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Microsoft's Bill Gates promises to expand investment in Bangladesh
[December 05, 2005]

Microsoft's Bill Gates promises to expand investment in Bangladesh

The Associated Press

Bill Gates, the founder and chairman of Microsoft Corp., made a brief stop in the Bangladeshi capital Monday on his first trip to the South Asian nation.

Gates and his wife, Melinda, who arrived in his personal jet, visited a public health research center and a micro-credit project that gives small loans to the poor in downtown Dhaka,

In a meeting with Bangladesh's Prime Minister Khaleda Zia, Gates promised to expand investment in Bangladesh through its local office, which was set up last year, according to a statement by Microsoft Bangladesh.

Meanwhile, Zia promised to support Microsoft's contribution in developing the Bangladeshi economy, the statement said.

"I am pleased to see such progress to bridge the digital divide and grow the software industry in an emerging market like Bangladesh," Gates was quoted as saying. "The results ... can only come through strong partnership between the industry and the government."

Separately, Gates oversaw a signing ceremony between Microsoft Bangladesh and the education ministry to provide skill-based training to 10,000 teachers and 200,000 students at the country's primary and secondary schools over next three years, the statement said.

Currently the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation funds health programs for the poor in this impoverished country.

The software giant has funded a local subsidiary to train some 2,000 disadvantaged youths from rural Bangladesh each year. Also, it has converted eight rural telephone shops into Internet kiosks and computer training centers in northeastern Bangladesh.

Gates also met with government officials, experts and business leaders involved in the IT sector and made a speech titled "Innovation and Partnership."

The government appointed an elite guard to protect the couple in the wake of a recent spate of deadly bomb blasts blamed on Islamic militants.

Bangladesh's nascent IT industry last year exported about US$7 million (euro5.98 million) worth of software and other services -- mainly to the United States, Canada, Japan and Europe -- and experts have forecast a doubling in such exports this year.

Gates was scheduled to leave for India later Monday to attend a two-day forum as part of his seven-day tour of South Asia.

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