AIS Forum Collaborates with the United Kingdom to Enhance the Digital Ecosystem in Coastal Areas through Indonesia Digital Ecosystem Assessment (IDEA)

June 11, 2024

The Archipelagic and Island States (AIS) Forum, in collaboration with the UK-ID Tech Hub, has successfully delivered the Indonesia Digital Ecosystem Assessment (IDEA) to examine the development of digitalisation in coastal areas of Indonesia. Supported by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Indonesia and the Coordinating Ministry for Maritime Affairs and Investment (CMMAI), IDEA was conducted in five regions: Labuan Bajo (East Nusa Tenggara), Lake Toba (North Sumatra), Borobudur (Central Java), Likupang (North Sulawesi), and Mandalika (West Nusa Tenggara). The program culminated in a Multi Stakeholder Forum held on Tuesday, 4 June 2024, in Jakarta.

Initiated in 2023, IDEA was inspired by the digitalisation-led resilience in those areas during the COVID-19 pandemic when physical contact and movement were restricted. In many parts of the world, digital tools and platforms not only ensured the continuity of these communities, but also introduced them to new opportunities and larger audiences, highlighting the unique characteristics of theirs. Yet, challenges persist in fully optimising these opportunities, such as the lack of digital literacy and limited supporting policies. This initiative aims to identify these gaps and suggest optimal actions to improve the digital ecosystem in the aforementioned 5 (five) areas, with the hope of enhancing the quality of life for the local coastal communities.

“Through this initiative, we are committed to understanding better what the “digital needs” of coastal communities are. The assessment will help us to develop targeted, inclusive and innovative solutions that are driven by the vast potential of digitalization, which ultimately empower coastal communities.” said the Deputy Resident Representative of UNDP Indonesia, Sujala Pant.

Throughout its journey, the IDEA initiative has inclusively facilitated and voiced the concerns of coastal communities, especially regarding post-COVID-19 recovery challenges and their state of digitalisation. It has also incorporated the voices of women entrepreneurs and people with disabilities, aiming to make the assessment gender-responsive and representative of all community members' needs. Issues frequently raised include the digitalisation of business ecosystems, collaboration with marketplaces, development of digital infrastructure in the regions, and improvement of digital literacy needed by the community. Additionally, by involving various stakeholders, including the government, private sector, academia, and civil society organisations, this initiative is designed to identify challenges and opportunities in the digital ecosystem and develop measurable and sustainable action plans.

The results of the IDEA were presented to a broader audience via a multi-stakeholder forum, providing opportunities for collaboration among policymakers and further enrichment of the findings. By involving various stakeholders – including government, private sector, academia, and civil society organisations – this initiative has taken a holistic approach to developing measurable and sustainable action plans aimed at enhancing the digital economy, which emphasises the importance of cross-sector collaboration to create a resilient and sustainable digital ecosystem.

Matthew Downing, Deputy British Ambassador for Indonesia and Timor-Leste, said, "This year is a special year as we celebrate the 75th Anniversary of diplomatic relations between the UK and Indonesia. The UK has a long history of supporting tourism, which we recognise as vital to our economy. I therefore look forward to sharing our findings from the IDEA research today so that we can widen our collaboration and create better solutions for all stakeholders. Through this project, it’s clear that there are tremendous opportunities for growth and innovation. By working together, we can address the challenges and opportunities identified and use these insights to drive collective action, enhancing the digital economy in Indonesia’s blue economy and tourism areas.”

Jodi Mahardi, Deputy Coordinating Minister for Maritime Sovereignty and Energy at CMMAI, expressed full support for the assessment results. In his remarks, Jodi Mahardi stated that IDEA will become one of the digital ecosystem development programs that can be implemented not only in Indonesia but also in other island and archipelagic countries. "We believe that the results of the IDEA assessment will have a significant positive impact on the development of the digital ecosystem in coastal areas," said Jodi Mahardi.

It is hoped that the IDEA assessment can provide a strong foundation for further development, creating an environment that supports innovation and digital economic growth for coastal communities. With the spirit of collaboration and innovation, AIS Forum and UK-ID Tech Hub are determined to drive inclusive and sustainable digital transformation for Indonesia's coastal communities through the IDEA initiative.