MAXIMIZING TECHNOLOGY

Indonesia 2018 | TELECOMS & IT | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Rudiantara, Minister of Communication and Information Technology, on overcoming geographic challenges, encouraging innovation, and promoting inclusive growth.

 Rudiantara
BIOGRAPHY
Rudiantara is currently the Minister of Communications and Information Technology of Indonesia under the Ministry of Communication and Informatics. He was inaugurated in October 2014 as part of President Joko Widodo’s new cabinet.

From a policy perspective, what are your strategies to drive a positive and inclusive disruption through digital innovation?

We cannot run from technology, which has great potential to solve wealth disparity and empower SMEs. However, it is not technology that is changing the world; people's mindsets are changing the world. People always find new ways and new business processes by maximizing the use of technology. ICT is an enabler of economic growth and social transformation, and now we can focus on maximizing technology to support economic growth. We aim to have a digital economy of USD130 billion by 2020, accounting for 11% of Indonesia's GDP. We would also like to develop our own platforms. China, for example, has found its own way to deal with technology. It does not allow Google; instead, it introduced its own search engine platform. That is why Indonesia is currently in a transition period to position itself within the digital tsunami. Everyone in Indonesia is on Facebook and WhatsApp. We cannot stop those platforms or deny their access in Indonesia; however, the government needs to position itself to protect people from the negative impacts of this technology. We are working hard with foreign investors that want to conduct their business in Indonesia, and we would like to be as competitive as possible in the international landscape.

What role can technology play in formalizing the economy?

The key to technology is broadband. We have the network. This country started to introduce 4G technology at the end of 2015. Currently, 297 regencies and cities out of 512 have 4G coverage, and we aim for all regions to be connected to broadband and 4G by 2019. From an ICT infrastructure perspective, we are number four in Asia after Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand. The challenge is great compared to our neighbors because of our geography. The investment to connect all islands by 2019 is USD1.5 billion. We built this with PPPs because we want the private sector participating in this space. By 2H2018, we will make a decision on our own satellite. In Indonesia, we need a high-speed satellite because we have to connect around 220,000 schools at the primary and secondary levels and thousands at the tertiary level. We have to connect 75,000 village offices and 10,000 village hospitals. We have already incorporated this plan into our National Strategic Project signed by the president. We cannot compete with Singapore because it is a small island; however, by 2019 Jakarta will be more competitive. There will not be much difference between Singapore and Jakarta from an ICT point of view.

How can you help create a climate that supports entrepreneurship and start-ups?

We have to provide room for people to innovate as much as possible. That is why in our ministry start-ups do not need to get permits or licenses; they only need to register. We need to give start-ups a chance to develop and see what they can do before we regulate. We have to provide room so that people can come up with something completely out of the box. It is not necessary to create a difficult, complicated process.

The decree for the National Cyber and Encryption Agency (BSSN) was ratified in June 2017. How would you assess the establishment of this agency so far?

We are working with the government to appoint the chairman of BSSN. This agency deals with cybersecurity and cryptographs. The Executive Director of Alibaba, Jack Ma, is an e-commerce advisor of the government. We are working with Ma to develop Indonesia as the base of talent development for the region. We also want to help universities focus more on technology. With this combination, foreign investors will be able to see Indonesia as not only a market but also the base for conducting business in the region.