Muhammed Aziz Khan, founder and Chairman of Summit Power International Limited, Summit Holdings Ltd and IPCO Developments (Bangladesh) Limited, has said there will be huge opportunities for Bangladesh in the post-Covid-19 scenario that the country needs to utilize.
Talking about the impact of COVID-19 on infrastructures in Bangladesh at a virtual Cosmos Dialogue on Friday night, Aziz Khan said the pandemic will bring new life and new culture.
He said here is shortage in demand and supply and this will encourage other countries to supply to Bangladesh and also take goods from the country.
“Bangladesh will be in a much stronger position to negotiate with the importers of garments which is a basic goods”, he added. “We will have possibility to have better contracts”.
Describing different infrastructural development in the country, Aziz Khan said Bangladesh now generates 20,000 MW of electricity, Padma Bridge and three ports are coming up which will connect the country with the rest of the world.
“Many African countries do not have port facilities for which they have to suffer a lot, but Bangladesh has got that opportunity,” he said adding that metro rail, underground tunnel projects are being implemented which will create new opportunities for the country.
Aziz Khan said the government should look into the portfolio infrastructures as how they could be implemented in a faster manner.
Mentioning about the country’s financial position, Aziz Khan said the country is now in a better position in the foreign exchange reserves as it is now $35 billion.
He said Bangladesh’s large import is the energy and its cost will be half in post-COVID-19 era. “It means if we have to spend $4 billion, now we will need $2 billion.”
“So I see the biggest opportunity in this regards,” he added.
Commenting on education sector, the businessman said it is now more dependent on internet connectivity.
He said the country has installed 70,000 km optical fiber in last 12 years and it could be upgraded to 3G and 4G and 5G to provide better connectivity.
Aziz Khan said already 95 percent people have access to telephony that another huge thing that happens in infrastructure
“With these telephony available, we can extend it to 4G and 5G and we can find it for ensuring access to medical service for the people”, he said.
“If we can properly provide education through internet we can move up. China is coming up fast as because their people are educated”, the businessman said.
He said people are more dependent on conventional methods of education. “But if we can give it through the internet and computers and telephone, it will be much more useful.”
He said Bangladesh has the least number of doctors and least number of hospitals per capita.
Now the government is looking for converting all the upazila health complexes into hospitals that will be huge upside to provided social infrastructures, he mentioned.
Aziz Khan said COVID-19 is certainly bad for all but these opportunities are the stars in the darkness.
There could be sunshine and there could be sunshine in the cloud for which Bangladesh must pursue, he said.
Cosmos Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Cosmos Group, organised the webinar titled “Impact of COVID-19 on Bangladesh: Prognosis for Recovery” as part of Cosmos Dialogue.
Chairman of Cosmos Foundation Enayetullah Khan delivered the welcome speech at the webinar chaired by Dr Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury, the Principal Research Fellow at the Institute of South Asian Studies, National University of Singapore, and former Foreign Affairs Adviser to Bangladesh’s previous caretaker government.
Prominent economist and Chairman of Policy Research Institute (PRI) Dr Zaidi Sattar talked about the macroeconomic impact of COVID-19 on Bangladesh and prognosis for recovery.
Prof Haider Khan, John Evans Distinguished Professor of Economics at the University of Denver, highlighted the geopolitical implications of COVID-19 and challenges for Bangladesh.
Executive Director, Campaign for Popular Education (CAMPE) and former adviser to a previous caretaker government, Rasheda K Choudhury spoke with a focus on the impact of COVID-19 on women and education in Bangladesh and its recovery plans.
President of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) Dr Rubana Huq discussed the impact of COVID-19 on the readymade garment sector in Bangladesh.
Cosmos Foundation Executive Director Nahar Khan delivered the concluding remarks.