At least nine companies, including Walton, have stepped up to make big investments in high-tech parks for manufacturing and assembling mobile handsets, producing computer parts, and offering state-of-the-art IT services.
The Bangladesh Hi-Tech Park authority at a programme on Thursday announced that seven companies at the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Hi-Tech Park in Kaliakair and two at Sheikh Hasina Software Technology Park in Jashore will initially invest around $55 million.
All will have the opportunity to invest for 40 years. There will be a number of facilities for investors at the hi-tech parks ranging from a 10-year tax break to duty-free machinery imports to tax exemption on foreign experts' earnings.
The nine companies are Walton Hi-Tech Industries Limited, Technomedia Limited, Daffodil Computers Limited, Celltron Electro Manufacturing Services Limited, Ulkasemi Pvt Limited, Mactel Limited, Child Health Research Foundation, Reddot Digital, and Felicity BigData Limited. Around 3,500 jobs will be created in the tech park by the firms.
The high-tech park authority also recognised Halima Telecom Industries in Cumilla, which has been in operation since 2010, as a private high-tech park.
Earlier, 166 local and foreign companies, such as Walton, Rangs, Fair Electronics, Vision, KDS, Nasdaq Technologies, Elion International, Business Automation and JR Enterprise, were allotted plots for investing $118 million.
Besides, City Group has announced an investment of Tk5,000 crore at a private high-tech park.
Some other companies, including Walton, Samsung and Minister, have invested large amounts after having secured permission for developing their own high-tech parks.
Planning Minister MA Mannan was present as the chief guest of the signing ceremony at a city hotel, while State Minister for Information and Communication Junaid Ahmed Palak graced the event as a special guest.
The planning minister congratulated the companies that signed the agreement and asked them to ensure quality.
Dr Bikarna Kumar Ghosh, managing director at Bangladesh Hi-Tech Park, said they target around Tk4,000 in investments from all the companies. Oryx-Biotech Limited has already decided to invest Tk300 crore at the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Hi-Tech Park in Kaliakair.
Walton Hi-Tech Industries Limited got 3.1 acres of land under the hardware company category. The company will invest $6.50 million in manufacturing ITES (Information Technology Enabled Services) and digital devices, while creating 1,550 job opportunities.
Golam Murshed, managing director at Walton, told The Business Standard that their acquisition of plots in the high-tech park was part of its business expansion.
They will initially set up a research centre there and they also have a plan to install a digital innovation park, he added.
Ulkasemi Pvt Limited, a Silicon Valley-based Bangladeshi initiative, has come up with a big surprise as it made a $25 million investment proposal at the Bangabandhu high-tech city in designing high quality semiconductors.
Anthoni D Silva, programme manager at Ulkasemi, said, "The global market of semiconductors amounts to $456 billion. There is demand for it in Bangladesh too. Only two companies work on semiconductors here but neither of them is in chip manufacturing. Ulkasemi will be the first to do so."
"Some 250 skilled workers are working in our company. Our new investment in the high-tech park will create 500 new job," he added.
Moreover, Technomedia Limited got 0.87 acres of land at Bangabandhu Hi-Tech Park where they will invest $2.50 million to assemble ATM, CRM and RCDM machines while creating 200 jobs.
Khurshed Alam, chief operating officer at Technomedia, said, "We are the biggest supplier of ATM machines in Bangladesh as we meet 85% of the country's demand. Our assembly of such machines will make them cheaper."
Daffodil Computers Limited was given 96 acres of land where they will invest $3 million and create 100 jobs to manufacture and assemble electronic devices.
Mohammad Nuruzzaman, Group CEO at Daffodil Family, said, "We want to start manufacturing laptops and tabs from this year. Our infrastructure development will be completed within the next six months. Our investment will increase in the future."
Meanwhile, Celltron Electro Manufacturing Services Limited was allotted 65 acres of land that set up a medical technology plant to assemble and produce medical equipment with an investment worth $7 million while creating 250 jobs.
Sheikh Mohammad Fauzul Mubin, managing director of Celltron, said, "Our main focus is on manufacturing medical equipment such as ECG and blood pressure monitors."
To assemble smartphones, Mactel Limited got 1.37 acres of land to invest $6 million and create 332 jobs.
On the other hand, Reddot Digital and Felicity BigData Limited were allotted 21 and 45 acres of land respectively at the Sheikh Hasina Software Technology Park in Jashore.
In the meantime, Halima Group was recognised as a private high-tech park. The group has presently eight companies since its journey in 2010. The companies are Halima Telecom, Halima Electronics, Halima Traders, Halima World, HTE, Nuclei Global, Tip Accessories and most recently Halima Mobile.
"Our six-storey building has been recognised as the private high-tech park where we manufacture mobile phones and batteries," Chairman of Halima Group Abul Kalam Hasan Tagar told TBS.
The Bangladesh Hi-Tech Park Authority is establishing hi-tech parks, software technology parks and IT training and incubation centres throughout the country to attract local and foreign investors for the development of hi-tech and IT/ITES industries which are creating employment opportunities and producing skilled workers.
Hi-tech parks offer opportunities to invest in the hi-tech industry and promote businesses that are knowledge- and capital-based. Information technology, software technology, biotechnology, renewable energy, green technology, IT hardware, IT-enabled services and research and development, etc. are major areas of investment in the hi-tech industry in Bangladesh.
Currently, eight hi-tech parks, including Bangabandhu Hi-Tech City, are ready for investment, while three more are awaiting inauguration.
Apart from this, the government has recognised two factories of electronics giant Walton as hi-tech parks.
Samsung's Narsangdi and Minister Group's Gazipur factories are also getting the same facility. These factories are enjoying the zero-tariff facility on imports of all kinds of equipment apart from enjoying tax-holiday for 10 years.