandhu-I and will launch our second satellite. We will connect different parts of the country through submarine cables. We will provide broadband internet across the country,” she added. “The Bangladesh of 2041 will be developed, golden, prosperous, and smart.”
Sheikh Hasina explained children will be the driving force toward 2041. “We will develop our children to cope with the coming days that will be technology driven and prepare them to be the skilled manpower for the upcoming fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR).”
According to the World Bank, 64% of the country’s population is under 30, and nearly 30% are between 0-14. This provides a ready talent pool for tech startups and established companies.
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The Vision’s four pillars
Smart Vision 2041 is a comprehensive plan that outlines the steps Bangladesh needs to take to become a developed country by 2041. The plan is built around four pillars: good governance, human resource development, private sector development, and digitisation. The digitisation pillar is fundamental as it aims to leverage technology to transform the economy and create a thriving digital ecosystem.
The government has laid out several initiatives to achieve this goal, including establishing digital economic zones, developing a national e-commerce platform, and creating a digital service platform. Additionally, the government is investing heavily in expanding the country’s digital infrastructure, including broadband connectivity and mobile networks.
One of the key drivers of Bangladesh’s tech revolution is its young and educated population.
Another factor contributing to Bangladesh’s tech potential is its low living and business cost. The country has a large pool of skilled labor, and real estate and office space are affordable compared to other regional tech hubs. This makes Bangladesh an attractive destination for local and international investors looking to set up tech ventures.
Tech start-up incentives
Furthermore, the government is creating an enabling environment for tech startups by offering various incentives, such as tax exemptions and access to funding. The country has also been improving its ease of doing business ranking, which makes it easier for startups to register and operate.
However, despite these positive developments, Bangladesh still faces several challenges that could hinder its progress as a tech hub. The country’s weak intellectual property laws and enforcement mechanisms are among the most significant obstacles. That could deter companies from investing in the country’s tech sector, as their innovations and intellectual property could be at risk.
Another challenge is the country’s digital divide, with many rural areas needing access to basic digital infrastructure. That limits the potential reach of tech startups and makes it harder for them to scale their operations.
While it faces challenges, the country’s large and young population, low cost of living, and supportive government policies make it a promising destination for tech startups and investors. If Bangladesh can address the challenges it faces and continue on its current trajectory, it has the potential to become a major player in the global tech industry.