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Indonesia Encourages Smart Islands and Villages Initiative

Johnny G. Plate, Minister of Communication, and Informatics has encouraged Indonesian local governments to vigorously implement the Smart Islands and Smart Villages initiatives which were launched at the G20 Economy Minister Meeting (G20-DEMM).

“We encourage the development of smart islands and villages in addition to smart cities. Specifically, I request that the local government use this digital infrastructure development to provide electronic-based government services to simplify government bureaucracy and licencing,” he said during a working visit to the East Manggarai Regency Office in East Nusa Tenggara.

The local government’s commitment to achieving smart initiatives and implementing an E-Government System (SPBE) is vital. The support of local governments to develop digital infrastructure would be key to the success of establishing a smart nation.

Creating vocational education to produce digital talent is especially important in encouraging the growth of digital spaces such as e-commerce, EdTech, Healthtech, and electronic government. The Ministry of Communication and Informatics is planning community empowerment efforts through digital literacy and talent development to power such innovative initiatives. However, several aspects of the community’s digital training need to be improved, according to the 2022 Indonesia Digital Community Index findings.

The government continues to support downstream development and distribution of digital technology infrastructure across the country. It has prioritised communities in underserved areas by constructing Base Transceiver Stations (BTS), developing smart cities and promoting digital literacy.

The Minister recognises that infrastructure development in East Manggarai, Manggarai, and West Manggarai can be a catalyst for e-commerce, EdTech, Healthtech and Smart City applications and the central government is willing to assist regional governments in achieving smart city goals.

The Smart City Programme consists of six main pillars which form the basis for implementing smart initiatives, namely Smart Governance or Smart Digital Government, Smart Infrastructure, Smart Economy, Smart Living, Smart People and Smart Environment.

One of the key components for accelerating national digital transformation is the availability of digital infrastructure for telecommunications and internet needs. Out of the 66 units built by the government, 53 BTS have been operating in East Manggarai Regency. Meanwhile, the additional 13 BTS are still in the works and will be completed in the first quarter of 2023.

According to Dhia Anugrah Febriansa, the Minister of Communication and Information, the Telecommunications, and Information Accessibility Agency (BAKTI) of the Ministry of Communication and Information and the partners used funds from the State Revenue and Expenditure Budget to build the BTS (APBN).

“To serve the community in all villages/sub-districts in Indonesia’s foremost, outermost, and disadvantaged (3T) areas that have yet to be served by a 4G signal network, particularly in East Manggarai Regency,” he said.

BTS will be a downstream infrastructure that will allow the public to benefit from upstream infrastructure in the form of a broadband fibre-optic cable network. The government has constructed more than 600 kilometres of fibre optic cable network connecting the provinces of East and West Nusa Tenggara via the Sape Strait in West Manggarai. The network is linked to an international route in Perth, Australia.

The SATRIA-I Satellite and the Hot Backup Satellite help provide internet access in schools and health care facilities. In addition, the gateway or earth station on Timor Island, Kupang Regency, Amfoang District, which will serve the entire province, is almost finished.

Similar initiatives to provide internet access in remote areas have been undertaken in several other countries, especially in light of the pandemic. For example, the Philippines rolled out free internet access to more remote islands.

An additional 628 operational free WiFi sites were established as part of the programme, bringing the total number of such WiFi locations throughout the Philippines to 4,757. The government’s free internet services are available to at least 2.1 million unique users, equivalent to about 100,000 families.

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