Jakarta (ANTARA) - The socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has prompted the Indonesian government to expedite the digital transformation process.

Out of the over 276 million people living in Indonesia, 196.7 million are Internet users.

Digital literacy in Indonesia is currently in the medium category and needs to be improved, according to the Communication and Informatics Ministry.

World Bank data shows that Indonesia is experiencing a digital talent gap as the nation needs at least 9 million digital talents in 15 years, or an average of 600 thousand digital talents each year, the ministry pointed out.

Communication and Informatics Minister Johnny G. Plate launched the National Movement of Digital Literacy to raise public awareness on the importance of digital competency on April 16, 2021.

The movement was followed by the launch of the National Digital Literacy Program by President Joko Widodo on May 20, 2021, which coincided with National Awakening Day. The program was aimed at accelerating the country’s digital transformation.

In facing the digital era, Indonesia plans to make its people capable and competent in using information technology, particularly the Internet, for productive activities and educational purposes.

Digital literacy events have been deemed necessary as the nation is preparing its human resources to master digital technology, apart from building various telecommunication technology infrastructures necessary for national digital transformation.

Without involving all people in the digital space, the established information and communication technology infrastructure cannot be used optimally, Plate said.

To support digital transformation, the Ministry of Communications and Informatics has carried out several activities by involving many stakeholders since 2017, he added.

“This is our joint task to ensure that every child of the nation is able to optimize Internet use. Digital literacy is a necessity to fortify netizens from the negative impacts of the Internet,” Plate remarked.

The ministry has set a target of improving the digital competence of some 100 million Indonesians by 2025, he informed.

To support the target, the ministry has carried out the Digital Talent Scholarship (DTS) Program, offering around 100 thousand scholarships annually for non-degree digital literacy courses, in collaboration with 197 partners, including global technology companies, local governments, state-owned enterprises, polytechnics, and universities, he noted.

"A number of studies have found that we need at least 600 thousand digital talents with intermediate skills every year for the next 15 years. Hence, the ministry has taken the talents development initiative for several years," Plate informed.

In 2021, the program ran quite extensively, reaching 131,204 participants, he noted.

The curricula of the program includes the development of cloud computing, artificial intelligence, the internet of things (IoT), virtual reality, augmented reality, and coding, he said.

Furthermore, it is hoped that the program's participants will increase to 200 thousand, in collaboration with more than 100 universities in Indonesia, he added.

Meanwhile, for developing advanced digital skills, a Digital Leadership Training program is being offered, which was attended by 306 participants in 2021.

The program is being provided in collaboration with four globally renowned universities -- the National University of Singapore, Tsinghua University, Harvard University, and Oxford University, he noted.

The program will target 400 participants and be further improved in 2022 through collaborations with eight world-class universities, including Cornell University, the University of Cambridge, Imperial College London, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he informed.

In 2021, the National Digital Literacy Program sought to organize 20 thousand trainings with modules and curricula covering four pillars of digital literacy—digital ethics, digital safety, digital skills, and digital culture, the minister said.

At least 110 institutions and community organizations supported the training program, which aimed at providing an understanding to the people on navigating the digital space and building the requisite skills to utilize the advancements in digital technology, he added.

By the end of 2024, 50 million Indonesians are expected to receive basic digital training, he said.

The program will target 12.4 million training participants per year in 514 districts and cities in 34 provinces across Indonesia, he added.

Indonesia's digital transformation is focused on 10 priority sectors and aims to expedite the realization of digital infrastructure for the government, economy, and society.

The sectors are digital transportation and tourism, digital trade, digital financial services, digital media and entertainment, digital agriculture and fisheries, digital real estate and urban, digital education, digital health, industrial digitization, and government digitization.

The government has compiled a Digital Indonesia Roadmap for 2021–2024 as a strategic guide to drive the nation's digital transformation process.

The guide contains 100 key initiatives that will be implemented in collaboration with all ministries, central and regional institutions, business actors, and the general public.

Indonesia’s National Movement for Digital Literacy (Siberkreasi) has been awarded the 2020 World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) Prize in the category of Capacity Building by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).

In the meantime, Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati said the government has allocated a state budget of Rp75 trillion (US$5.2 billion) for investment in digital infrastructure for the 2019–2022 period.

The channeling of large investments, satellites, fiber optic cable networks, and base transceiver stations (BT) can serve the entire territory of Indonesia, she affirmed.

Over 20 thousand villages that currently lack good Internet access can be connected to a reliable Internet system, she noted.

Schools, Islamic boarding schools, and community health centers can be digitally connected to the Internet, she added.

Thus, digital infrastructure can support digital transformation not only in the economic sector but also in the health and educational sectors that are also of great significance, she said.

Besides, digital technology has offered opportunities to conduct increasingly democratic and equitable development, she noted.

However, the minister pointed out that increasingly democratic and equitable development will not materialize if some elements of the community are unable to access technology and the Internet. Hence the development of human resources in the digital field is crucial, she added.

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Editor: Rahmad Nasution
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