I am happy with the growth in this sector: ICT growth has been between 9% to 11% year on year, higher than most sectors in Indonesia.
ASEAN BUSINESS LEADERS: How do you envision the future of development of the ICT industry in Indonesia?
RUDIANTARA: Among all the ASEAN countries, Indonesia's infrastructure is not part of the top's list. Indonesia is an archipelago country with over 17,000 islands with population of over 260 million. It is our role and objective to drive and to provide the most basic connectivity throughout Indonesia to our people. So far, the coverage in major cities, for example, Jakarta is well comparable to what we see in more advanced countries, like Singapore. However, if we shift towards the rural areas, network speeds are slower and less reliable. This is an obvious challenge, the people in remote areas have no choice but to bear heftier costs for such lower level of service. We plan by 2019, all 514 regents and major cities in Indonesia can gain access to the broadband backbone and stay connected.
While most operators are focused on economic gains to ensure financial feasibility for their businesses, we base our next line of decisions to benefit our people. We focus more on the economic viability and that is why we started the Palapa Ring. This project involves building a 12,000 km fiber optic cable network, mostly submerged fiber optic complimenting fiber optic network built by operators to provide high speed Internet to Indonesians in both the urban and rural areas across the country which will reach 514 regents and major cities throughout Indonesia. The development strategy of the Palapa Ring is structured as Public-Private Partnership project where the winner consortium was appointed to design, build and operate the network. To date, I am happy with the growth in this sector; ICT growth has been between 9% to 11% year on year, higher than most sectors in Indonesia. We are already positioning our ICT sector to become an enabler to the economic growth and social transformation for Indonesia. We have an ambitious target to achieve by 2020 which is to boost our digital economy to reach $130 Billion, to reflect around 11% of our GDP.
ASEAN BUSINESS LEADERS: Can you elaborate on some of the strategic steps in order to achieve your ambitious target?
RUDIANTARA: We have identified 7 challenges and they are: (1) Human Capital (2) Funding (3) Taxation (4) Logistics (5) Customer Education (6) Cyber Security (7) ICT infrastructures.
To address these challenges, we came up with 31 initiatives, to be performed by the joint efforts of several ministries in the country. These initiatives will form the roadmap of the e-commerce for Indonesia. The Palapa Ring Project is an example of one of our initiatives. When completed, ICT infrastructure will no longer remain an issue.