The initial requirements of building semi heavy industries in Bangladesh

M M Uddin       
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Bangladesh needs to think in a different way about textile industry as the industry is adapting huge advance and sophisticated technology to fulfill the modern manufacturing demands. In this context, the country can focus on idea development, innovation in textile industry, more attention to research and development of the semi heavy industry could the strategy coming forward. The economic sustainability, social life standard elevation and environmental balance are not possible without moving towards semi-heavy industry. To be industrially developed country a nation needs independent manufacturing base that makes it self-sufficient and capable of opposing the leading states.

Bangladesh today lags far behind the industrial nations of the world while the western countries went through industrialization 150 years ago. Bangladesh has remained largely unindustrialized and in most of the cases, it is reliant on the developed world. The UK initialized above two centuries ago and still their government is investing in further development and bringing further excellence. A sign of this is a recent investment of UK government about 235 million pound for boosting research and devolvement in advance materials. In a changed global arena every country is looking for more industrial balance. Bangladesh today being one of the fastest growing economy in the world needs to understand the urgency of industrialization and building infrastructure from semi heavy to heavy industry.

Figure 1: If the country has a vision, turning it to be an industrialized country is not impossible for Bangladesh.
Figure 1: If the country has a vision, turning it to be an industrialized country is not impossible for Bangladesh.

Earlier, value chain up-gradation strategy of Bangladesh was discussed in an article of this author published in Bangladesh Textile Today, June 2017 issue, where several issues were discussed including holistic industrial development, ways of value chain up gradation and the proposition of building semi heavy industry. There are different strategies or criteria to develop semi heavy industry, some initial requirements have been discussed here.

State vision

The state vision is different from others because it is highly influenced by political and intellectual vision, which brings the global supremacy. Bangladesh needs a vision to be a industrialized country, which will show the way out to be a developed country, the dream of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

Department of Heavy Industries under the Ministry of Industries, Bangladesh

qouteA policy has to be taken to fulfill the state vision and according to the policy, Bangladesh government needs to form an individual department that could be called “Department of Heavy Industry (DHI)” under the ministry of Industries. This department will be full responsible to set the long-term vision & mission. The department will promote engineering industry like machine tools, heavy electrical, industrial machinery, automobile industry, aircraft and ship building industry, automation and control industry etc. and their administration and control. This department will be actively engaged in manufacture and in consultancy and contracting services. The department will ease and facilitate finance and technical expertise for the entrepreneurs who want to build such industries. The industries under the support of this department in the government will manufacture a wide range of products like boilers, gas/steam/hydro turbines, industrial machinery (textile, automobile, civil, construction) turbo generators, three-four wheelers tractors and consumer products such as spear parts, paper, salt, tires and watches.

The Ministry will also take care the machine building industry and make sure the requirements of equipment for basic industries such as iron, steel, non-ferrous metals, power, fertilizers, refineries, petrochemicals, shipping, paper, cement, sugar, etc. The Department also helps the building of a range of intermediate engineering products like boiler, iron, sewing machine, castings, forgings, diesel engines, industrial gears and gear boxes, needle. It will collaborate with Industry Associations and launch different types of programs for encouraging initiatives for growth of industry. It will be one of the main responsibilities of the department to assists the industry in achieving their growth plans through support for policy initiatives, suitable interventions for restructuring of tariffs and trade, promotion of technological collaboration and up-gradation, and research and development activities etc.

Harmonize the academy with industry

Bangladesh needs to establish its academy focusing on semi-heavy to heavy industry. There are many technical educational institutes in Bangladesh, which specializes in different sectors. Bangladesh University of Textile (BUTex) is one of them. The university is playing an important role to improve country’s economy producing professionals for garments and apparel sector. Professor Engr. Mashud Ahmed, Vice Chancellor of Bangladesh University of Textile said in a close interview with Textile Today said, “Education builds a strong foundation for a nation, and technology based education is essential for a country like ours. I believe that, Bangladesh University of Textiles will play a very remarkable role to upgrade the textile education, which will be compatible with the era of globalization. To fulfill the new sustainable globalization challenge of 21st century we’ve already added some new department like Textile Dyes & Chemicals Manufacturing, Machine Design & Manufacturing, Industrial Production Engineering etc., which will also reduce the dependency of this sector on foreign expertise and facilitate professionals and experts for machinery, chemical and technical textile industries.”

Needs enough power supply

Heavy industrialization without sufficient electricity back up will be hypothetical thinking. The country is suffering from lack of electricity than per industrial and personal demands. Only 77.9% population have the access to the electricity according to the BPDB but practical scenario is worse. However, our energy sector is booming rapidly and it’s the first priority project to Bangladeshi government. Only Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant will add 2.4 GW power in the grid within 2023. Fuel mix for power generation is mostly natural gas (around 66%) based, followed by oil, hydropower and coal. Nuclear based power generation is must for supporting an industrialized nation.

Power System Master Plan 2016 (PSMP16) of Bangladesh government is to solve the electricity problem properly. PSMP16, sponsored by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), aims at helping the Bangladesh in formulating an extensive energy and power development plan up to the year 2041, covering energy balance, power balance, and tariff strategies.

Figure 1: Power System Master Plan 2016. (Source: BPDB, Feb 2017)
Figure 1: Power System Master Plan 2016. (Source: BPDB, Feb 2017)

A meticulous analysis is required to find the best pathway to attain the sustainability of the energy and power sectors in balancing with the economic growth. The new PSMP study covers all the aforementioned challenges comprehensively, and come up with feasible proposals and action plans for Bangladesh to implement. If it is implementing properly electricity problem will not be the barrier for our heavy industry.

Raw materials

The Bangladesh Textile Mills Association’s Sr. Certification Officer Ali Ahmad said, “Every year we are importing capital machinery of about 30 billion dollar from different countries for different sectors and demand of the capital machinery are increasing day by day. The heavy industrialization isn’t possible in Bangladesh because our main problem is that we have no basic raw materials like Iron”.

However there is different opinion also, MM Hoque Harun, Alumni of BUTEX and Managing Director of Fatullah Enterprise Ltd. who is involved for last 21 years in Textile Machinery business in Bangladesh, said that, “Heavy industrialization highly possible in Bangladesh and we need it badly to face the new sustainable challenge. Raw materials, technical soundness and infrastructure are not big issues. Our main barrier is our government policy and their sincere willingness.”

Actually, for the semi-heavy industrialization iron is not only the raw materials. Gas, oil, coal, salt, petroleum, uranium, tin, bauxite, copper, gold, silver, rubber etc. are also the basic raw materials for it. Availability of raw materials is another requirement of semi-heavy industrialization in Bangladesh.

To turn the country into a semi-heavy industrialized country Bangladesh government’s initiative is must. Without government initiative, it will not be possible.

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