[Updated at 09:17 p.m. on Tuesday, March 10, 2015]
Jakarta. Indonesia can improve its global competitiveness ranking in the information and communications technology sector against its regional peers should the country identify the sector as a development priority, executives from global management consulting firm McKinsey & Company said on Monday.
Indonesia is the fourth-most-populous nation and its $850 billion economy ranks the 16th biggest in the world.
However, when it comes to ICT capabilities, the country ranks low, sitting at 85th out of the 148 nations reviewed in the World Economic Forum’s Global Information Technology Report 2014.
The report assesses a country’s network readiness and how prepared it is to apply the benefits of ICT to its economy.
“We think ICT can be a primary factor in driving the economy and social developments in Indonesia, but it requires a holistic agenda,” said Michael Gryseels, managing partner at McKinsey & Company Singapore, who deals with media, telecommunications and technology in Southeast Asia.
Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore rank higher than Indonesia in the WEF’s report, sitting at 50th, 78th and 19th places respectively.
When asked whether Indonesia could achieve a higher rank, Phillia Wibowo, partner and president director at McKinsey & Company Indonesia, said yes, but the country would need to address its shortage in skilled ICT workers.
Government agencies must work together in setting up an ICT agenda and road map linked to the country’s economic and social development priorities in the short term, she said.
This also includes efforts to enable small and medium enterprises and the government to take the full benefits of ICT, she added.
A McKinsey report revealed on Monday that Indonesia faced a shortfall of about nine million skilled and semi-skilled ICT workers between now and 2030.
McKinsey cited India as an example of a country with a clear ICT road map. McKinsey liked the fact that the prime minister has targeted every Indian citizen to have a smartphone by 2019, Gryseels said.
About 74 percent of the Indian population has a mobile phone, most of which are owned by urban Indians.
India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, has also spearheaded initiatives to emphasize the use of technology to address issues ranging from farming to governance.
Correction: A previous version of this story quoted Michael Gryseels as saying every Indian citizen to have a cellphone by 2019. He meant all Indian to have a smartphone by the year. The Jakarta Globe regrets this error.