Definition and scale of sector
Why the sector was chosen in the West Midlands
The current state of the telecommunications and information technology infrastructure in Bangladesh is extremely poor, with only 0.6 telephones per 100 people. Not even 10% of the population has access to a telephone, not to speak of their owning one. Ironically, the country was the first among its Asian neighbors to open up the sector to private sector investments about a decade ago, but it has now fallen far behind some of its neighbors in reforming the telecom sector.
Since telecommunications provide the backbone for information technology, the growth of the IT sector is naturally constrained. The country has made significant progress in some major areas such as food supply, and has become almost self-sufficient in food. With an increase in general economic growth over the recent years, the acute shortages of basic infrastructure facilities like telecom and IT are increasingly felt by a larger percentage of the electorate. So, it is expected that soon after the impending general election is over, the new Government will get on with long-awaited reforms of the sector, and gradually open up the sector fully to the private sector. Consequently, significant investment opportunities may open up for European SME Investors.
The Bangladesh Telegraph and Telephone Board (BTTB), under the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications, had a monopoly on Bangladesh's telecommunications sector until 1989. At present, BTTB has approximately 460,000 telephone Lines to serve 126 million people.
Deregulation of the telecommunications sector has already created considerable interest from overseas firms to run mobile cellular networks, operate rural telephone exchanges, provide paging and trunking facilities and become Internet service providers. At present, there are seven private operators licensed to operate telecommunications services in Bangladesh in addition to BTTB. The Government undertakes to provide basic telecommunications services, transmission services and international services.
The Information Technology (IT) sector in Bangladesh is comparatively small when compared to other South Asian and South East Asian countries, such as India, Pakistan, Philippines and Sri Lanka. However it is believed that this sector has considerable potential to grow, and has increasing potential for small to medium sized investors from Europe.
Following high levels of promotion by the Bangladesh business community, the government of Bangladesh turned it into a new thrust area, which means that it receives the highest level of promotion by the state. Up to now, IT investment in Bangladesh has mostly been confined to information processing, where Bangladeshi firms have developed business alliances with international firms, mostly from America, for data entry, medical forms processing
The Software & Computer Services sector in Bangladesh can be divided into 3 major sub sectors -
The IT-Hardware market in Bangladesh is highly price sensitive. The major players in this market are low-cost manufacturers from China, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan and India. As a result British IT-Hardware manufacturing companies do not seem to have much opportunity of getting themselves involved in this sub sector.
The IT-Training sub sector in Bangladesh has recently been flooded with local and international training institutes/ organisations. In addition to the public and private universities that offer undergraduate and post-graduate courses on IT there are as may as 30 international and more than 1000 local institute offering IT-Training courses of various type and various duration. NCC, City & Guilds (offered by ITI) and CIE courses are the UK-based IT-Training institute present in Bangladesh.
The Software & Services sub sector in Bangladesh can be seen from two different dimensions -
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