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Indonesia to Accelerate Equitable Internet Access

According to Johnny G. Plate, Minister of Communication and Informatics, the government’s strong financial and political commitment will allow for the equitable distribution of internet access through constructing a 4G Base Transceiver Station (BTS).

Minister Johnny emphasised the importance of local governments in accelerating digital transformation. Local support will assist national digital transformation by developing digital infrastructure across the rural area.

“Trillions of Rupiah (for the capital expenditure) have been spent, not to mention the subsequent OPEX and so on. The state money has been spent on areas that cellular operator partners are not building because they are non-commercial or difficult to build, and they do not generate adequate returns on investment,” he explained.

East Nusa Tenggara (ENT) is an example of a region that is relatively difficult to reach to develop telecommunication infrastructure by commercial telco providers. The government has worked to build the necessary infrastructure so that the public can use telecommunications and internet services to help accelerate digital transformation in the area.

The Minister emphasised the importance of constructing infrastructure that corresponds to where the community resides. A BTS with a service radius of 3 km will not be optimal if it was built on a mountaintop far from community settlements and public service facilities such as schools, health centres, police stations, and even military posts.

“The BTS Tower development needs to be based on the site structure of the village, sub-district, and district. Don’t let the infrastructure be built in one place while community activities are happening elsewhere. Things like this look simple but affect the quality of service,” he said.

Therefore, the signal radius is insufficient to reach the community living places to support school activities or other public services. As a result, the school principal in the village will climb a tree in search of a signal, and children will climb mountains, hills, and so on to study. The infrastructure construction plan’s inefficiency will not benefit everyone.

Minister Johnny underscored the importance of collaboration with local governments to maximise and optimise the development of digital infrastructure on the upstream side. He acknowledged the importance of local governments in providing spatial layout for digital infrastructure placement, the location of services that require telecommunication access and contributing to land availability.

Indonesia is stepping up its digitalisation efforts to boost the national economy. Since it has become a means for Southeast Asian MSMEs to survive the pandemic, the Indonesian government is accelerating digital transformation in the e-commerce sector, and digital financial services are emerging as critical enablers.

As a response, the Trade Ministry has developed some action plans to help realise this vision. The first step is to digitise people’s markets and empower small micro enterprises (UMK). Second, the establishment of e-commerce facilitators. Third, e-commerce guidelines must be organised and strengthened, allowing MSME products to be promoted via the Portal Indonesia website.

The government is working hard to increase meaningful contributions from the digital economy sector. However, e-commerce’s contribution to Indonesia’s overall economy is still relatively small. With a total GDP of IDR 980 trillion in 2021, Indonesia’s digital economy only contributed 5.7%.

However, Indonesia has grand ambitions for its digital economy and has deployed strategies to reach USD315 billion by 2030. The 2021-2024 Indonesia Digital Roadmap is set on four pillars: digital infrastructure, digital government, digital economy, and digital society.

The government is promoting four critical digital skills to accelerate its digital economy as part of its strategy. The government admits that future demand for digital skills will be concentrated in four areas: artificial intelligence, bitcoin, cloud computing, mobile computing and Data Analytics (ABCD). ABCD skills are projected to help the national economy hit its target of US$ 315 billion by 2030.

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