The fourth industrial revolution (4IR) is crucial for prosperity in business and will open new opportunities for Bangladesh, speakers have said.
They said a multilateral approach was needed to introduce and adopt the fourth industrial revolution in the country.
They were addressing a webinar titled "Post-Covid-19: Challenges and Opportunities for Entrepreneurship and Employment in the Context of Current Status of Skill Development and Readiness for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (Sub-episode 3)."
It was jointly organised by the Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (Bida) and France Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCIFB) on Saturday.
4IR is significant to address challenges and is equipped with opportunities, said Planning Minister MA Mannan, who was the chief guest.
"It will flourish with innovation, investment and growth in line with the sustainable development goals [SDGs]," he said, adding that collective efforts of academia, industry and the government are needed to avail 4IR.
While presenting the keynote, Professor Dr Mehdi Anwar of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Connecticut said the challenges in Bangladeshi industries created by cyber-enabled 4IR and the Covid-19 pandemic require a clear understanding.
Industries need to be re-oriented and adopt online platforms to remain globally competitive, he said.
Through establishing relevant communications and related infrastructure, as well as generating a qualified workforce, industries can enhance the Internet of Things (IoT), automation, deep learning, and machine learning, he added.
President of CCIFB Syed Mahmudul Huq said the pandemic had put stress on individuals, enterprises and societies; this forced them to use different tools of 4IR.
Therefore, by deploying tools like artificial intelligence, big data and other emerging technologies, we could create new products, new industries and new jobs, he added.
Riaz Hamidullah, Bangladesh ambassador to the Netherlands, emphasised the importance of piloting a few 4IR initiatives in the form of start-ups – including e-commerce, e-learning, e-agriculture, smart grid, and smart logistics – to demonstrate results and build confidence.
Bida should conduct studies on 4IR to boost the country's competitiveness in business and logistics, he said.
Emeritus Professor Satya Prasad Majumder, vice-chancellor of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology, said, "We need to establish a network of universities and industries to promote innovation, address local and global challenges, and generate a qualified workforce."
Dr Rashid Hamid, team leader of the United Nations 4IR Study, said 4IR requires a resilient and advanced internet infrastructure, and implementation of appropriate policies.
Abul Kasem Khan, chairman of the Business Initiative Leading Development, highlighted engaging the private sector and stakeholders in policy design to improve the investment climate and tackle new issues.
He also said providing incentives to technology and innovation would support and encourage greater participation in global value chains.
Dr Rubana Huq, president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, said the transition to automation and cyber-enabled modalities has a great economic impact, especially on RMG industries.
Dr Asif Naimur Rashid, chief information officer at Robi, said the current 4IR policy needs to indicate specific incentives for first movers to 4IR on an industrial scale and there must be indications of the reutilisation factor of the spare labour in other sectors.
Bida Executive Chairman Md Sirazul Islam said, "BIDA is working with the private sector to impart training on different skills required for using different tools of 4IR, and promoting innovations and entrepreneurship."
Among others, Aurelien Sostaponti, head of Industries and Cleantech department in India at Business France, and AKM Hafizullah Khan, project director of Entrepreneurship and Skill Development Project (ESDP) of Bida, spoke at the programme.