December 11, 2023

Forging a Resilient Digital Indonesia

"The government of Indonesia is keen to build a digital nation, in which digital technologies help improve the livelihoods of citizens and drive productivity in key sectors of the economy," according to a report by the GSMA. "This has been highlighted in several digitalization plans announced in recent years. The main elements of the plans align with the five components of a digital nation: infrastructure, innovation, data governance, security and people."

The UK-based organization adds that "Although steps have been taken towards a digital nation, there remains room for improvement and an opportunity to accelerate progress. This is particularly crucial in the context of 5G and other emerging technologies (such as AI and quantum computing) transforming Indonesian society and contributing to the government’s target for the country to become a top 10 global economy by 2030." The report encouragingly points out: "The industry (mobile operators and other ecosystem players) will invest nearly $18 billion between 2024 and 2030, mostly on 5G networks. 5G technology is projected to contribute $41 billion to Indonesia's GDP during that period."

Having advised government leaders in countries similar to Indonesia who are trying to build a digital nation, I appreciate the GSMA's assertion that "Realizing the government's vision of building a resilient digital nation and using digital technologies to drive economic growth relies on formulating and implementing policies to advance each of the five components of a digital nation." Accordingly, the report presents the following recommendations:
  • Infrastructure: Implement spectrum pricing policies and other policy initiatives to ensure sustainable private sector investment in digital networks. Such policies will facilitate the continued expansion of the high-performance mobile networks and other digital infrastructure required to build a resilient digital nation.
  • Innovation: Take a holistic approach to digital innovation across government, supported by agile policy approaches, such as regulatory sandboxes and policy labs, and make a concerted effort to increase research funding in Indonesia.
  • Data governance: Continue on the path to the full enforcement of the personal data protection law, which was enacted in 2022, and consult widely with stakeholders across the public and private sectors on guidelines on the use of AI and other emerging technologies.
  • Security: Develop a comprehensive cybersecurity law to streamline current fragmented laws, and adopt ecosystem-wide collaboration to strengthen cyber resilience, disrupt cybercrime and tackle other online threats.
  • People: Accelerate efforts to bring more people online by closing the remaining coverage and usage gaps. Implement initiatives to build a digitally-ready workforce with the necessary knowledge and skills to utilize digital technologies across different sectors of the economy.

The report's authors adds: "The task of becoming a digital nation is multidimensional, involving many different actors from the public and private sectors and non-state institutions. Meanwhile, digital technologies continue to evolve rapidly, offering new opportunities but also challenges that need to be approached holistically. In this context, a whole-of-government approach (WGA) is essential to streamline efforts and realize efficiencies in formulating and implementing digital nation initiatives. This approach will bring together multiple stakeholders and diverse resources to provide a common solution to key issues."

In addition to Indonesia, other members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have plans to building a resilient digital nation. The recommendations presented by this report can be a useful guide for how to successfully use digital technologies to drive economic growth.

Do you agree with the report's recommendations?

Aaron Rose is a board member, corporate advisor, and co-founder of great companies. He also serves as the editor of GT Perspectives, an online forum focused on turning perspective into opportunity.

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