Building the E-conomy
    Category: Issues & Ideas By : R Joe Regan Read : 1113 Date : Wednesday, July 01, 2017 - 09:43:43

    Courtesy of Google Indonesia

    Indonesia has the potential to become an economic powerhouse in the digital economy, according to Google Indonesia Managing Director Tony Keusgen. Speaking to the British Chamber of Commerce Indonesia last month, Tony noted that Indonesia now has the world’s fourth largest number of Internet users, some 110 million. “That’s not even half the population!” Tony says. He predicts that 215 million Indonesians will be online by 2020, which will have a major impact on the economy.

    Mobile will be the technology to get all those new users online. “Many people are discovering the Internet for the first time in their lives on a smartphone,” he says. He forecasts that seven out of 10 Indonesian users will access the Internet only from a smartphone or similar device. “Indonesia really was, and is, the first country to be mobile only,” he says.

    The government has stated its goal to have 1,000 startups by 2020. If realized, Tony says, that would equate to 13 million new jobs. However, to get to that goal, Tony identifies three challenges that must be faced.

    1) Developers

    Skilled software developers are crucial in any digital economy. “That’s really the biggest missing link in Indonesia, ensuring the openness and access to talent,” says Tony. When President Jokowi visited Google’s California headquarters in March 2016, Google pledged to help train 100,000 Android developers by 2020, and so far Google claims to have already trained over 20,000.

    2) Leveraging the Net

    SMEs are the backbone of the Indonesian economy, yet they often lack the resources and know-how to compete online. “The truth is, something like only 13% of SMEs have any sort of online presence. And we know that them getting online will actually help them grow faster,” says Tony. Google is trying to encourage SMEs to leverage the web to grow inside and outside the country. “I’d love to see more startups move offshore, and leverage the economies of Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam to wildly expand offshore and export from Indonesia to these lands. The Web is the perfect way to do it,” says Tony.

    3) Better Access

    Tony would like to see faster and better Internet access in Indonesia. “Average Internet speeds in Indonesia are the poorest in the whole of Southeast Asia,” says Tony. To help overcome this, Google is optimizing its software specifically for Indonesia, so that it automatically compensates for slower speeds or sporadic coverage. “Rather than trying to turn Indonesia into Silicon Valley, it’s actually turning Silicon Valley into Indonesia,” says Tony. Overall, Tony remains optimistic: “The Indonesian economy will grow a Singapore economy every two years, very shortly. When you think of where in Asia to come, you can’t look past those numbers.”

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