What is the current state of the software development industry in Bangladesh? (2022)

Nov 14, 2022 |
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The Software, also referred to as the Information Technology Enabled Services or ITES, is one of the most promising industries in Bangladesh right now. With multiple growth drivers from a large pool of young talented professionals to the government’s patronage towards software businesses, this industry has seen significant growth during the last few decades. The ITES industry is not only heavily contributing to the national economy but also creating employment opportunities for fresh graduates.

In this article, we are doing a deep dive into the present situation of software development and the IT industry of Bangladesh. So if you want to understand what its current state is and what its future might hold, keep reading.

Software development is a multi-step process consisting of the ideation, definition, design, programming, documentation and testing of an application. In Bangladesh, the size of the software development industry is small, yet impactful. In line with the 200+ million population, there are more than 4500 software and ICT companies registered in Bangladesh. These businesses employ over 300,000 local software developers and ICT specialists while collectively supplying software valued at $1.18 billion.

How is the Bangladesh Government patronizing its software industry?

The most influential reason behind the software industry’s rapid growth is the government’s aim to create and sustain a ‘Digital Bangladesh’. Through this movement, the government has shown its support for digitization in various ways, from building ICT-based infrastructure and research centers to waiving tax for software-developing enterprises.

The Digital Bangladesh movement focuses on four crucial goals.

  1. Educating and preparing human resources for the digital age.
  2. Interconnecting people in a meaningful way.
  3. Delivering services to citizen’s reach with help of digital measures.
  4. Empowering the private sector and industry by utilizing digital technology.
Ever since declaring the Vision 2021, Bangladesh government has been determined to effectively use the potential of ICT in enhancing its efficiency and transparency, creating job opportunities, improving the quality of education, commercial endeavors and services provided to the citizens.

Even during unstable times such as April to September of 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic was at its worst stage, the government provided grants to software development companies so that they could keep their development processes running.

What are the organizations supporting software development in Bangladesh?

Even prior to the Digital Bangladesh momentum, the Bangladesh government had taken effective steps towards driving a digital revolution in the country. By establishing multiple associations to support the growth of software development and, at the same time, organizing workshops and events to educate IT professionals, the country has positively impacted its ITES industry.

Let’s discuss a few such organizations that have helped our software development industry to expand and flourish.

• Bangladesh Association of Software and Information Services (BASIS)

Most people familiar with the software industry of Bangladesh have at least heard of BASIS. It is a national organization formed in 1998 that works as an engagement platform for software and information technology companies of the country. In 2003, this organization had only 82 members. 20 years later, at the end of 2022, its members list has 2165 entries.
BASIS regularly hosts seminars, workshops, programming competitions and trade shows. It also represents the Bangladesh IT sector in foreign IT exhibitions.

• Bangladesh Computer Samity (BCS)

This organization was founded in 1987 as a national association of all software enterprises ranging from hardware and software sellers to wholesalers, assemblers and developers. This organization currently, in December of 2022, has 2353 members. Many businesses are members of both BASIS and BCS.

• Bangladesh Computer Council (BCC)

This is an independent agency under the Ministry of Science and Information and Communication Technology. Its purpose is to support different activities related to IT.

What is the situation of human resources in the software industry of Bangladesh?

Bangladesh has been nurturing a significant number of passionate and skilled entrepreneurs who are willing to keep the software development industry growing. According to a study by Paul Tija, 42 public and private institutions of Bangladesh as well as some other institutions and colleges provide degrees in Information Technology and Computer Science related subjects. Approximately 3000 students graduate from these degrees every year. On top of that, annual enrollment for IT training centers average at around twelve thousand.

The human resources of our software industry are largely divided into two groups – freelance tech professionals and software developing companies.

• Freelancers

The country produces around 20K CS graduates per year and with the rise and popularity of the gig economy, a substantial number of them prefer to pursue a career as a freelancer. According to the Oxford Internet Institute, Bangladesh is currently the second largest supply online outsourcing force in the world, surpassing the United States of America. With about 1 million active freelancers in the country, freelance professionals bring in a total remittance of $2 billion per year.

• Software development companies

With 4500 registered software and ICT companies in Bangladesh, there has been a significant contribution to the government’s processes by said companies. From their partnership with Access to Information (a2i) to innovating and developing a dynamic portal such as corona.gov.bd, software development companies have been a key player in the government’s Digital Bangladesh agenda.

Which software categories are popularly worked on in Bangladesh?

Software development comprises a large variety of potential projects, applications and platforms. But in order to see significant uprisings, every professional and company should specialize in one or a few particular areas. Currently, the most popular categories that our software developers work on are –

• Web development

Web development has been one of the largest contributors to the digital revolution of Bangladesh. A large number of web developers work both as freelancers and professionals at software development companies.

About 50% of the country’s ICT enterprises currently offer web design and development services. As more and more Bangladeshi citizens move towards digitization, the need for web development becomes greater and greater. Companies are leaning towards building an online presence thanks to the growing number of online audiences.

• Mobile app development

People around the world spend a daily average of 3.25 hours on their mobile devices. Not too long ago, mobile phones were considered a rare item, a luxury even. But now, it is a mere necessity for almost everyone in the country who is old enough to own it. Mobile phones assist our social connections, communications, entertainment, and finances thanks to multiple social media apps, greater connectivity features, and other software components embedded into the phone.

Mobile applications can be a great marketing tool for businesses in Bangladesh and most companies seem to have cracked that code already. Because of their handy usability and user-friendly experience, mobile apps enable businesses to retain existing customers and draw in new ones.

Mobile applications meet the needs of both clients and business owners. They make buying and selling of products easier with modern UX and secure payment options like Bkash, Nagad, etc. resulting in more potential sales and happier customers.

What impact did COVID-19 have on the software development scenario in Bangladesh?

According to BASIS, the coronavirus outbreak had a substantial influence on both domestic and foreign markets of software development in Bangladesh. At least 70% of the sector’s overall worth has been lost to the virus.

About 175 BASIS members export software and outsource the development work as their primary business. A Daily Star investigation showed that 74% of international customers ceased making purchases during the Covid-heavy months. This is because the two main markets for Bangladeshi software exports, the United States and Europe, were under attack by the viral pandemic.

However, against a request by BASIS, the Bangladesh government granted software companies in the country BDT 660 crore in April to September of 2020 to help them maintain their operations as well as pay employees’ salaries and office rent.

In a nutshell

It is quite clear that the Bangladesh software industry has the potential to tremendously grow and take the country to level a developed one. The industry can influence the nation’s security, health, and education as well as improve the quality of life for its people.

The Bangladesh government is making investments and building infrastructure, but there is still a long way to go. With enough hard work and perseverance, software developers can have a significant impact in the development of Bangladesh as a globally powerful country.

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