ICT-Driven Knowledge Economy in Bangladesh
Information and Communication Technologies (herein referred to as ICT) consist of hardware, software, networks, and media for collection, storage, processing transmission, and presentation of information in the form of voice, data, text, and images. They range from the telephone, radio and television to the Internet (World Bank 2003a, and 2003b). Today’s economy depends on the increased flow of ideas and information across firms, organizations, governments, and countries nationally and internationally. In the developed countries, ICTs have been the drivers of economic growth (see Jorgenson and Stiroh, 2001, Oliner and Sichel, 2000, Stiroh 2002). Recent economic growth in China and India indicates that increases in technological capabilities are the driving forces behind knowledge and innovation (Evoh, 2007). Thus, with the advancement of ICT, now-a-days knowledge has become a factor of production. Over the last decades though the countries like China, India, and Malaysia have made remarkable progress in exploiting ICT in their socio-economic development, Bangladesh has virtually lagged behind these countries. ICT infrastructure has virtually remained poor and inadequate. Therefore, the challenge for Bangladesh is how to develop its ICT infrastructure to provide access to advanced information services in order to create a knowledge-based society and remain competitive in the world of information and communication technology. This research article is aimed at addressing those issues and concerns that affect the creation of an ICT-based knowledge economy in the country. The study will contribute to the literature since ICT-driven knowledge economy in a developing country like Bangladesh is an area, which has not yet been widely researched and validated. The assumption is that ICT will enable this country to experiment with emerging tools, models and ideas for building their societies (leveraging opportunities with leapfrogging) as the dynamics of an ICT-based knowledge are better understood. It means that if the citizens of the country are well equipped with the knowledge, qualifications, and skills of ICT, bypassing heavy infrastructure building it is possible for a country to transform itself directly into a knowledge economy. If we look at India and its $17 billion share of global offshore Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) market (Kasbeakar, 2005), it becomes easy to see the attraction and follow the line of thinking of transforming the country into a knowledge economy. The purpose of this study is, then, twofold: first it investigates into the constraints and issues that ICT industry of Bangladesh faces in creating a knowledge society. Second, it suggests measures how to remove these constraints to knowledge development. 2. Background Of The Study
Formerly East Pakistan, Bangladesh came into being in 1971, when the two parts of Pakistan split after a nine-month long bitter civil war, which drew in neighboring India. With 150 million people in an area of 55,598 square miles, Bangladesh is now the eighth largest in the world in population with high density (CIA World Fact Book, 2008). With such a large population, poverty is rampant, and there is a lack of educational and medical resources. Political strife since its inception in the 1970s has also made the country one of the poorest. The adult literacy rate is 43.1 percent (53.9 percent for males) and the average life expectancy at birth is 64 years (CIA World Fact Book, 2008). The county is trying to diversify its economy, with industrial development a priority. As a result the growth of industrial sector averaged 8.25 percent during 2001-02 to 2006-07, compared with 2.1 percent growth rate in the agriculture sector over the same period (Mansur 2008). This indicates the transition of Bangladesh from agrarian economy to industrial economy (manufacturing and services). For sustaining this...
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