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Bridging Digital Divide in Indonesia1

By : Achmad Zaky Syaifudin

Many people, experts, and countries perceive that digital divide issue is about
technology. If we can have access of technology we can close the digital divide. In
my opinion, it's absolutely wrong. Digital divide substantially is about information
issue. We have seen that people with more information will have more knowledge
and it make us can compete with the others. So, technology is just a tool. Whatever
tool we use to close digital divide if we are not focus on the substantial issues then it
will be failed. I've doing research how many countries solve this problem like that.
For example One Laptop Per Child program. Is that you know what happen when we
give children a laptop? They play game. I hope we realize this things that digital
divide always connected to information access. The solution is how our communities
can get access of information more.

We have many technologies to supply information to all people around Indonesia.

Television, Radio, Cell Phone, Internet, PC are some of them. The Data from our
team shows that Television and Radio penetration in Indonesia is very broad, almost
household have a television. The infrastructure is well but we must research on the
content. Is it belong to good information or bad information? all of stakeholder of our
country must assure that television can be good media that inform optimistic
message and insight to people of our country.

For Cell Phone, we have data that its user reaches almost half of population in
Indonesia. It's very huge potential technology will be used by our people to access
information. What we will concern with these things is regulate the price. Therefore
people in rural area can afford and use it well.

Internet/PC penetration will be the most our concern. The data released that people
access to both of technology is insignificant, not more that 10% of population.
Whereas we know that it gives many advantages compared with other technologies
(television, radio, and cell phone). With it, children can access many things in the
world. They can do research through internet, or just have relationship with their
friends in other countries. Internet/PC makes it possible now. We must think
strategically how Internet/PC can penetrate throughout area in Indonesia especially
rural area. We also consider that our budget is limited. Definitely, we will not use One
Laptop Per Child solution because it’s not effective and full of cost.

This essay was written to be proposed in Harvard National Model United Nations 2009 ITB Selection
One of our responsibilities is building the internet infrastructure. We will build internet
infrastructure across area in Indonesia. We hope with it all of area can have access
internet easily. To succeed this program we will cooperate with private sector. They
must deal with these things because they will take advantages if the infrastructure

We classified internet user into two groups, they are personal user and group user.
Data show that personal user can be reach only by rich household. They are not our
concern anymore. We will concern to poor household with access internet in group
like in school, internet café, campus, library, etc. Our problem is how to assure that
every school has access of internet. Because the budget is limited, we will use cross
subsidy between rich household and poor household. We will raise taxes of
technology product that usually bought by rich family. Then it will be used to
subsidized building PC and internet facility in every school in Indonesia.

We realize that we can’t face these issues by ourselves. We have to encourage

private sector and nonprofit organization (NGO) to have more concern with it. We will
carry on Regulation to private sector that give advantages to them if they can help us
handle digital divide issues. One of regulation that have we thought is tax cost
cutting. Their taxes will cut off if they have program against the digital divide.

Not just to build infrastructure, digital divide is about content. How if we have built
infrastructure and there is lack of content. Content is the most important things
beside the infrastructure. No content means useless infrastructure. We also
encourage all of public and private sector to make content through the internet. Our
Educational System must use internet based fully. Student all over Indonesia should
save their works on the internet so other students have access on it too. We hope
with this mechanism student can study effectively.

All of these programs must work effectively. We will encourage all of Government
staff to support these programs. They must know how important this program to their
country. If we aspire to be Great Country we must have Great People too. It needs
knowledge/information to create Great People.

The conclusion is digital divide issues have many relation with two things,
infrastructure and content. How can infrastructure reach and how can content access
by all of people. These two issues are very important to close digital divide. We need
a regulation to engage private sector because it is not just government responsibility.
Moreover the budget of our country is very limited. The engagement of private sector
to succeed our program is very important.