Bangladesh’s IT services exports crossed the $ 300 million mark as the coronavirus pandemic boosted global demand for data processing, hosting and consulting services.
Local IT companies and freelancers have seen an increased number of orders from customers around the world since the crisis erupted as customers have had to rely more on digital tools to adapt to work-from-home practices.
The industry grossed $ 303.76 million in fiscal year 2020-2021, up 10% year-over-year, according to data from the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB).
The higher profits were derived from IT services such as data processing, hosting, consulting, installation and maintenance.
Revenue from the sale of computer services such as data processing and hosting increased about 27% to $ 217 million.
Computer consulting services grossed $ 24.07 million, up from $ 20.31 million a year ago. And he continued to maintain the rise.
In July, IT services export revenues tripled to $ 78 million, from $ 23 million a year ago.
“At the start of the pandemic, exports of IT and IT services plunged,” said Syed Almas Kabir, president of the Bangladesh Software and Information Services Association (BASIS).
“But when economies around the world started to reopen after a few months, foreign companies started outsourcing and our freelancers were taking a lot of orders.”
Bangladesh companies have now started to secure high value-added tasks such as graphics, Internet of Things and artificial intelligence, and the hourly rate for the work is higher.
“This can also be attributed to the increase in exports of IT services,” Kabir said. The entrepreneur estimated IT services’ annual export earnings at over $ 1 billion, which is well above EPB figures.
“This is because the government figures do not correctly include freelance earnings, and many service providers bring in the export earnings through non-bank channels.”
For the growing export orders, many IT companies have hired new employees and many young people have found employment in the sector.
Computer software exports have taken a heavy hit as they fell 30% year-on-year to $ 47.44 million in 2020-2021. Profit was $ 73 million in 2019-2020.
Kabir blamed the closure of offices in Europe because of the lockdowns on software exports.
“Many work orders have been canceled and suspended. Payments have not been cleared, so many local businesses have been affected,” he said.
Thanks to the recovery in global demand for e-commerce and fintech platforms, some software exporters were inundated with orders in the second half of the last fiscal year.
More than 225 Bangladeshi companies export software to more than 80 countries, according to Rashad Kabir, managing director of Dream71 Bangladesh Ltd.
The software developer has won several international tenders and its revenue has also increased during the pandemic.
“The actual exports are much higher than the data we got from the EPB. Besides the software companies, there are around 6 lakhs of freelancers whose income was not reflected in the official figure,” Rashad said. , also director of BASIS. .
Ferdous Ahmad Shaon, managing director of Cefalo Bangladesh Ltd, a software exporter focused on the European market, said the first months of the pandemic posed a major challenge as many orders were cut as many customers had to temporarily close. their activities.
“But since the start of this year, we have seen positive growth that we have never seen,” he said.
Cefalo has hired more than 50 people in the past six to seven months to meet growing orders.
“Businesses around the world have realized that digitization is an important tool in dealing with the pandemic. Each entity has increased its investments for the development of things related to IT,” Shaon said.
“So we are expanding our existing teams. We have acquired seven to eight new customers. “
The most significant growth has occurred in the area of financial technology, and Cefalo is developing related applications for the European market.
The company is currently working on online food ordering systems for Europe and has received an order to automate hotels.
Export revenues for computer and peripheral equipment installation, maintenance and repair services fell about 50% year-on-year to $ 5.85 million in the year 21.