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Technological Environment in Bangladesh

Submitted to: Kohinur Akter BRAC Business School BRAC University

Submitted By: Nazifa Afroze ID: 10104087 Course: BUS 203 Section- 002

Date of Submission: 6th March , 2011

Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is the backbone of Digital Bangladesh and its technological environment. ICT covers the vast area of communication technology, information technology, and the telecommunication technology. The technological environment in Bangladesh is emerging fast. In order to develop our information and communication technology Government developed ICT Policy 2002, 2008 and so on.

ICT Status in Bangladesh: ICT Services: 1) Fixed Telephone service. 2) Cellular mobile Telephone service 3) Transmission service 4) Overseas service 5) Data service 6) Pay phone service 7) Internet service 8) E-Government 9) E-Commerce (Foreign bank/Stock exchange) 10) Radio-AM, FM & HF Service 11) Television Terrestrial & Satellite Internet Subscribers and usage rate :

Total ISP Subscribers 300000 Peak hour internet usage rate: from taka 1.50 to lowest taka 0.20.(US$1 = BDT69.50) For unlimited access: Tk. 800-1000 per month

Cyber Cafes in Bangladesh: Cyber Cafes are working as Community e-Centre. The speed of the internet service varies from 32 Kbps to 4 Mbps. By Dec,05 there are about 500 active cyber cafes operating in Bangladesh.

Overall, Bangladesh ranks 118 among 133 countries but fares worse than most of its South Asian counterparts in the ICT sector.

India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan rank higher than Bangladesh. Bangladeshs low ranking on infrastructure is due to factors such as low level of secure internet servers, lack of widespread and consistent electricity supply and low internet bandwidth. Bangladesh is ranked as one of the lowest in the world (130), in human resource capacity, i.e. in terms of investment by companies in staff training and employee development. Market and political environment: Bangladesh is at its weakest in terms of lack of capital availability to fund innovative but risky projects. There is also a heavy burden of government regulation and starting a business can be a lengthy process.

The country is unprepared in terms of education, staff training, research and investment and infrastructure.

Individual usage takes stock of ICT penetration and diffusion at the individual level, whereas business and government assesses ICT penetration in business and government respectively. Bangladesh fares worst in South Asia at usage by all the different stakeholders, highlighting this as the area that requires significant government focus. It ranks 130th (out of 133) in the presence of ICT tools in government agencies, showing extremely poor penetration and diffusion of ICT in government agencies.

Source: WEF INSEAD GITR (2009-2010) Government owned Telephone Company, Private Mobile Operators, Railway Communication System, Active Internet Service Providers total Bangladesh is already under a digital network. By a small initiative an adequate Nationwide IT backbone could be developed. In this case only government could not be sufficient. Public-Private partnership could be the ideal endeavor. Technology in society: An Information Technology village is going to be set up very close to Dhaka. The government has already made 18 acres of land available for setting up this IT village. All the infrastructure, including high-speed telecommunication facilities ( 2 Mbps link) would be provided. These would enable the small companies to move into buildings with readily

available facilities. Since this is going to take at least two years, a decision has been taken to initially set it up in an existing building in Dhaka.

For example, improved Cooking Stoves are one of the cheapest means to protect women and children from in-door air pollution, which is a major killer in developing countries. The improved stoves reduce wood use by about 50% saving time and money. Improved Cooking Stoves is helping rural families to increase savings and capital, protect their health and save the environment at the same time. Rural people were unaware of renewable technologies and would not spend their hard earned money on a technology, which did not have efficient after sales services at the local level and no opportunity to earn an income but now the whole scenario is changing. There are many workings have been done by technology in society like Biogas technology, Solar energy etc. Strengthening Rural Livelihoods: Dissemination of agricultural technologies for improvement of rural livelihoods Opportunities both for domestic and international markets Creating employment opportunity especially for the women Diversification of high value crops Export promotion and development of AEZ based technology Agro- processing activities Revamping agricultural marketing system Supply chain development

Governments recent interventions: Farmers database and Farmers Inputs Support Card to 1 Crore 82 Lakh farmers. Increased subsidy on Agricultural Inputs (Fertilizer, diesel, electricity, seeds) Farmer friendly agricultural credit policy 1 Crore 82 Lakh farmers new bank accounts being opened 100 Hr. free supplementary irrigation Enhanced Agricultural rehab grants to victims of natural calamities Support for accelerated mechanization of agriculture Surface water irrigation Technology in Economy: There are numbers of incidents in export and import of technologies: 5

Government took many initiatives and thus the expenditures below:

Technology in Industry: Telecom Infrastructure in Bangladesh: 1) Fixed line Telephone : 1,12 million (Up to Sep07) 2) Digitalized Facility : Whole Country. 3) Mobile Telephone : 31.42 million (Up to Sep07) 4) Teledensity : 23.24% per 100 people ( Mobile & PSTN) 5) Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission established in 2002 6) Telephone call charge reduced significantly. 7) Now fixed line phone sector has been opened for private sector investment and 15 company got licenses. 8) Mobile coverage reaches most of the rural areas. 9) Recently Long Distance Telecom services (VOIP) Licenses under process to issue. 10) 1800 KM fiber optic cable under Bangladesh Railway is being utilized by the private mobile telephone operator. 11) Fiber optic link between few districts existing under BTTB. 12) Fiber optic link between all district is planned by BTTB.

Total Subscribers:

BTTB has already established a network for providing Internet connectivity and plans to start commercial service very soon. The proposed tariff rate should make Internet connection affordable to a larger cross-section of public. BTTB is also establishing a fiber optic backbone in the country. They also plan to offer ISDN service very soon using the facilities of the already installed digital exchanges in Dhaka and Chittagong cities. Obstacles of ICT in Bangladesh: Low computer penetration & Economic condition: The first mainframe computer came to Bangladesh in 1964, but usage of computers was not common until very late and personal computers were fairly unknown. Except for some large organizations, and corporations, all work would go on manually, as they were used to over the past years. Computers were expensive, for the individuals as well as for the average businesses. Weak data communication infrastructure & Absence of legal infrastructure: Big organizations would do some information processing but it still was not enough for contributing to the efficient management of public and private sectors. There was not much information generated electronically that information processor could utilize and apply to meet their needs. To put it simply, an information infrastructure was lacking. Even today, the infrastructure development in Bangladesh is sporadic and limited to those who can pay.

As we all know, the ICT infrastructure is defined in terms of availability of shared facility of telecommunication, mobile telephony penetration and cable service penetration. None of these are adequate enough yet to fully usher in the ICT era here in Bangladesh. The inadequacy of this basic infrastructure is largely effecting the other components of ICT so much so that the task force says Bangladesh cannot participate in the global ICT revolution until they are connected. There is no point in discussing our ICT potential if we do not build the highway to connect it. Lack of adequate skilled human resource: IT is not only a hardware that could be run by a particular skill only. It is a knowledge driven technology, so, it need to run with them who have skill, knowledge, information and a level of education. Concentration towards capital city only: Almost all the IT related developments which have taken place during the last few years are concentrated in the capital city, Dhaka; in other cities and towns, only a small number of computers are being used, mostly for word processing. No law against cyber crime & No law of electronic authentication: The lack of any copyright protection for software has been one of the major deterrents in the growth of software industry. A software Copyright Protection Act has already been drafted and is expected to be enacted very soon. Low usage in banking sector: Although the banking sector had been among the pioneers in computerization in Bangladesh, the present level of computer usage in banks is very low. The foreign banks operating in Bangladesh have taken a lead in computerizing their front office operations. It is only during the last 4/5 years that some of the Bangladeshi banks have started gradually computerizing their front office activities and very soon a network of automatic teller machines (ATMs) would be set up by the private banks throughout the major towns. Low facilities in educational sector : At present, Internet access is available only in a few Universities. The University Grants Commission is setting up BERNET (Bangladesh Educational and Research Network) establishing linkage among the Universities and providing access to the Internet. Efforts were initiated about 13 years back to introduce computers in schools and colleges. Computer Studies has been introduced as an optional subject both in SSC and HSC examinations. The lack of adequate physical facilities, computers and qualified teachers has resulted in very few students opting for these courses. Experience of other countries shows that teaching of computer programming by incompetent teachers may do more harm than good. Therefore, teacher training is one of the priority actions to be taken.

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It is clear that the overall economic growth of Bangladesh is only possible if the country capitalizes on its abundant human and intellectual resources, and develops qualified labor rather than the cheap labor that the country is famous for. The introduction of a comprehensive, ICT-focused, educational campaign would make it possible for the country to become a source of high value, skilled ICT workers, boosting the remittance levels, offering opportunities to untold numbers of Bangladeshi citizens. One can also make a good case for further improvement of other aspects of ICT in Bangladesh. Research and development, software industry, hardware industry, service industry, development of ecommerce, uses of ICT for good governanceall these need to be properly developed for us to participate in the worldwide ICT revolution. Steps toward ICT: Exemption of tax on Computer items: The government has taken a decision to withdraw all import duties and VAT from all computer hardware and software. This has brought the prices of computers down to a level affordable by middle income households and sales of PCs have soared during the last few months. A 80-90% annual growth in the number of PCs sold is expected this year. In June, 1996 the government decided to allow private companies to act as Internet Services Providers (ISPs). At present, there are about 22,000 account holders with the ISPs ( 8 in Dhaka and 2 in Chittagong) and the total number of users would be around 100,000. A number of Cybercafs providing e-mail and Internet browsing facilities have been opened in Dhaka city; these are quite popular among the young generation. Public kiosks with internet facilities are also being planned. Computer education: The government has placed top most priority to human resource development in the IT field. At present, the annual output of graduates in the IT field would be around 500. The target is to produce 10,000 programmers annually by the year 2001. There are about 24 Universities offering undergraduate degree programs in IT-related fields. All the four BITs (at Rajshahi, Chittagong, Khulna and Gazipur) are also planning to offer undergraduate degree programs in computer science and engineering. Bangladeshi students have recently been participating in international programming contests. For example, in the ACM Inter-collegiate Programming Contest held at Atlanta, USA, last year, the team from Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (which had earlier emerged as the regional champions) secured the 24th position, above many of the reputed universities in USA (including Stanford University). In the on-going ACM programming contest on Internet, the performance of Bangladeshi students is among the best - out of the top 25 positions, 17 are now occupied by Bangladeshis. In the Regional ACM Inter-collegiate Programming Contest held in Dhaka recently, teams from Bangladesh (particularly from BUET) performed much better than those from other countries of the region (including India, Sri Lanka and Iran). HRD in IT field:

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A large number of Bangladeshis are now working in the IT field in different companies in USA. The government is trying to get the assistance of these non-resident Bangladeshis (NRBs) in IT development, particularly by giving them incentives to set up software companies in Bangladesh. In order to enable rural populace to get the benefits of IT, Grameen Communications is trying to develop a system linking the mobile telephone systems with solar-powered computers. This would enable the large number of rural educational institutes, offices and households to get the benefits of e-mail and Internet access. The present government has recognized IT as one of the priority sectors and is providing all support to the private sector. Development of Information Technology is one of its principal policy goals. New value added services like Integrated Service Digital Network (ISDN), e-commercial, eeducational, e-medical, e-official, e-political & e-other activities are being already introduced by the Bangladesh telecom sector. Conclusion: The Information Communication Technology has arrived here in Bangladesh, it now remains for us to get ready and leap forward to join the ICT revolution. Today Bangladesh is presented with a window of opportunity; we have the tools and now is the time to use them, before the window closes. To build a digital Bangladesh, let build a nationwide IT infrastructure, a tech shabby generation, a human resource with knowledge, nation with kindness and patriotism.

Reference:
http://www.sdnbd.org/sdi/issues/IT-computer/itpolicy-bd-2002.htm http://www.adb.org/ICT/ban-ictdev.asp

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http://www.itu.int/ITU-D/ict/events/bangkok07/doc/18a.%20ICT%20Indicators%20bangladesh.pdf http://bangladeshictpolicy.bytesforall.net/?q=node/177 http://www.it46.se/docs/news/ICTPolicy2008_proposed.pdf http://www.modernghana.com/news/221847/1/digital-bangladesh-and-ict-development.html http://www.cyberbangladesh.org/INFORMATIONTECHNOLOGYINBANGLADESH.html http://www.adb.org/documents/events/2004/sasec/first_mtg_ict/bangladesh_country_paper.pdf http://positivebangladesh.wordpress.com/category/technology-in-bangladesh/ http://www.greengrowth.org/download/green-businesspub/Greening_of_the_Business/Private_Sector/Grameen_Shakti_Pioneering_and_Expanding.pdf http://www.bdnews24.com/details.php?id=180464&cid=4 http://www.tradingeconomics.com/bangladesh/ict-goods-imports-percent-total-goods-imports-wb-data.html http://www.bbs.gov.bd/PageWebMenuContent.aspx?MenuKey=52 http://data.worldbank.org/country/bangladesh

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