Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Shilpa Nagar (BSMSN) built on 30,000 acres of land at the converging points of three upazilas of Chattogram and Feni districts is all set to stand apart for attracting distinctive investment for manufacture of diverse or non-traditional products. Of the $28 billion investments approved so far in the Export Processing Zones (EPZs), BSMSN's share has been $200 million. Although the lion's share in the investment is still in the readymade garments (RMG) and textile along with iron and steel, this industrial park is going to make its debut in manufacture of products no other EPZ has been able to. A Chinese company is going to set up a plant for production of lead nitrate, chemical that is used for refining gold. Cent per cent of this chemical will be exported. Next comes the most attractive and highly welcome industrial plant over 100 acres of land devoted to manufacturing electric vehicles including sedan cars, sport utility vehicles (SUVs), microbus, three wheelers and motorcycles.
The other plant to be set up for processing of cashew nut is not unique but no industrial park has housed one. Given the rising production of this cash crop in the hilly districts of the country, this plant can count on better prospect. But it is the proposed production of electric vehicles based on collaboration between a Bangladesh company and its Chinese counterpart that really stands to change the country's manufacturing landscape. Environmentally friendly, the electric cars and other vehicles including motor cycles will be in great demand for their non-polluting performance. What is particularly savouring is that the vehicles are going to be cost-effective. Reports have it that vehicles to be produced here will be priced at Tk 0.7 million to Tk2.5 million. The compressed natural gas (CNG)-driven vehicles are more or less environmentally friendly, but gas reserve of the country is depleting fast. Then the majority of vehicles run on fossil fuels, heavily polluting the environment. If the electric cars perform well and last long enough, more and more people will opt for those.
For an overpopulous country like Bangladesh with a small territory, industrialisation ought to be intelligent and smart. Land use has to be more economical than those of large countries. Equally important is the issue of environmental safety. The country should focus on as many as zero-pollution productive units. To the country's advantage, the information technology has made quite a stride by the time without much government patronage. Bangladesh has produced a highly efficient crop of IT professionals. If facilities for advanced research and innovation are created in this sector, artificial intelligence (AI), the next giant technological leap required for the fourth industrial revolution (4IR) can take place here.
So it is incumbent on the policymakers to press for manpower development. Advanced industrial units will have to be run by local experts not by foreign ones. The authorities needed to remodel education for producing manpower required for all levels from top to bottom. In line with this, the National Technical and Vocational Qualification Framework (NTVQF), developed by the government of Bangladesh in collaboration with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the European Union (EU) will put in place the Bangladesh National Qualifications Framework (BNQF). This will correspond to the international standards of low to low-middle employees. Now the need is to put an emphasis on tertiary education to be equal to the challenge.