All eyes on Bangladesh!
By Shalini Ratwatte | 23 November 2022
Photo credits: Britannica
In the backdrop of having Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong, the four Asian Tigers with their incredibly high growth rates over the past decades with exceptionally steady GDP growth rates of over 7% or more during their rise, Bangladesh has been demonstrating great promise in line. In the last five years, Bangladesh has been able to maintain a GDP growth rate of over 7%, reaching an all-time high of 8.2% in 2019. Despite taking a hit in its growth rate in 2020 due to the pandemic, according to ADB (Asian Development Bank), Bangladesh is projected to have a quick recovery going over 7% again in 2022 and it is expected to stay steady at over 7% from there. Looking at what has made Bangladesh’s rise possible, upfront and center is the contribution of its $30 billion garment industry. However, Bangladesh is already working on various diversification to solidify its journey towards becoming the next Asian Tiger. With ICT exports already hitting the $1 billion mark, Bangladesh is planning to increase ICT exports to $5 billion by 2025.
Skills: According to Coursera, the leading online learning platform which took the initiative to understand the skills proficiency of people, analyzing performance data across 65 million learners on their platform for 12 months. Their report benchmarked skills proficiency for 60 countries. The analysis went across 10 industries and 11 fields of study in business, technology, and science in their Global Skills Index. Among the four categories – Cutting-Edge (rank 1-15), Competitive (rank 16-30), Emerging (rank 31-45), and Lagging (rank 46-60) – Bangladesh came at 57 for both tech skills and Data Science skills. Whereas Bangladesh’s neighbor, India, came in the Emerging category for tech skills. However, India came at 51 for Data Science. A skilled workforce is a fundamental necessity for the rapid technological growth of a country and we are hopeful that the government’s sincerity to build a “Digital Bangladesh” will address upskilling and building capable and tech-savvy professionals with globally recognized skills.
Connectivity: Bangladesh has made tremendous strides when it comes to internet penetration. Riding from 2G to 4G, it has achieved 60% penetration in the last 12 years from a mere 0.4%. with Internet cost coming down to 1% of what it used to be a decade ago and is working to bring the cost even lower. It has joined the Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI), the largest global coalition that works to reduce internet costs. The government is also working on sound policies and regulations. This expansion in internet accessibility has facilitated Bangladesh to become the 2nd most favorite country for freelancing according to the Oxford Internet Institute.
Bridging the Socio-Economic Digital Divide: When it comes to the technology overview of a country or concepts like Digital Bangladesh, it is not only about implementing state-of-the-art technologies like AI, Big Data, IoT (Internet of Things), VR (Virtual Reality), but also about mitigating the socio-economic divide due to the availability of technology and digital services to the country’s 180 million populace. Under the Digital Bangladesh agenda, the One-stop Digital Centre is one of the large-scale projects of the Access to Information Project (a2i). There are 5000 one-stop Digital Centres located within 4km from a village throughout the country. These centres ensure access to vital information and services for rural people. They help to save money, time, and effort for them regardless of their literacy and computer skills. The Digital Centres have made it possible to make Government services available to the rural population with ease
Building Digital Services: According to the e-Commerce Association of Bangladesh (e-CAB), the current market size of E-commerce in Bangladesh is around $1 billion. To make things even more interesting, Bangladesh has been booming with unique startups that are working with technology-based solutions across industries
With the support of government funding, local and international Venture Capital firms, and other investors and incubators it will be interesting to see how Bangladesh emerges as a center for technology-driven businesses in Asia by the next decade.