The Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector is growingly becoming the driving force of modern life, not to mention industry and commerce. Ironically, the pandemic situation has been instrumental in taking the ICT-based online services to a new height. In fact, those are now enjoying a greater popularity among a wider section of the public than before. Bangladesh must take hold of this opportunity and jump-start the process of developing a robust ICT-infrastructure base through introducing the most advanced technologies and creating a huge pool of trained professionals in the field.
Such and other relevant issues came up at a recent virtual event in the city where the state minister for ICT division initiated a training programme for Bangladeshi youths on Cloud Computing skills. Such kind of computing is about storing and accessing data and programmes over the 'cloud' (a metaphor for the internet) instead of through one's own computer hard drive. Such arrangement offers faster innovation, flexible resources, and economies of scale. Since the global trend is now going cloud, Bangladesh can ill-afford to stay behind. As such, the report that some 5,000 Bangladeshi youths and professionals are going to receive skills training on cloud computing is highly commendable and something to be enthused about. What is further heartening to learn is that Bangladesh Hi-Tech Park Authority (BHTPA) in collaboration with a local IT firm will engage Microsoft-certified professionals to train the youths and professionals free of cost. What is more, upon completion of the training, successful participants will get what it said 'cloud credit' worth USD100 each, an award that would help them get a waiver on vendor certification examination. The said certification examination will be necessary for the candidates to go through before they can apply for jobs in companies using cloud computing locally as well as abroad. This is indeed yet another piece of news that is apt to lift one's spirits. Hopefully, there would be more such collaborative efforts between government agencies like the HTPA and the private sector to develop the country's human resources in the IT sector to quicken the pace of the nation's march towards joining in the upcoming Fourth Industrial Revolution.
It is worthwhile to note that currently the businesses involving cloud computing in Bangladesh has a total annual turnover of USD13 million. We have some 10,000 professionals in the sector to run the services based on cloud-computing and it is projected to grow by 20 to 25 per cent over the next 3-5 years. But that is not enough for a nation aspiring to become a middle-income economy soon. On this score, one may well draw a comparison between Bangladesh and its next-door neighbour, India. According to NASSCOM (the apex body for Indian IT BPM [Business Process Management] Industry) , the Indian cloud computing market is currently valued at USD2.2 billion and is expected to grow at 30 per cent (year-on-year) to reachUSD7.1 billion by 2022.
Under the circumstances, we would be required to go for a rapid expansion of this branch of the IT sector. To this end, generous public investment in the IT sector would be necessary to incentivise start-ups to jump on the cloud computing bandwagon. Also, expert trainers from abroad should be brought to train a larger army of professionals in cloud computing skills. It is the imperative to act now so we may not fall by the wayside in the race to secure a comfortable space in the emerging cloud computing landscape.