Indonesia and Australia have had a somewhat rocky relationship over the last few years, and while relations have mostly normalized, experts have claimed for many years that what the Australia-Indonesia relationship needs is a bridge of business and community ties to provide it with the resilience and stability it needs to truly prosper.
The building blocks of this bridge may just turn out to be technology.
Right now, Indonesia is a hot-spot for tech start-ups, with Indonesian start-up investment reaching $3 billion dollars in 2017. Australia has already begun to branch into this lucrative new area of investment, although somewhat slowly. The muru-d tech start-up accelerator, created by Telstra, has been working with Indonesian entrepreneurs since 2016. But thanks to the digital revolution, there is still enormous potential for collaboration between Australian and Indonesian start-ups. Fostering networks of professional entrepreneurs provides chances for the exchange of both knowledge and cultural capital, both of which can only serve to enrich the relationship between the two countries at a level below the political.
Indonesia also has a rabid appetite for the internet, with 64 million Indonesians active on Facebook, its capital, Jakarta, was named the world’s most active city on Twitter. This is great news for businesses with a digital presence, as the rise of social media not only connects them with wider audiences, but also provides new markets to tap into. Companies providing diverse web-based services, from large national companies like isentia, to locally-based community businesses, like Hosting Australia, can find ample clients in the social-media savvy and tech-hungry Indonesian market, providing the sort of business connections which experts say will deepen and strengthen the bi-lateral relationship like.
Even exporting solar power to Indonesia is on the table, with a dialogue on the subject on the capacity for supply already open between the two countries, and a research proposal under development to find a way to transport power generated in Western Australia’s Pilbara region to Indonesia via a subsea cable.
Metadata may also provide a way in which technology can expand the relationship between Australia and Indonesia. The practical uses of sharing big data might not be apparent at first, but when it comes to urban planning, rolling out infrastructure to rural areas, and other aspects of upgrading and digitizing communities, sharing metadata related to population densities, traffic patterns and even the weather can provide policy makers and designers with valuable information.
Both Australian and Indonesian industries have been affected by the disruption of recent technology, in both countries banks, media outlets, education and artistic industries are all facing similar problems, and all trying to tackle the same changes. This is perhaps the biggest aspect where technology could provide the bridge in the Indonesian-Australian relationship, as collaborating on solutions bi-laterally, rather than unilaterally, is likely to provide faster and more profitable results for both countries.
As technology continues to advance, the best way for Indonesia and Australia to benefit, is to navigate the changing digital landscape together.