Empowering the third world with Computer Science

Mubinur Alam

A programming language for the Bengali speakers

The language was formally launched on Saturday evening at an event hosted by the IT firm Joomshaper in Dhanmondi, Dhaka. Potaka, which is in Beta version 1.0, is the brainchild of Ikrum Hossain, a software engineer currently with Telenor.

Speaking at the launching event, Ikrum Hossain described how the inspiration for Potaka came to him from the difficulties he faced in learning programming from outside Dhaka. Ikrum and the other programmers contributing to Potaka pointed out that not understanding the English language was a big part of why many students were afraid of programming.

The language can be seen at www.potaka.io. The website contains an editor with syntax highlighting, built-in Avro phonetic typing and autocomplete functions. It also hosts some learning games that the developers hope will make it enjoyable for young learners to pick up the language.

A parser and some interesting examples can also be found at: github.com/ikrum/potaka. "After a stable release, we will begin accepting code from everyone. Meanwhile we encourage you to try out the code and give us feedback" Ikrum said.

-From The Dhaka Tribune

What does it really mean for Bangladesh?

It means that there will be more people who will be learning Computer Science. It means there will be more opportunity for more younger people who knows how to read bengali to get into coding.

I think this is a great opportunity for the Bangladeshi labour fouce to snatch the outsourcing market from India.

Bangladesh has a huge proportion of young people graduating college with STEM degrees and not finding jobs. Like Bangladesh had it's success with the garments industry it can also have it's success with the tech industry.

Public Private
Number of Institutions 28 54
Enrolment 86,922 68,086
Source: World Bank

Role of the government

Emerging Asian countries like India, China, Malaysia, etc. have opted for digitisation to exploit opportunities offered by the Digital Age and catch up with technologically advanced countries. These countries have heavily invested in IT sectors, reaping considerable benefits in higher employment/income, and accelerating growth. For example, continuous growth of the IT sector in Malaysia, fully supported by the government, has created 800 new IT companies with over 98,000 new jobs, while 200 foreign companies have set up regional centres in Malaysia, bringing billions of dollars in investment and creating significant new jobs. Indian IT industry growth was spurred by huge foreign investment, contributing significantly to India's GDP growth. It is estimated that the outsourcing sector has a worldwide market of USD 500 billion; India's share is USD 140 billion compared to Bangladesh's USD 700 million.

Bangladesh can draw on experiences of these countries to design and implement a rapid IT promotion strategy tailored to her own resources/objectives. The government can consider the following strategy to compliment the ongoing 'Digital Bangladesh', which will accelerate the IT industry and utilise this sector as a platform for sustainable growth. Through injecting a major investment of USD 1.0 billion over five years (USD 200 million per year), the government can accelerate progress in this sector. This strategy can intensify efforts in specific areas: (a) Speeding up IT training/skills; (b) Actively attracting international IT companies/investors (Google, Intel, etc.) to establish IT centres (R&D, Service); and (c) Helping Bangladeshi entrepreneurs to start IT companies by providing funds/incubation, sales/business development/marketing support.

-From The Daily Star

Top Startups from Bangladesh
Light Castle Partners
Buckets Engineer
Parallax Logic
Lidia May
Source: Techinasia.com

Hope is in the air

There's definitely a lot of potential for the country. In the next 20 years it's supposed to climb up as 32nd largest econmy in the world. The tech revolution in Bangladesh is not far behind.


The Daily star
World Bank
The Dhaka Tribune