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Atiur makes case for AI in apparel industry

Former Bangladesh Bank governor Atiur Rahman speaking at an international conference on the apparel industry at a hotel in Colombo, Sri Lanka Collaboration of Human and Robot (Cobots) could be a pathway towards integrating technological innovation in Apparel Industry Bangladesh, said former Bangladesh Bank governor Atiur Rahman. He made the remarks while presenting a keynote speech at the International Conference on the Apparel Industry: Productivity Improvement, Disruptive Innovation and Leadership at a hotel in Colombo, Sri Lanka, chaired by Professor Amrik Sohal of Monash University, according to a statement. Bangladesh High Commissioner to Sri Lanka Riaz Hamidullah attended the conference as the Chief Guest and participated by Professor Perera, Vice Chancellor of the University of Maratuwa, Professor Dharmasiri, Director of PIM of University of Sri Jayewardenepura and Professor Shibli Rubayet Islam, Dean of the Faculty of Business Studies of Dhaka University. Representatives from the apparel industry of Bangladesh and Sri Lanka and academics from Australia and South Asia also participated in the conference. Mr Rahman shared his experience as a central bank governor in transforming a disaster like Rana Plaza tragedy into opportunities along with the contributions from the industry leaders, public policy makers and global representatives of the customers. Among the top 10 best green apparel factories in the world, seven are from Bangladesh, he added. Dr. Rahman emphasised the fact that the essence of middle-income society is to fuel expansion of capacities in education, vocation training, and job-outlets. The sectors like apparels cannot do alone in improving such capacities unless there is an adoption of modern technologies. “And this disruption needs not always be disruptive but has to be gradual and step by step,” he said. He noted that Bangladesh Bank (BB) has motivated the entire financial sector to put money to support environment-friendly industrial establishment. At the end of January 2016, a total of 45 banks and nine financial institutions provided green finance and the central bank has started rolling out a Green Transformation Fund of US$ 200 million for the garment and leather sectors, he added. He also said that the BB has been implementing a special support programme for improving compliances of SMEs in the readymade garment sector. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a path towards integrating the great number of unskilled workers into a structurally-difficult labour market that depends on foreign investment, Mr Rahman said. He further said that Bangladesh can certainly double its market share of garment from current five per cent if it continues to upgrade its drive for technological adoption along with improvement of human resources, particularly at the mid-level. Bangladesh can certainly apply AI to one or two steps of the production as well as supply chains. Both human and robots can work hand in hand in the apparel industry as some countries are utilising the complementary, cobots. He called for regional cooperation in improving human capital for this industry utilising the resources available in the region.


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