Learning from Eastern Indonesia's climb up the digital competitiveness ladder
East Ventures


19 January, 2023


Learning from Eastern Indonesia’s climb up the digital competitiveness ladder

See how lessons from West Papua, East Nusa Tenggara, and West Sulawesi can help boost the digital competitiveness of other provinces

Boosting digital competitiveness in Indonesia’s eastern region has been known to be a hard task, influenced by various factors, such as the infrastructure readiness and the digital literacy of the population. 

Indonesia’s Eastern region has consistently dominated the lowest-ranked provinces in terms of digital competitiveness across the archipelago for three years. However, a number of local governments in the Eastern region have made significant strides in improving their digital capabilities in their respective provinces.

According to the East Ventures – Digital Competitiveness Index (EV-DCI) 2022 report, six provinces in the Eastern region have risen in  their ranks from last year, led by West Papua and East Nusa Tenggara. West Sulawesi, while staying consistent in rank, have started several initiatives to increase their digital capabilities.

We highlight three of Indonesia’s Eastern provinces that created astonishing improvements and efforts to drive digital competitiveness.

1. West Papua

Of all eastern provinces, West Papua experienced the highest rank, which rose from the bottom rank 30th with a score of 27.6 in 2021 to rank 19th with 34.3 in 2022. The improvement in digital infrastructure and literacy underlined the high score. 

West Papua has implemented the development of digital infrastructure focusing on the East Palapa Ring backbone network, 4G BTS towers, and internet connectivity that reaches remote locations.

Digital literacy also improved, which has led to an increased score in the human resources pillar. West Papua Province, with a score of 3.61, was the top province in the East, according to the results of the 2021 Digital Literacy Survey.

2. East Nusa Tenggara

East Nusa Tenggara’s digital competitiveness rank has risen yearly from 29th to 26th in 2022, followed with an increase of EV-DCI scores, which rose from 29.3 to 32.3 in the same year.   

The digital infrastructure has leveraged the growth of various sectors in this province. The Communication & IT ministry has inaugurated 16 base transceivers stations (BTS) by 2021, out of 421 BTS to be built in the province. In parallel with the utilization of internet connection, digital literacy among the residents and young people are enforced by the communities and government, not only to increase their digital capabilities but also to promote tourism through digital. 

From the digital player, Grab, revealed that there was business activities improvement in two areas: Kupang (East Nusa Tenggara) and Jayapura (Papua). This finding was observed from the level of lighting in those two areas where Grab exists. This collaborative study was conducted between Grab and the national university, LPEM FEB UI. 

The second finding is the new business opportunity in those two cities. Approximately 30% of GrabFood merchants and 50% of GrabKios are new ventures. Third, adopting financial products is higher with e-wallet ownership, and 60% of driver partners have insurance schemes.

3. West Sulawesi  

West Sulawesi maintained its ranking of 33rd in 2022, but saw efforts by the local administration to boost digital capabilities. One example of this was the Sandeq Festival, a cultural event featuring traditional boat competitions held in 2022. The government aimed to increase residents’ digital awareness by encouraging them to share photos and videos of the festival on social media platforms.

On top of that, the local administration, together with the national university, Institut Pertanian Bogor (IPB), has developed a high-resolution image platform called precision village data, consisting of numeric and descriptive data that describe the real condition of villages. The precise village data aims to assist the government and other stakeholders in various aspects, providing them with precise information and data so that they can develop the villages or offer aid on target. 

“There is no other option but to adopt the digital approach. As a province that was split 18 years ago, West Sulawesi still has a lot to catch up from the various sides, such as the data-based policy can deliver a good thing for us,” said Akmal Malik, acting governor of West Sulawesi during the meeting with East Ventures in Katadata Regional Summit 2022. 

The acting governor of West Sulawesi, Akmal Malik received the EV-DCI placard from East Ventures’ Operating Partner, David Audy, Jakarta, November 2022

The acting governor of West Sulawesi, Akmal Malik received the EV-DCI placard from East Ventures’ Operating Partner, David Audy, Jakarta, November 2022

He also emphasizes the importance of collaboration between the government, universities, academics,  and communities in any approach to increase the digital awareness, literacy, and competitiveness among the West Sulawesi residents. 

David Fernando Audy, Operating Partner at East Ventures appreciates government efforts to drive digital transformation in each province. “We realize that each local government has its distinctive approaches to generating digital awareness and transformation in their provinces. In addition, if we aim to propel the digital competitiveness among provinces, we need to keep promoting collaboration between all stakeholders. We hope our EV-DCI report will be the benchmark for every region and city to keep up their digital competitiveness,” said David.