Time to take Jakarta seriously

Davey Meelker

More than six years have past since I set foot in the chaotic city of Jakarta. Now, the city is still bustling as ever, but much has changed. Nowadays, the sky is the limit in Indonesia’s capital. Literally. Countless skyscrapers fill the skyline. In the huge fancy malls Jakarta’s upper and growing middle class shop for Louis Viton, Gucci, Bvlgari or other overpriced fashionable items. Six years ago I was a little ashamed about my fancy camera, electronics and lifestyle. Now I see many Indonesians walking on the street with even more advanced camera’s, phones and computers than we are carrying. The average car on the street here is twice as big, shinny and comfortable than those in Amsterdam. Although around 50% of the Indonesians still live on less than two dollars a day, business is booming in the capital of Indonesia.

While an economical crisis is ransacking the West, the economic prospects are still optimistic for Indonesia. There is no evidence that the upward trend of economic growth of the last ten years will be interrupted. During this time, the GDP grew at a yearly rate between 3,5% and 6,5%. In the midst of the economic crisis Indonesia established an annual GDP growth of 6% in 2010 Indonesia. Combined with India and China, Indonesia is the only G20 country posting economic growth during the current recession. Even though this caused Indonesia’s poverty rate to drop by 5.26% the last six years, there is still a big job to do. The Jakarta Post front page of today covered a story of the huge malnutrition of the Indonesian children. In 2010 35,6% of the children below the age of five, and in total 26,7 million children, experienced stunted growth as a result of malnutrition. The great challenge Indonesia has to face is to spread the wealth we encountered in Jakarta, from the haves to the have-nots of Indonesia.

Many Westerners often only see this dreadful side of Indonesia, but overlook its success. Off course, Asian countries are recognised as fast growing countries and considered as potential trade partners, but what the West often not sufficiently realise is that there is a powerful economical centre forming here. Yesterday we Interviewed the Al Jazeera correspondent of Indonesia, Step Veassen, and she stressed: “The Europeans aren’t aware about what is going on in Asia for example: Asia is booming. There are so many things going on here. Still thinking that Europe is the centre of the world is thought of the past.”

For my recently graduated friends it is very difficult to find a proper job in the Netherlands, in particular one which is at their level of education. This is the talk of the day on every party and gathering of newly graduates in Amsterdam. Many recently graduated Jakartans in their twenties we have met so far do not have those worries. For them their future has never been this bright. My tip for the educated Europeans: try your luck in Jakarta, where you are welcomed with open arms. Maybe the brain drain of which Indonesia suffered from for many years will reverse.

3 responses to “Time to take Jakarta seriously”

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