‘We have failed to create scopes for local IT companies’
Published : 14 Jun 2016, 10:02:53
Ujjal A Gomes
Mustafa Jabbar, an eminent personality in the arena of information and communication technology of the country. He is the inventor of Bengali typing software popularly known as 'Bijoy'. He is the author of textbooks for secondary and higher secondary level computer learning. He is a pioneer in the concept of Digital Bangladesh and has been working in ICT sector of the country since 1987.
Mustafa Jabbar is leading a panel in 2016-19 session election of the organisation of software manufacturers and exporters association ‘Bangladesh Association of Software and Information Services (BASIS)’ scheduled to be held on June 25.
He recently had a discussion on the upcoming BASIS polls with the bbarta24.net in an exclusive interview.
bbarta24.net: Why is this year’s election so important for BASIS?
Mustafa Jabbar: First of all, election is a normal process. In the case of BASIS, the election seems a little more important because the time that we are now passing is import for the whole country. We started the process to implement Digital Bangladesh in 2009.The primary tasks have been done effectively. Now, we need proper leadership. If you do not have the right leadership, the implementation process of Digital Bangladesh would not move fast as required. So it is very important for BASIS to get proper leadership. BASIS is an important business organisation. I think, as a leading organisation, it is important to have right leadership in it. However, voters will pick the right leadership.
bbarta24net: Tell us something about BASIS?
Mustafa Jabbar: I am related with BASIS from its birth. I am one of those members of BASIS who have been involved with the organisation from its beginning. Even I was involved with BASIS when the process to form the organiation was going on. A committee led by Jamilur Reza Chowdhury was formed to organise BASIS, which placed 45 recommendations.
Before the Awami League government, a committee was formed under the commerce ministry which recommended forming a separate trade body for software services sector. In 1997 we submitted it to the then government. To implement the recommendation, we undertook measures at the end of 1997 and later BASIS was born in 1998.
Incidentally, at that time I was the president of the Computer Samity. If any other organisation in the sector has the trade rules, new organisation in the sector cannot be created. In that case, it is needed to take clearance from the organisation. We took the responsibility to receivde clearance. If the Computer Samity did not give the clearance, BASIS had not been born. From then, I am the founder vice-president of BASIS. Tawfiq Bhai was the president and we worked with him. I worked as a director during 2003-2004.Under the leadership of Bangladesh Computer Association, the customs and VAT on local computer have been withdrawn.
I think we failed to put emphasis on our domestic market. In our country, we have failed to create scopes for local companies to take control of the country’s growing ICT market. Tremendous amount of work is going on in this field in our country, but most of the job is being done by foreign firms. There could be many reasons why local firms are not getting the job. One reason is we have never focused on this point. If Bangladeshi firms can do these jobs the strength of BASIS members will increase in may folds.
We should stand united and demand that all the domestic jobs should be given to BASIS members. This initiative will create a huge ICT market for the BASIS members.
Also, this is a skill-based industry and we should put emphasis on developing new talent.
Another reason is that local firms cannot bid for these big projects although there are many big companies in the country who are skilled and eligible to do these kinds of tasks. Thus, it is necessary to bring changes in the policy.
bbarta24.net: How would you evaluate your panel members?
Mustafa Jabbar: The panel I am leading has four members who are already in the BASIS executive committee. They have experience and they are in the panel for keeping the process continuous to achieve the goal.
I have long experience in this field and during this extended period I have work for a specific goal. I have worked to introduce software in Bangladesh.
Secondly, team work is needed for realizing the high goals of BASIS. With my 29-year of experience and knowledge of the industry I have formed the committee.
I think an awareness programme should be taken to develop skilled people. Also I have worked for receiving incentive and to make software acceptable to people.
If you notice you will see that software worth hundreds of crore is being imported from foreign countries. Why these are not developed in Bangladesh?
You would be surprised to know that software worth taka 100 crore is imported when the same software would cost less than taka 10 crore if that was developed in the country. I want to highlight that we are dependable and better than any other country.
We can focus on providing software at people’s doorsteps. Second thing I want to want to work with is introducing digital education system. I think there are two vital things of education—one is how to teach and on what. And the other on is developing skilled people. If people are trained through digital system, Bangladesh will see a new horizon. Thus both the fields have huge opportunities.
There is another place I want to work is that bringing change in the government system. Connectivity and digitisatiion of all the unions should be kept in mind. This is just a beginning. I want to make the whole system digital.
I have come to fight. I will start this fight again. I want to use BASIS as my platform in this fight.
bbarta24.net: Do you have any message for the BASIS voters?
Mustafa Jabbar: I think BASIS members are very knowledgeable. They are fighters. I respect them as my colleagues in building Digital Bangladesh. What they need is guidance and advice. They need one kind of support, an incentive. We need to face all the barriers and remove them.
I want to tell the BASIS voters that no one can be successful alone. You need teamwork. I would like to tell the voters to cast their vote for me so that I can lead the country’s software industry.