Google Developer DevFest Bangladesh 2017 presented by Google Developer Group Dhaka and powered by Whiteboard, in association with Preneur Lab, took place on November 18 at GP House. Bangladesh’s honorable State Minister of ICT, Zunayed Ahmed Palak MP, was also present at the event as the Chief Guest where he celebrated the launch of an online merchant account with members of the Google Developer Group Community.
GDG DevFests are large, community-run developer events that happen in many countries around the world, and are focused on Google technologies. Each DevFest is inspired by and uniquely tailored to the needs of the developer community that hosts it. Google Developer DevFest Bangladesh 2017 hosted 300 participants from all around Bangladesh.
While no two events are exactly alike, each event, at its core, is powered by a shared belief that when developers come together to exchange ideas, amazing things can happen.
A coding session through a ‘CodeLab’ was held in GP House on the day as well. In this way, 18 sessions, organized at 6 universities – 3 sessions at each location – were held simultaneously, and saw a total of 1,800 participants. The universities involved were North South University, BRAC University, Hajee Mohammad Danesh Science & Technology University, Shahjalal University of Science and Technology, University of Liberal Arts Bangladesh, and Dhaka University. Further, six sessions and two-panel discussions took place at GP House during the event.
The panelists consisted of experts and thought leaders like Kazi Mahboob Hassan, Head of Transformation, Grameenphone; Sajid Rahman, CEO, Telenor Health; Fahim Mashroor, CEO, BDJobs; and Linda Germanis, from Innovation Hub Project Manager, UNDP Bangladesh, who discussed Market Opportunities for future tech developers of Bangladesh.
‘We need to realize that our country is becoming more open to digital services and start-ups, main credit goes to the initiative taken by the Ministry of ICT and information programs like A2i and etc.,” said Kazi Mahboob Hasan, Head of Transformation, Grameenphone, adding that the Ministry of ICT and the Govt. are becoming more open and accepting towards the development of this industry.
“Bangladesh now is going through a phase of transition where it is important that the country recognize the significance of alternative jobs and developing an ecosystem that supports a country’s economy using technology. Grameenphone is the largest technology company in the country feels responsible to make sure that the country develops its digital ecosystem.” Kazi said.
Sajid Rahman, CEO of Telenor Health, said, ‘Building any company can be very insecure in terms of financial stability. We should work on creating a safety net for upcoming entrepreneurs to secure their future and help these initiatives become a commercially sustainable.” He also warned that start-ups face challenges in finding the right kind of skill set so it was important that the industry had enough people and expert resources with the right skill set to support that initiative.
Fahim Mashroor, CEO of BDJobs, opined that the Bangladesh market was very small compared to nations like India and China. “Due to the competitiveness of the market, 10 years ago, startups were easier to set up than it is today as the World was less globalized and connected. Today, it has become difficult for new entrants to survive the market because of existing and big market players,” he added. “The core solution to this problem is to know how to work with data and how to handle such amount of data. This is where new startups and new entrants fail in most cases. Utilization of data in a proper way is very important.’
”Skills development, providing platforms, and specific projects are the key areas that need focus for the development of a digital ecosystem in Bangladesh. Apart from training people for skills development, there is a huge scope for ICT freelancing where according to online data, almost 100,000 online jobs are created every week. So this is a major opportunity to reduce unemployment. Entrepreneurship is important but ICT freelancing is equally important. It is also important that platforms are provided to help start-ups and guide them to scale their initiatives and succeed more and face fewer failures’, said Linda Germanis, Innovation Hub Project Manager, UNDP Bangladesh.
In another panel discussion, industry experts discussed Android Development. This panel comprised of Zamilur Rashid, CEO, Mindfisher Games Inc.; Ershadul Haque, CEO, Rise Up Labs; Selim Kham, DPD, Mobile Game Project, ICT Division; Siddiq Abu Bakkar, CEO, Audacity and Mr. Zaman, Director, Solutions Architecture at Dell.
There were sessions on UX, Gaming and, more importantly, a Live Coding session, conducted by Anam Ahmed and Aniruddha Adhikary from Telenor Health, where they demonstrated how to code an app in under 20 minutes.
Activation events were conducted by WhiteBoard – Grameenphone’s Innovation platform – across six universities on the days leading up to this year’s DevFest, in collaboration with Google Developer Group Dhaka and Preneur Lab.