Indonesia, the Gold Mine of Social Networking in Southeast Asia
BANGKOK – Indonesia, with a population of over 250 million people, has become a gold mine for social networking sites in Southeast Asia with a growing market of millions of users.
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg visited the country on Monday and met with president-elect Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, who will lead the third largest democracy in the world.
On his first visit to the former Dutch colony, Zuckerberg said goodbye to his customary jeans and sweatshirt and was seen dressed in a suit and tie as he visited a market in Jakarta with Jokowi, who is set to take office on Oct. 20.
Zuckerberg, one of the richest men in the world with a $32 billion fortune, said his objective is to connect the entire world to the internet.
“Getting more of the population in Indonesia and businesses on the Internet is one of the biggest levers the government has to grow the economy, and it’s one of the biggest ways for Facebook to help with the economy in Indonesia,” he said, according to the Jakarta Globe newspaper.
Zuckerberg added that the authorities and telecommunication firms should work together to improve internet connectivity and speed in the Indonesian archipelago.
According to the Technology and Communication Ministry, Indonesia has 82 million internet users, accounting for 32 percent of its population, which is twice the figure given in the 2013 World Bank data.
There are about 69 million Indonesians on Facebook, placing the country in fourth position behind the United States, India and Brazil, experts say.
Between 60 and 70 percent of the users use their mobiles to connect to the web in the country, which is also the largest mobile phone market in Southeast Asia with 7.3 million devices sold in the first quarter of 2014.
Facebook has tied-up with XL Axiata, one of the leading mobile phone companies, and Ericsson in Indonesia as a part of its global Internet.org initiative, which seeks to optimize internet access through better infrastructure and efficient technology.
Twitter is another extremely popular social networking site among Indonesians, especially the youth, with 20 million active users in the country.
In fact, president-elect Jokowi, one of the most popular Indonesians on Twitter with 2.41 million followers, carried out a significant part of his election campaign through social networks by reaching out to internet users.