The Bangladesh government has taken initiatives to build an ICT-driven nation comprising of knowledge-based society. In view of this, a country-wide ICT-infrastructure is being developed to ensure access to information by every citizen to facilitate empowerment of people and enhance democratic values and norms for sustainable economic development by using the infrastructure for human resources development, governance, e-commerce, banking, public utility services and all sorts of on-line ICT-enabled services. To achieve these, all required laws and policies are in place. Government has identified ICT as a thrust sector. From a mainly feudal agrarian base, the economy of Bangladesh has undergone rapid structural transformation towards manufacturing and services. The contribution of the agriculture sector to GDP has dwindled from 50 percent in 1972-73 to around 20 percent in 1999-2000.

The agricultural sector is, however, still the main employment provider. The staple crop is rice, with paddy fields accounting for nearly 70% of all agricultural land. Industrial production growth has averaged more than 6% over the last 5 years. The export sector has been the engine of industrial growth, with ready-made garments leading the way, having grown at an average of 30% over the last 5 years. Primary products constitute less than 10 percent of the country's exports; the bulk of exports are manufactured / processed products, ready-made garments and knit wears in particular.

Bangladesh, least developed country, largely an agrarian economy with around 24 million acres of cultivation land employing about 14. 5 million cultivators. Manufacturing industries have grown around Dhaka and Chittagong based on agriculture input of jute, cotton, chemical and gas based industries. GDP grew in the year 2001-02 at a rate of 4. 5% and was projected to grow by 5. 5% in the year 2002-03.

In the year 2001-02 contribution of agriculture is 24. 6%, industry 26. 5% and the balance by services other sectors. It was noted that the share of industrial production in the GDP was growing indicating revival of the economy.

Contribution of industrial sector increased from average 11. 11% in the year 1999-2000 to 25% in 2001-02 and was poised to account for 30% in the year 2002-03. Conducive policies announced by the government for industrial development led to revival of the economy. Figure 1. 1 shows the GDP growth from 1997-2003. To overcome the slowdown in international trade, Bangladesh Government has taken several critical measures.

The private sector has also put its best endeavours to face the situation. To face the severe global competition the local economy had to do cost cutting, improve productivity and efficiency. As a result of which there are signs of improvement in the overall economy. The foreign exchange reserves showed gradual improvement helped by strong growth in remittance inflows from expatriate Bangladeshi's. Inflation measured by the 12-month average increase in consumer price index stood at 2. 39 percent in June 30, 2002 compared to 1.

59 percent in June 30, 2001. Domestic credit grew by 12. 87 percent in 2001-2002 against 17. 65 percent expansion in the previous fiscal year. The increase in domestic credit during the current period was mainly on account of the private sector (13. 95%).

Growth in the government's revenue collection contributed to the containment of expansion in public sector borrowing. Bangladesh's exports during 2002-2003 were US$ 6. 5 billion and imports during US$ 8. 2 billion. Trade deficit declined from US$ 3. 34 billion in 2000-2001 to US$ 2.

64 billon in 2001-2002. Main exports items were woven garments, knitwear, jute goods, leather and leather goods, frozen food, tea and agro-based products. Hosiery and ready made garments accounted for 75% of the exports basket followed by frozen shrimps and fishes, jute and jute products, leather products, etc. IT products and services exports were growing at a rate of 30% however, the base was small of about US$ 50 million.

This sector however was poised to achieve exports of US$ 2 billion by the year 2006. During FY 2001-2002 exports declined by US$ 473. 8 million or 7. 32 percent to US$ 5994. 9 million against exports of US $ 6468. 7 million during FY 2000-2001.

Import payments also declined by US$ 715. 4 million or 8. 53 percent to US$ 7675. 0 million during July, 2001-May, 2002 against imports of US$ 8390.

4 million over the same period of the previous year. Economic Trends Economic Data Annual report 2002 - 2003 Central bank of BangladeshWORKFORCEBangladesh has a huge pool of talented ICT professionals. It is known as source of high quality and competitive labour force in regard to cost. Bangladesh is preparing itself to compete effectively in the global ICT market. As the demand for skilled manpower in ICT is growing world-wide, the country feels the need to produce a large number of ICT professionals.

In the year 2002, 2, 354 students from Public Universities and 1, 625 Students from Private Universities have graduated in Computer Science. Universities, both in the public and private sectors are producing ICT graduates in four-year Computer Science and / or Engineering courses. Government is in the final stage to offer Diploma and Trade courses in ICT will in both public and private institutes including Polytechnics. 17 public and more than 45 private universities offer ICT courses.

Research and Development Most of the Universities in Bangladesh have research and development centres. This as created a favourable infrastructure and condition for development. Bangladesh University of Engineering & Technology (BUET) has formed a separate institution - Bureau of Research, Testing and Consultation (BTRC). Through this institution BUET is offering research and consultation expertise to other organisations of the country. The Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission (BAE C) has the tradition and experience in research and development activities in Nuclear Science and Technology and other related fields over three decades. The Bangladesh Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (B CSIR) was established in 1973.

With the passage of time expansion of the laboratories was felt to meet the need of time and Institute of Fuel Research and Development (IFRD) was established in 1983, Institute of Food Science and Technology (IFRD) in 1985 and Pilot Plant and Process Development Centre (PP&PDC) in 1985. Further to state that establishment of a good number of Regional Laboratories, Centres and Institutes have been proposed to the Government, which may come into reality within a reasonable time. Infrastructure & Quality of Life Bangladesh has about 13, 627 km of metalled roads and highways. The road transport is predominantly in the private sector.

However, the largest road-transport organization namely, Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation, has a big fleet of roadworthy buses and lorries to connect the capital with almost all parts of the countryBiman, the National Air lines of Bangladesh, with its fleet now carries the nation's flag to 8 South Asian destinations, 6 South-East and Far-Eastern destinations, 9 destinations to Gulf and Middle-East region and 6 European and North American points. It also has flights to domestic important cities. Besides, the principal international airport, Zia International Airport in Dhaka is well connected with all international cities through the regular flights of Air India, Aeroflot, British Airways, Emirates, Gulf Air, Iraq Airways, Dragon Air, Myanmar Airways, Kuwait Airways, PIA, Royal Nepal Air Lines, Saudi a, Singapore Air Lines and Thai International. Chittagong and Mong la are the two major seaports of the country with 25 and 5 jetties respectively, handling international trade cargo to the tune of 1.

5 million tons annually. These two ports are well connected with a large number of ports and cities all over the world through the operations of both national and foreign shipping lines Bangladesh Shipping Corporation, the national flag carrier, has 18 vessels having a total tonnage of 2, 67, 663 DWT. It also carries crude and refined oil from the Middle East and Singapore to Bangladesh. The installed total power generating capacity is 4, 368 megawatts. Major industrial cluster areas are covered by electricity.

Recently an extensive programme of rural electrification has been undertaken to bring all the major rural areas under electricity. The domestic power volt is 220-240. More information: Bangladesh Power Development Board With a network of about 4, 440 km, the Bangladesh Railway has 499 stations connecting almost all the administrative and business points of the country. It has adequate capacity of carrying cargo from and to the sea ports.

The introduction of direct inter-city passenger trains has facilitated the movement of people to a great extent Since the year 2000 tourists arriving in Bangladesh have been swelling in numbers. Also traveling further within the country and visiting places like Cox' Bazaar, Tek naf, the Sundar bans, Kua kata, Paharpur and Tetulia. Not only is it international visitors but locals are also taking their holidays and coming to Dhaka, Khulna and Chittagong. All these travelers require appropriate accommodation and the demand in hotel beds and restaurants are now being met for every taste and every budget. Many of the visitors are expatriate Bangladeshi coming to Bangladesh not only to visit their families, but for a holiday and to experience the vibrant and culturally rich country. Catering for all these people have seen an increase in the demand for new hotels and restaurants in Dhaka and other tourist locations..