ADB to provide another $150m for CMSMEs
Another overseas support for the cottage, micro, small and medium enterprises (CMSMEs) is coming from the Asian Development Bank to facilitate the post-Covid recovery of the ailing industries. The Manila-based lender will provide US$150 million worth of loans for supporting the country’s CMSMEs for the economic recovery shortly, said an official of the Economic Relations Division (ERD). Earlier, in September, the ADB Board approved a $250 million policy-based loan to support the economic recovery of CMSMEs following the Covid-19 pandemic. According to the ADB, its proposed $150 million funds would benefit the unemployed youth and returning migrants, particularly women who will receive training to restart and expand micro businesses. The government had announced some 28 stimulus packages of Tk1.35 trillion for different sectors including the CMSMEs to keep rolling the wheels of the country’s economy against the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic. According to the ADB, its $150 million financial support will also be made available to qualified rural job creation programmes to expand the non-farm employment base. Under the proposed $150 million ADB-funded project, the commercial banks and financial institutions will provide financial support to women returnee migrants, young unemployed women, and rural women entrepreneurs.
Covid takes a toll on female employment rate in banks
The coronavirus pandemic has taken a toll on female employment rate in Bangladesh’s banking sector, causing it to fall alarmingly in the first half of this year. The ratio of female employees stood at 15.8 per cent as of June this year in contrast to 18.7 per cent a year ago, according to data from Bangladesh Bank. The number of female employees in banks stood at 29,513 as of June, an increase of 5.1 per cent year-on-year. The total number of male employees stood at 157,271 in contrast to 150,432 the year before. In most of the cases, female employees prioritised their families over their jobs, which is why some of them left their profession during the pandemic. The ratio of female employees stood at 15.8 per cent in state-owned banks as of June this year, down from 18 per cent a year ago. The ratio in specialised banks went down to 13.7 per cent from 15.5 per cent while that of private banks fell to 15.7 per cent from 18.9 per cent. Foreign banks also saw a big dropout as the ratio fell to 24.7 per cent from 33 per cent. Emranul Huq, managing director of Dhaka Bank Limited, said they had recruited entry-level officials in different positions this year but had not been able to appoint as many women as expected. In June this year, 16.28 per cent of the entry-level staff was female but the percentage of mid to high-level staff was 15.59 per cent and 8.93 per cent respectively.
Target to generate 4,100MW by 2030
Bangladesh has set an ambitious goal of generating more than 4,100 megawatts of electricity from renewable energy sources by 2030 as the county looks to cut greenhouse gas emissions significantly. Solar power will account for half of the energy, at 2,277 MW, followed by hydropower 1,000 MW and wind 597 MW. The country outlined the plan in its updated Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) submitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change ahead of COP26, which kicks off in Glasgow. In the meeting, around 200 countries will highlight their plans to slash emissions by 2030 as they agreed in the Paris Agreement in 2015 to keep global warming well below 2C above pre-industrial levels and to try to aim for 1.5C to avert climate catastrophe. The contribution of Bangladesh to the global greenhouse gas emission is less than 1 per cent. However, it is one of the most climate-vulnerable countries due to rising sea levels caused by greenhouse gas emissions. For Bangladesh’s NDC update, 2012 has been considered as the base year, and the plan aims to further mitigation actions that the country may take to tackle its growing emissions and play its part in global efforts. Currently, Bangladesh’s installed power generation capacity is about 24,000 MW, on the back of 146 power plants, captive and off-grid sources. Of the amount, only 776 MW are generated from renewable sources, representing about 3 per cent of the total electricity production. If Bangladesh can achieve its targets set in the NDC, this will take the share of renewable energy-based power generation capacity to around 10 per cent in 2030, when the country aims to generate 46,000 MW, doubling from the current level.
Bangladeshi origin startup wins Tk 85 lakh
OpenRefactory, a Bangladeshi origin startup that uses artificial intelligence to automatically detect and correct programming errors, won over Tk 85 lakh at the Bangabandhu Innovation Grant-2021 competition yesterday. The contest’s finale at Bangladesh Film Archive gave out Tk 3.60 crore in total to 36 startups chosen from home and abroad. The event was organised by the Innovation Design and Entrepreneurship Academy (iDEA) Project of Bangladesh Computer Council (BCC) under the ICT Division to inspire young entrepreneurs and startups and support an enabling ecosystem in the country. The campaign was run in 142 countries and over 7,000 startups and inventors from 57 countries, including Bangladesh, participated in the initial stage. Following grooming sessions at an online boot camp and a reality TV show comprising the country’s established business icons, 46 startups won their place at the finale — 26 local, 10 international and 10 of the iDEA Project. The finance minister said Bangladesh’s startup ecosystem started to form in 2010 and currently there were over 2,500 startups, directly or indirectly employing more than 1.5 million people, and 40 accelerator and incubator programmes. The ICT sector’s export revenue stands at over $1 billion, said State Minister for ICT Division Zunaid Ahmed Palak, who announced the winners.