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Opportunities available to digitise manufacturing, agriculture in Industry 4.0

Myanmar has the potential to leapfrog semi-automated production lines and jump straight into the era of Industry 4.0, or fourth industrial revolution, under which cyber-physical systems and marketplaces, smart robots and machines, big data, connectivity, energy efficiency and virtual industrialisation will take center stage.

This is because Myanmar has not even fully participated in the third industrial revolution, meaning that many production lines still rely on a significant share of manual labor and are not even partly automated, according to a white paper prepared by the Delegation of German Industry and Commerce in Myanmar in cooperation with Roland Berger and Myanmar Survey Research (MSR) launched on May 24.

For decades, Myanmar has ranked among the world’s least industrialised nations due to economic and political isolation.. Agriculture still accounts for more than 23 percent of the country’s economic output compared to less than 9pc in neighboring country Thailand.

But while the country is still in clear need of reforms and upgrades, significant improvement has already been achieved in some sectors in recent years. Among these are the telecommunications, banking and retail sectors. Progress has largely been made through digitalisation and automated solutions. Due to the internet, financial technology, e-commerce and smart city characteristics like digitisation of government and company registrations have emerged.

Thus, digital leapfrogging across various sectors in Myanmar is already happening right now. “Myanmar is developing better connectivity, mobile solutions and e-commerce platforms such that it is already leapfrogging more developed countries, U Thaung Tin, vice chair of Union of Myanmar Federation Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said.

The telecommunications and financial sectors have proven that leapfrogging is possible in a county like Myanmar, he said, adding that there are opportunities for automation technologies to be implemented in manufacturing, which is labour intensive, and agriculture, which is one of the largest industries in Myanmar with significant potential to be further digitised. Automation technology is highly important to increase the harvest output per acre.

Infrastructure development is one of the areas that Myanmar is visibly lacking behind the regional peers. However, Yangon has planned many urban development projects and envisions becoming the latest smart city in ASEAN based on the Yangon Master Plan 2040. The Yangon Amata and Eco City Project is among the prioritised urban projects.

To make it all possible, support from the authorities is required.“The government’s Economic Policy includes economic development by digitalisation. It is very important that the public and private sectors are moving forward in harmony. The government will need to prepare and review the necessary laws and regulations commensurate with Industry 4.0,” said U Aung Naing Oo, permanent secretary of Ministry of Investment and Foreign Economic Relations.

Khin Maung Cho, Minister of the Ministry of Industry, added that the authorities need to focus more on understanding, supporting and regulating e- commerce platforms, mobile banking and digital payments.

The paper identifies five main barriers – lack of education, lack of financing, lack of infrastructure, lack of industry standards and collaboration] and lack of knowledge about Industry 4.0. Myanmar needs to overcome these barriers to further automate and facilitate a viable industry 4.0 landscape.

The paper said that Myanmar has a unique opportunity to leapfrog across industries if those barriers can be overcome.

Source: Myanmar Times

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