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Cambodia preparing for Industry 4.0 by investing in ‘robotics curriculum’

Pang Socheneath

Cambodia is preparing its next-generation for the upcoming Fourth Industrial Revolution by promoting its students’ robotic skills on both the local and international stages.

To achieve this, more robotic programs are being integrated into the national curriculum as demand for electronic supplies and skilled workers rise, according to both students and the Cambodian government. 

The Fourth Industrial Revolution or Industry 4.0 is widely considered the ongoing automation of traditional manufacturing and industrial practices, using modern smart technology.

Sovann Chen, is the Deputy Director of Department of STI Data Management at the Ministry of Industry, Science, Technology & Innovation.

Sovann told Cambodia Investment Review the current robotic sector in Cambodia is moving in parallel to the government’s national policies.

He added this development represented a good sign for the Kingdom in preparing for the upcoming industrial revolution.

“Higher education institutions have been integrating robotic programs into their curriculum and promoting student’s achievements that are being showcased in both national and international competitions,” Sovann said.

“This illustrates the development and growth of the robotic sector in Cambodia which is a good opportunity to leverage the technology of Industry 4.0.”, Sovann added.

Last month, Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) has granted $7.9 million to the Royal University of Phnom Penh to build a specialized incubation business hub for its students. 

The grant aims to develop the local entrepreneurial ecosystem – a major factor for Cambodia to achieve its middle-income goal by 2030.

Great progress over the last 10 years of robotic development in Cambodia

Lihour San, an industrial machinery and engineering senior student from the Institute of Technology of Cambodia expressed his observation to Cambodia Investment Review about the development in the robotic sector and human resources.

“Compared to that last ten years, the robotic sector has been improving significantly because students now have more opportunities to research and practice hands-on assignments,” Lihour said.

French #2 private Engineering graduate School ECAM LaSalle students working on drone technology.

“This has been made possible with the support from both schools and the Cambodian government through various project initiations and robot competitions,” Lihour added.

Recently, a human carrier drone made by students from the National Polytechnic Institute of Cambodia has been covered by both local and international media.

Vannsith Lonh, a member of the group involved told Cambodia Investment Review that before this human-carrier drone, there was an agricultural drone developed. 

He added, the group is now set to develop bigger robot projects with the next goals set including wind turbines, agricultural drones, and robotic prostheses.

“Agricultural robots are designed for digging soil, fertilizer spreading, chemical spraying, and vegetable planting along set rows with products such as carrot, cabbage, and broccoli, etc.,” Vannsith said.

The agricultural robot includes the adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) and will be designed for agricultural purposes with the overall aim to reduce farmer workforce requirements.

“Its main function is the AI technology that can detect and take out damaged and rotten vegetables,” Vannsith added.  

Ongoing investment is crucial for Cambodia’s industry 4.0 ambitions

Sovann Chen stated that the development of the robot sector and the strengthening of human resources are crucial parts in the encouragement of manufacturing subsectors.

In addition, the development of the robotic sector will promote the country’s economy as it contributes to innovations and improves manufacturing productivity, quality, and reduce worker’s safety.

“Some product innovations cannot be produced with just a human workforce, but need to have the workforce fully replaced by robots,” Lihour said.

However, the industry has hit some hurdles with issues from ordering parts required from overseas with insufficient tools available or only at very high prices. 

“There is inadequate electronic supply available in Cambodia. I have to order them from China then wait between two to three weeks or more due to the pandemic which I found to be challenging with time expense,” Lihour said.

“Local electronic suppliers have to also purchase from other countries which makes the price two to three times higher,” Lihour continued.

Regarding this, Vannsith declared to face the same challenges and urge to have more local electronic accessories supplies adding that their presence will help students save money and time.

A roadmap into the future of robotic development in Cambodia

Sovann Chen said the strengthening of human resources is a necessity regarding supplying tools and equipment for students’ practical works adding that Institute Technology of Cambodia has been equipped with main facilities with the support from Japan International Cooperation Center (JICA).

nauguration event of master-double degree specialized in manufacturing 4.0 launched by French #2 private Engineering graduate School ECAM LaSalle.

With the improving number of human resources, Lihour hopes for more locally available electronic suppliers to enhance market competition and more Cambodian people to be able to produce some tools on their own.

“If we have more potential human resources, we can attract many big-sized electronic suppliers including China and Khmer graduates who manage to invest these supplies to operate this business in Cambodia,” Lihour said. 

According to the Industrial Development Policy (IDP) 2015–2025, Cambodia’s vision is to obtain an upper-middle-income by 2030 and high-income status by 2050.

Industry has stated this can only be achieved if new technologies are leveraged to increase industrial-value added, diversify exports, and strengthen small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

Roadmap in achieving the 2030 and 2050 vision of the Ministry of Industry, Science, Technology & Innovation sets five pillars such as governance, education, research, cooperation, ecosystem.

The roadmap shows the expectation of launching two science museums or science education centers to promote science education to children across the country by 2030, starting with one in Phnom Penh by 2023. 

It also plans to launch twenty innovation days and 20 innovation forums by 2030, three sciences libraries open to all across the country by 2030, starting with one in Phnom Penh by 2023. 

In addition, a communication office between enterprise and university will be established in five universities by 2023 and 50% of total universities by 2030.

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