Many see Bangladesh as a 'market’ of over 30 million middle- and affluent-class people and a ‘development miracle’. To me, our strengths are the societal values and peoples’ trust in Bangladesh. Equally, peoples’ aspiration to progress and their resilience as well as their confidence in our leadership. My father, the Father of our Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, dreamt of a Sonar Bangla, an exploitation-free and just society. His vision gives us the confidence to move with our vision to advance Bangladesh as a developing country by 2021 and a developed country by 2041.
Bangladesh is quickly moving to a high-value, knowledge-intensive society, beyond apparel manufacturing. Last year, we exported 12 industrial robots to Korea. Four ships made in Bangladesh have come to India. Recently, Reliance purchased a large quantity of refrigerators made in Bangladesh. Bangladesh also has 600,000 IT freelancers – the largest freelancing community. This all speaks to a quiet transformation where people have taken risks and faced challenges by becoming more innovative and adopting technology. It is time that global investors, particularly Indian entrepreneurs, invest in Bangladesh in areas like education, light engineering, electronics, the automotive industry and artificial intelligence – beyond the conventional menu.
Bangladesh is urbanizing fast. By 2030, 48% of our population will live in towns and cities. Most will be young, energetic and digitally connected. They will be agile, receptive to new ideas and look for new ways of creating wealth. In fact, this is already happening with over 110 million active internet subscribers in Bangladesh. By 2025, mobile internet penetration will reach 41% population. Rapid urbanization, fed by increasing consumption of electricity and more than 30 million middle class citizens, is indeed a huge market.