Oct 29, 2015
Bangladesh is emerging as one of the world’s next great growth opportunities for companies with a keen understanding of the nation’s growing consumer class. Every year, 2 million Bangladeshis join the ranks of middle-class and affluent consumers, and they are highly optimistic about the future, value foreign brands, and are jumping onto the digital bandwagon. These are among the key findings in a new report by The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) titled “Bangladesh: The Surging Consumer Market Nobody Saw Coming” released on the 22nd of this month.
According to a recent report on e-Commerce trends in Bangladesh by the global online marketplace Kaymu, Bangladeshi e-Commerce market is expected to achieve more than 72% growth in e-commerce transactions in the near future. This consensus is based on 10% exponential growth in e-commerce transactions for each passing quarter. The report highlights that e-Commerce is booming in Bangladesh parallel with the country’s digitization programme of the current government, in particular from the growing number of internet users and especially those on mobile devices.
Bloomberg News, in a recent survey, has revised upward the growth forecast for Bangladesh, projecting that the economy is marching ahead to secure a 6.55% growth in the current year. The estimate is the median of forecasts from eminent economists for Bangladesh's economic indicators. Earlier this month, the International Monetary Fund upgraded Bangladesh's economic growth forecast to 6.8% from 6.5% in April and the ADB expressed optimism that the government target of 7% growth is also achievable.
This week, the World Bank, has floated an offer to pour in record amount of money for Bangladesh to remodel and reshape the country’s infrastructure sector. To that end, round of talks are being held and a $1.7 billion loan agreement is expected to be forged between the multilateral lender and the government of Bangladesh next year to fund 11 development projects. Currently, 36 projects are being implemented in the country with funding from World Bank directly.
A major breakthrough in the Cesare Tavella murder case was witnessed on Monday as police in Bangladesh arrested four suspects, three of whom are thought to have been involved with the killing directly. Police managed to track down the motorcycle used by the assailants to escape from the spot after the murder at city's Gulshan area, which has since been confiscated. Fingers are now being pointed at a key leader of BNP's Dhaka city unit now as being the "big brother" who masterminded the killing.
US Department of Homeland Security has maintained that Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) is a Tier-III terrorist organization. The point has arisen in respect of two litigations in USA, one of which has ruled that BNP is not a terrorist organization while another court in Louisiana has ruled that indeed they are such an organization. Md. Shahriar Alam, Bangladesh's State Minister for Foreign Affairs has commented that the entire episode is "embarrassing" for Bangladesh as a country on the international stage.
As part of intensified government efforts to turn around the lives of impoverished people an initiative has been endorsed aiming to develop skills of a total of 30,000 youths in 20 upazilas. Initiated in 2010, the NSP, a far-reaching promise of the Awami League government, was operative in 19 upalizals and later extended to 25 more upazilas across the country. In last six years, the government has overseen poverty rate slashing down to 22.4% while the hard-core hunger was brought down to nearly 12%.
In a landmark move to narrow the digital divide and create a new horizon, French company Thales Alenia Space has been awarded the job of launching Bangladesh's first satellite by December 2017, marking the victory day of the country. When the satellite goes operational, it will take broadcasting and telecommunication services to rural areas and introduce profitable services, including direct-to-home services, across the country. Envisaged by the present government, this initiative will infuse a major boost in the nation’s march to transform into a technologically advanced nation by 2021.
The outflow of tourists in Bangladesh is expected to hit a newer height as an ambitious move has been rolled out by the government to initiate inter-country riverine tourism through trans-border river channels between Bangladesh and India. A river protocol, to this end, will be signed soon between the neighbouring countries. Efforts are also underway to place Bangladesh in the Buddhist tourist circuit and launch ocean going ship for initiating inter regional cruise tourism to make 2016 as tourism year a successful one.
An array of new criteria regarding formation of safety committees in readymade garment factories will come to effect soon in compliance with the requirement of the recently-framed labour law rules. Under the law, trade union leaders will nominate the workers' representatives while workers' participation committee will do the same if there is no registered trade union in factories. Safety committees will be formed in some 20 selected factories initially on a pilot basis by December 2015.
Lives in the recently defunct 111 enclaves will be get modern amenities as the government is going to develop infrastructures in all the 111 newly defunct Indian enclaves that are now parts of Bangladesh, investing US$ 24.7 million. Under the project various infrastructures, including six km upazila road, 17 km union parishad-level road, 168 km village road, 700 metre bridges and culverts, 12 growth centres, and canals, mosques and temples would be developed.
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) will provide US$30 million for funding feasibility study on upgrading Bangladesh's eight roads and a major rail route to connect with regional corridors.This additional amount will be laid out to support feasibility study and detailed design of transport projects. The works include the four-laning of 600-kilometre-long eight national and regional highways, and dual-gauge conversion of Dhaka-Chittagong-Cox's Bazar railway corridor among others.
Steller progress is being made in launching the infrastructure development project for Payra Deep Seaport with the aim of running its activities on a limited scale. The physical infrastructural development is expected to facilitate the unloading activities initially at Payra Deep Seaport that has been planned to start in December this year through bringing commercial vessels in outer anchorage. Moreover, 5.60-kilometre four-lane road from Rajpara to Payra port would be constructed to establish link with the national highway.
The government has announced plans to construct a 695km road soon along the country's border, a move to help border guards play an important role in stopping arms and drugs smuggling, human trafficking to and from neighbouring countries. Moreover, the widening of Chittagong-Cox's Bazar Highway into four lanes would also start soon. In a related development, an agreement was signed to build a 1,238 meter long flyover at Bhulta on Dhaka-Sylhet highway and upgrade Dhaka-Sylhet highway.
State Minister for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources, Nasrul Hamid has explained recently in details why the Rampal Power Plant will not harm the environment around Sundarbans. He said modern ultra-super thermal technology would be used in the plant and no environment depleting substance would be discharged from plants. Moreover a 275 feet long chimney would be used for emitting smoke from plant. These measures, among others, would ensure no harm is being caused to the surrounding environment.
Hopes are on the horizon that Bangladesh will begin the main construction of the 2,400-megawatt Rooppur nuclear power plant, first in the country’s history, from 2017 spending around $13.5 billion. Of the cost, $12 billion will come from the Russian government in loans and the rest from the Bangladesh side. This week, a delegation of Russia's state-owned energy company held a meeting with government officials in the capital. In addition, preparatory work to build the plant is underway under a $500-million technical assistance for Russia.
Aiming to expand e-agriculture in rural areas, the government has taken an initiative to set up 254 ICT-driven Agriculture Information and Communication Centers (AICCs) in 254 upazilas for disseminating agricultural information among farmers. A total of 254 farmers' clubs had been chosen based on communications facilities, availability of electricity and clubs' own houses from 14,000 farmers' associations to turn those as ICT-based AICCs. The move will contribute towards boosting the country's farm output.
A $5.8 million cooperative agreement has been awarded to Michigan State University (MSU) to improve potato production in Bangladesh and Indonesia. As part of the project, MSU will partner with the University of Minnesota and Idaho-based J.R. Simplot Comp., along with in-country partners in both Bangladesh and Indonesia, to make improved potato varieties available to smallholder farmers. Such varieties can help protect against yield loss and improve livelihoods for those who depend on the crop to survive.
The central bank launched a US$300 million investment fund for helping the country attain maximum economic growth through accelerated productive activity. This project will improve financial market infrastructure of the country, regulatory and oversight capacity of Bangladesh Bank and access to long-term financing mainly for manufacturing firms in Bangladesh. Small and medium-scale manufacturing enterprises in the country are entitled to receive this assistance.
Bangladesh will soon ratify the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) of WTO to make trading easier through simplifying existing rules on customs and tariff. Already signed by 50 nations, implementation of the TFA has the potential to increase global merchandise exports by up to $1 trillion a year. If the TFA is fully implemented, developing countries could increase the number of new products being exported by as much as 20% while the least developed countries are likely to see a much bigger hike of up to 35%.
Pierre Mayaudon, EU ambassador to Bangladesh, has renewed his pledge to stand beside Bangladesh in dealing with the adverse impacts of climate change, saying that developed countries should make contributions to Bangladesh in this regard. Recently, a new 8 million Euro project for Bangladesh has just been approved in Brussels for providing support for enhancing communities' resilience to climate change and related disasters and access to space satellite images was also opened for the country.
Many disaster management related issues such as responsibilities in facing natural disaster, earthquake and climate change impacts, have been incorporated in the textbooks of Bangladesh to create awareness among the new generation. The adverse impacts of climate change have been highlighted in 31 books and 5,000 teachers of primary and secondary level will be given training to teach students about the contents of these books at schools across the country.
Digital Bangladesh
According to the government statistics, around 23% of total mobile phone users availed MFS as registered customer as of June 2015 as against only 0.50% in 2012 . MFS has enormously contributed to rural-urban fund flow as efforts are being made to popularise mobile money as a viable alternative to physical and plastic money. Currently, 20 banks in the country have been providing mobile financial services which is also known as mobile banking with 29.21 million registered customers through 0.5 million agents.
Newly introduced international standardized IT Engineers Examination (ITEE) opened doors to international job market for Bangladeshi IT professionals as Framgia, a Vietnam based Japanese IT Company, recently recruited ITEE certified IT graduates from Bangladesh. The government has introduced the examination in the country last year with an objective to give international branding to Bangladeshi IT professionals to get international jobs around the world.
Bangladesh Awami League Bangladesh Insight Archives