Africa a potential market for software companies

10 Feb Africa a potential market for software companies

Africa could be a prospective market for Bangladesh’s software companies as the demand for locally developed IT solutions is increasing gradually in the world’s second-largest continent, entrepreneurs say.

To use the untapped potential, Dream71 Bangladesh Ltd has started exporting software to some West African countries from the central African country.

The leading Bangladeshi software and app developer has recently teamed up with a local partner in Cameroon to do business in the continent where DataSoft Systems Bangladesh made foray into two years ago.

In May this year, Dream71 struck an agreement with Melt Group, a company specialising in recruitment, selection, workforce management, staffing and professional training, for various ventures in Africa.

Melt Group has presence in 11 countries with 16 branch offices. The company will use Dream71’s software, Peoplebook HR, to hire employees, maintain log and carry out other human resource activities, said Rashad Kabir, managing director of the Bangladeshi company.

“We have incorporated the tax policies in the 11 countries in the software so that it becomes helpful to any of their offices,” said Kabir, who recently travelled to Cameroon to attend the formal launch of the software.

The software will also be used in Nigeria, Gabon, and Congo and in other countries where Melt Group has offices, employing 5,000 people, he said.

“Definitely, this is a very big achievement for us as well as for Bangladesh. This is a sign that Bangladeshi companies are gradually achieving a leading position in the ICT sector,” he said.

“At the same time, we, as a nation, are not only developing our country, we are contributing to the development of other countries.”

Kabir declined to give the value of the contract.

Africa is the world’s fastest-growing continent for software developers, according to an article published on the business news website Quartz last month.

“For us, opening up the opportunity is the main achievement, especially in this case. We really don’t bother about the price of the deal,” Kabir said.

He said 95 percent work in Cameroon and other countries in the region are carried out manually so the opportunity is huge.

“There is no established local firm in the country. Besides, there are many local people who studied computer sciences in Bangladesh.”

Dream71 has previously worked with companies in Japan, South Korea, the Netherlands, the United Arab Emirates and 14 other countries.

In October 2017, DataSoft inked an agreement with the Ministry of Transport and Communication Channels of the Democratic Republic of Congo to advise and install Internet of Things-based toll management solutions for its Matadi Bridge, becoming the first Bangladeshi software company to make entry into the continent.

Posts and Telecom Minister Mustafa Jabbar said it is good news for Bangladesh that local companies are doing well abroad.

“Africa is an untapped market and we can explore it and it can help boost our earnings from the ICT sector,” said Jabbar, also a former president of the Bangladesh Association of Software and Information Services (BASIS).

According to the BASIS, software exports fetch about $1 billion a year and the government has a target to raise it to $5 billion by 2021.

Bangladesh began exporting software in 1999-2000, bringing home $2.8 million in the year. In 2012-13 fiscal, the earnings surpassed $100 million.

More than 10 Bangladeshi companies, including REVE Systems, Tiger IT, DataSoft, Dohatec, eGeneration, Southtech, and Dream71, have offices in different countries such as India, Nepal, Bhutan, Malaysia, Japan, the UK, the US and various African nations.

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