The Jakarta Post, 6 November 2014
Written by. Eddy Satriya (firstname.lastname@example.org)
October 2014 was a blessed month for Indonesia. It witnessed the transition period to a new president and new government to rule the nation, to carry on efforts so that Indonesia becomes a developed country by 2025 as stipulated in the MP3EI, the Master Plan for Acceleration and Expansion of Indonesian Economic Development.
Recently the media carried the news of a blusukan (impromptu visit) made by President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo and Mark Zuckerberg — CEO of Facebook. The visit signaled their shared hopes that Indonesia should use advances in information and communication technology (ICT) to boost its economy.
Their visit to Tanah Abang, the crowded Central Jakarta market in the heat of mid October reflected that the Internet will play a significant role in implementing Jokowi’s vision delivered in his presidential campaign this year. Citing “e-government”, among other things, Jokowi will also use the Internet to improve several basic public services and increase transparency in his new government.
Nowadays Indonesia has become among the most populous countries both in terms of population and also in the ownership of mobile telephones after China, India and the European Union. It is estimated that today Indonesia has about 300 million active mobile telephone numbers with over 120 percent penetration rate.
In addition Indonesians are among the most loyal users of Facebook and Twitter and any kind of brand new applications on social media such as Path, LINE and WhatsApp. Ten telecommunications operators and a couple of cable TV providers have successfully empowered and connected all Indonesian cities with affordable mobile Internet facilities. However in terms of using ICT for more productive economic activities, Indonesia still lags behind peer countries due to limitations in connection speed and local content.
Therefore, the launch of the Indonesia Broadband Plan (IBP) as stated in Presidential Regulation No. 96 /2014 in Jakarta on Oct. 15 marks an important milestone in Indonesia’s ICT history. The IBP sets the target of broadband deployment for a minimum speed of 2 megabits per second (Mbps) for fixed broadband and 1 Mbps for mobile broadband. Providing a high-speed Internet service will ensure people maximize the benefit of using ICT for their economic, educational, health and other activities. The IBP also details five priority areas i.e. e-government; e-education; e-health; e-logistics; and e-procurement until 2019.
In February this year in Barcelona, thousands of telecommunications CEOs and government officials listened as Zuckerberg unfolded the reason why he priced WhatsApp at US$19 billion, one of the biggest deals on earth for a start-up company. He said WhatsApp was a great fit for Facebook and he also valued the half-billion people connected to the application. Being connected and a networked economy have been the main reasons for Zuckerberg ‘s expansion of his business around the globe. It could be also one of the main reasons why he met our President Jokowi.
Jokowi successfully won over people when he declared a series of different ICT applications such as e-KTP or e-ID, e-procurement, e-education, etc. Moreover, he has also showed his concern for creative economic activities such as music, animation and entertainment. He further assured voters that he would increase the transparency of his governance by using different ICT applications.
So the rare event of the young billionaire Zuckerberg meeting the newly elected Indonesian president should be treated as a good signal for both sides. While the Facebook CEO expands his business, Jokowi could also draw benefits for the nation’s ICT ecosystem.
Indonesia has a big chance to improve its local ICT products, services, hardware and other equipment.
In July this year Indonesia launched the first Indonesian 4G/LTE hand set manufactured locally in Batam. Producing more local smartphones will definitely eliminate the need for imported products costing billions of rupiah. Last September in Brussels, witnessed by the Indonesian ambassador to Belgium, the Grand-Duchy of Luxembourg and the European Union, a German IT company signed a memorandum of understanding with a local company from Bandung to develop an open Base Transmission Receiver system.
Indonesia is blessed not only with its rich natural resources, but also its talented and brilliant human resources. Thousands of young Indonesians have already dedicated their life to helping ICT grow around the globe.
Many are behind high-quality animation films produced from Singapore to Hollywood. They are competing with millions of young talented people from China, India, and Eastern Europe in techno parks and in Silicon Valley for new world-class application’s.
Zuckerberg’s visit, Jokowi’s vision on ICT use, and the IBP should boost the local ICT industry and also the nation’s economy in the near future.
The writer is a senior infrastructure economist who graduated from the University of Connecticut, in the US. He is the deputy assistant of ICT and utility at the Office of the Coordinating Ecomomic Minister.