Bangladesh is well on its way to becoming a global gadget-making hub thanks to a competent workforce that is available at a competitive wage coupled with a rapidly-increasing demand within the domestic market. With a population of 160 million and a GDP growth four times that of the United States it is about time that the international public stands up and takes note of Bangladesh, which is home to the most densely-populated city in the world.
Development is happening fast
Online grocery trader Chaldal is in talks to raise $3 million from the International Finance Corporation (IFC) while Ant Financial has bought a 49% stake in bKash. Global industry tech giants Samsung have also started producing mobile phones in the country, following the example of local manufacturing entities such as Aamra, Walton, and Symphony. Thanks to these companies an impressive variety of electronic gadgets such as sound systems, and smartphones are being produced in the country. The government of Bangladesh has even gone as far as to implement decreased duty costs on the import of raw materials destined for the tech industry, as well as providing cash incentives and tax discounts in a bid to help the industry bloom.
A large population the driving force behind tech sales
One of the biggest driving forces behind the technology manufacturing boom in Bangladesh is the country’s population. As many as 80 million individuals are under the age of 25 which is the age bracket that makes the most tech-orientated purchases. Every year in excess of $1.5 billion worth of laptops and related gadgets are sold in the country. Of this, nearly $1.18 billion in sales come from cellphones while laptops equated to approximately $300 million. The youth are giving the industry an immense boost, necessitating it to expand rapidly in order to keep up with the growing demand.
Hi-tech parks planned to attract investors
At present, the Bangladesh government is in the process of developing 28 hi-tech parks that are set for completion by 2020. The main purpose of the parks is to attract foreign direct investment in both the software and hardware manufacturing industry. A number of these parks are already focusing on the manufacturing and exporting of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) products – a very smart move considering that smartphone penetration is expected to reach 80% over the next few years. Zunaid Ahmed Palad, the State Minister for the ICT Division stated that the government aims to earn in excess of $5bn annually and create a minimum of 1 million jobs by 2021 within the industry.
Things are undoubtedly looking up for the economy in Bangladesh. At the current rate of development, it would not be surprising if the small tropical country will soon be able to give Silicon Valley a run for its money.
Author: Jenny Holt