Dhaka – Describing the shortage of skilled manpower as the ” biggest challenge” for Bangladesh’s further development in the IT sector, Prime Minister’s Information and Communication Technology Advisor Sajeeb Wazed Joy has said the government targeted to train up 75,000 professionals in the sector in the next three years to solve the problem.
“The biggest challenge that Bangladesh is facing in the IT sector development is shortage of skilled manpower as the country could not develop enough IT labour force that it needs…the number is limited,” he said in an interview with CeBIT Podcast in Germany on Thursday.
“Keeping this in mind our government has set a target to train up 75,000 IT professionals within next three years but that is a fraction in comparison to the garment sector where millions of manpower are employed…you know that students studying in the relevant subject needs three or four years to complete the course. We are trying to catch up them,” he added.
Joy is now in Hanover, Germany for attending the Centre for Office Automation, Information Technology and Telecommunication (CeBIT) Expo.
While commenting on the much-talked-about “hacking issue”, Joy said the exact number of hacking that took place in Bangladesh is very hard to determine, but the Kaspersky Group, the leading security solution provider in the world, ranked Bangladesh as the No. 1 country in terms of the target of the hackers.
“I think the probable reason behind this is we have been digitized at the fastest rate. We are digitizing government services…our focus is on digitizing fast,” he said.
The PM’s ICT adviser further said his policy is clear as let’s get it digitized…let’s get it done efficiently and quickly possible.
“To thwart the hackers, we are looking at upgrading our system to version 2 (two), because many of our system is still version 1 (one) and they are the much more target of the hackers,” he said.
Joy said the country has in the common line and the more and more companies as well as the government services have been digitized. “The growth (of the country) is bigger, unfortunately the target (of the hackers) is also bigger,” he said.
He said sufficient experts did not exist in the country when it developed (IT) system in the country. “So we had to hire foreign experts that cost 10 times,” he said.
Joy said 80 percent of digitization in Bangladesh was undertaken by local companies. But it was exception in the national ID cards and bank digitization that were done by the foreign firms, he said.
He said the digitization of Bangladesh Bank where the country’s first major hacking took place was a project undertaken by the World Bank and implemented by a foreign firm. “But other government services did not face such a major hacking,” he said.
Terming IT training as “very critical” for further flourishing the sector, Joy said the government has taken initiatives to impart training to the youths on IT and web development as well as mobile applications.
“IT training is very critical and the young people can pick up the technology in any way,” he said.
After setting up infrastructure, he said, the next level is IT training side by side with digitization. Since there was no IT industry, IT skills did not exist in Bangladesh, he added.
The PM’s ICT advisor said the government does not want to send students abroad simply because it’s not cost effective, it costs much more. Our government has been providing training to the people within the country.
Joy said the government has been spurring the experts to go abroad for study and work in Bangladesh after coming back. “We have set up a PPP cell, where we employed expatriate Bangladeshis at high salary much beyond the government pay scale. We are giving various incentives to them to work for the country,” he said.
Putting emphasis on strengthening connectivity, he said, the country’s connectivity is very poor as the international connectivity consists of lone submarine cable which anytime got cut that would make offline the entire country.
“We will have to expand the connectivity quickly,” he said.
Joy said the country is now connected through India, while the work on connecting Bangladesh with the second submarine cable is underway. “We are encouraging the private sector to start laying fibre optic throughout the country… we formed a committee and are working with the private sector to expand fibre optic at union level, which is our smallest local government,” he said.
Joy said the government already auctioned 3G spectrum among the mobile phone operators and their network expansion is taking place fast. “We are also in the process of introducing technologies so that some of the wireless service providers could start providing 4G services”, he added.
He said Bangladesh is now in the process of complete revolution in the digital area. Seven years ago nothing was digital…IT industry did not exist, connectivity was poor and bandwidth was very expensive as 1 MB cost 1000 dollars at that time, he said.
The rate of internet penetration was only .3 percent seven years ago. But now 35 percent population has been brought under the penetration due to implementing the pledge the government made seven years back.
He said one of the election manifestoes and one of the promises to the people was to create Digital Bangladesh. The vision was digitize the government services and make those cost effective for the people as well as develop IT industry and increase IT exports, Joy said.
Joy said though the country’s economy is dependent on RMG sector, the government goal is now to make IT one of the “alternative and diversified way” from the garment sector to give economy something else. – BSS