Jakarta. Indonesia's digital economy has been growing at the fastest pace in Asia while reaching a total value of $40 billion last year, President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo said on Thursday.
Access to the internet also expanded rapidly in the archipelago with around 171 million internet users recorded across the country according to 2018 data, the president said.
"In 2015, the value of our digital economy was $8 billion and by 2019 it had soared to $40 billion, equivalent to around Rp 560 trillion. It is estimated that by 2025, our digital economy will be worth around $133 billion," Jokowi said while opening the 2020 Indonesia Digital Summit in Jakarta, accompanied by Microsoft chief executive Satya Nadella.
As the world's fourth most populous country, Indonesia now has the most active startup ecosystem after the United States, India, Britain and Canada, Jokowi said.
"We are number five in the world, we need to underline this. We have 2,193 startups including a decacorn and four unicorns, and I have appointed one of their founders as a minister," he said, referring to Education and Culture Minister Nadiem Makarim, the co-founder of ride-hailing firm Gojek.
Jokowi praised the creativity of Indonesian entrepreneurs who he said have cleverly exploited social media to market their products.
"I never thought our people would be able to capitalize the advantages that social media and digital communication platforms offer. Now we see so many sellers offering their products on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and WhatsApp groups," he said.
“Even on my Instagram account, ads pop up all the time offering weight-gaining potions. I'm not sure if this is the best way to sell their products, but we've got to take our hat off for their creativity," the president said.
The digital economy still has plenty of room to grow in Indonesia, which has a population of 267 million, according to Jokowi.
"But I need to remind you we should not be content with being just a huge market. We don't want to just sit around watching all the technological advancement of the digital economy pass us by," he said.
Jokowi said Indonesian entrepreneurs should make use of advanced information technology to promote and sell local products in the global markets.
"Our digital economy should help us increase sales of our products. Don't just sell imported products in our marketplace," he said.
The digital economy should also create new jobs, boost exports and increase foreign exchange revenues, according to the president.
"It's our hope that the digital economy will help reduce deficits in the trade balance and the current account balance," he said.
Jokowi was accompanied by several key ministers during the event, including Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs Airlangga Hartarto, Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati, State-Owned Enterprises Minister Erick Thohir and Communication and Information Technology Minister Johnny G. Plate.
Nadiem was also present at the conference.