Dhaka, Dec 11: Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Saturday said the government is preparing the country for tapping the opportunities of the fourth industrial revolution to accelerate its economic growth towards the desired level.
“We’re formulating an innovative education ecosystem (IEE) by increasing the budget for research and innovation. We’re framing the National Blended Learning Policy-2021. Through this policy, we’ll be able to introduce an education system bridging the technological gap,” she said.
Sheikh Hasina said this while delivering her speech at the closing ceremony of a two-day international conference on the 4th Industrial Revolution-2021 held at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre.
She joined the programme, which was organised on the birth centenary of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and the Golden Jubilee of independence, virtually from her official residence Ganobhaban.
Hasina said the use of technologies is increasing day by day along with invention of new ones. “Bangladesh has to move on keeping the pace of that.”
She said Bangladesh needs industrialisation while its economy is an agro-based one. “But we need industrialisation, we need agriculture and industries both, we’re taking various steps keeping that in our mind.”
Given the perspective of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, three issues are gaining importance — development of the industry through innovation of sophisticated technology, creating skilled workforce, and protecting the environment, the PM said.
“Industrialisation aims to improve the lifestyle of people, create a market for new products, and accelerate the pace of the economy through employment,” she said.
Hasina said groundbreaking evolution of industrialisation after almost 100 consecutive years is remarkable. Passing the first, second, and third stages, the mankind have reached the dawn of the fourth industrial revolution, she added.
“At this stage, the world is divided into two to create affordable and green value-chains- rich nations and invent technologies and enjoy their utility on one hand, and some other countries are unable to invest in them on the other,” the PM said.
She said scientists believe that humans will have to coexist with artificial intelligence devices in the near future. And some new types of challenges have to be tackled.
For example, she mentioned, machines will shrink the human workplace; the demand for cheap labour will decline, inequality will increase, and migration will be encouraged. “Foreign investment in developing countries will fall, and inequality in technological know-how will increase.”
Hasina the biggest challenge is the developed and the developing countries to keep pace with the Fourth Industrial Revolution on their own. “For this technologies have to be made readily available and easily transferable.”
Since the formation of the government in 1996, she said, her government has focused on establishing IT infrastructure, formulating rules, and creating skilled citizens with technology.
After the consecutive winning in the elections since 2008, Hasina said, her government has been working to build ‘Digital Bangladesh’ by 2021 and introduce innovative technologies in the industrial sector. As a result, the number of internet users in Bangladesh has now exceeded 120 million.
“We’re launching 5-G Network Service soon. It’ll completely change the business model, education system, standard of living, and conventional digital and social media.”
She said the government has transformed post offices into digital centres. It connected Union Digital Centres to fiber optical cables, set up Sheikh Russell Digital Labs at educational institutions, and designed thousands of interactive content and e-books.
“I believe the ICT and software industry will enrich our export sector in the future. We’re giving special incentives to overseas industries to set up research-development and manufacturing centres in Bangladesh,” the PM said.
She also said many companies, including Nokia, Samsung, Huawei, are working in high-tech parks that have been established in various parts of the country.
In the manufacturing sector, she said, the government is adopting the ‘Circular Economic Model,’ through which it has started producing safe, recyclable, and long-lasting products using environmentally friendly technology.
“We’ve already been able to generate more electricity than our demand. We’ve identified 11 thrust sectors for export. We’re creating additional 10 million jobs creating 100 economic zones,” she said.
According to the US Green Building Council (USGBC), 144 of Bangladesh’s factories have received the Leadership in Energy and Environment Design (LEED) certificate, the highest in the world. Of these, 41 have received Platinum, 89 Gold, 12 Silver, and 3 General Certificates, she mentioned.
“We’re proud that 39 of the 100 best world factories are from Bangladesh. We offer free tariffs on hybrid car imports and have started working on running electric cars.”
Education Minister Dr Dipu Moni, Deputy Minister for Education Mohibul Hassan Chowdhoury, University Grants Commission of Bangladesh (UGC) chairman Prof Dr Kazi Shahidullah, its Member Sazzad Hossain also spoke at the programme.
Three Nobel laureates and six eminent scientists presented keynote papers.
Two side events, ‘Mujib-100 Idea Contest’ and ‘Mujib-100 Industrial Exhibit’, were also held.
A total of 525 research papers were submitted from 17 countries, and 100 of those were selected for presentation.
Besides, 10 out of thousands of ideas were picked as the best ones who will receive prize money of Tk 10 lakh each.