It was about time: for the first time in Norway was a business focuses networking event on Bangladesh arranged. ”The BRICS countries are were you should have been by now. If you are not, you better look at the next 11, the frontier markets! Just look at Telenor: Bangladesh has been a jewel in the crown for many years“, said the President of the Nordic Chamber in Bangladesh, Arild Klokkerhaug.
The evening seminar, organised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Dhaka and hosted at Telenor Expo in Oslo, started with Oddvar Hesjedal, Vice President of Telenor and ex CEO of Grameenphone, sharing from his own as well as Telenor´s strong experience in Bangladesh.
Ragne Birte Lund, Norway´s Ambassador to Bangladesh and the driving force for this event gave an update about how Bangladesh has developed: “Early movers can gain unique advantages and positioning in the market. When Telenor established themselves in Bangladesh, Swedish rivals Telia had already been offered the mobile license. But Telia turned it down, because they did not see the market in Bangladesh developing very rapidly. They were dead wrong.“
The Ambassador continued: “Bangladesh has had robust and stable economic growth since the mid nineties and could soon join the “seven percent” club. It has the world’s 7th largest population of 160 million! with a growing middle class and domestic market“, before stressing the increasingly active role of women in the economy. Bangladesh also offers a young and strong workforce as production base for exports to large foreign markets as well as being strategically located between India and China for trade and sourcing.
“While labour cost in China is already rapidly becoming too expensive, the workforce in Bangladesh is growing faster than the population, guaranteeing a stable supply of low cost manpower for decades to come!” Deb Bhattacharya from the respected Centre for Policy Dialogue in Dhaka shared an indepth presentation about the Risks and Opportunities in Bangladesh. ”In just the last five years, Bangladesh´s export to Norway increased 6.4 times!” Deb, as well as the other speakers, were honest about the challenges as energy shortfall, sub-standard infrastructure, corruption, poor legal system and continuous political tension haunting businesses. Still, the market opportunities are so large that businesses will continue to thrive and benefit from a massive domestic market and strong work force.
Some of the things mentioned: