[PRESS RELEASE] Digital Transformation: Is It Inclusive for Indigenous People in Indonesia? | Difussion #63

November 23, 2021 7:59 am || By

Yogyakarta, November 12, 2021 – The level of internet penetration in Indonesia has reached a relatively high percentage. Nevertheless, the number is still centralized in certain areas. Given the magnitude of the role of the internet in various aspects of human life, internet services also need to reach other regions or communities, such as the community of indigenous peoples. To further investigate the relationship between the internet and indigenous peoples, the Center for Digital Society (CfDS) UGM, in collaboration with BEM FH Universitas Mulawarman presented Difussion #63 entitled ‘Digital Transformation: Is It Inclusive for Indigenous People in Indonesia?‘. The event invited Irnasya Shafira (Research Associate CfDS UGM) and Tody Sasmitha (Faculty of Law UGM) as speakers and Andi Muhammad Awaluddin Alhaq (BEM FH UNMUL) as a moderator. Difussion #63 was broadcasted live through YouTube Livestream (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XwT1XNho1es)

Indonesian Digital Transformation and Its Challenges

In her presentation, Irnasya focused on the discussion of indigenous peoples in Papua. According to her, discussions of indigenous peoples cannot be generalized because of the characteristics of indigenous peoples that are very diverse. Based on data on the proportion of internet use by individuals by the province in 2019, Papua is included in one of the provinces occupying the bottom three ranks. There are several factors inhibiting internet penetration to indigenous peoples in Papua, including:

  • Geography

Indigenous peoples generally create a way of life based on their domicile. This makes them live in an isolated community between each other. Consequently, the extension of the government’s hand often does not reach their residence. The question that arises then is about how physical internet infrastructure development can reach them. In fact, the availability of physical infrastructure is the first step for the implementation of digital transformation.

  • Culture

Introducing the internet as a new resource for indigenous peoples requires a process of acculturation since the internet itself is a part of the culture. Therefore, raising the internet as a resource that does not threaten and can improve the quality of the life of indigenous peoples becomes a challenge.

  • Political urgency

Indigenous peoples need to find the urgency to adopt the internet and become part of digital transformation. In this case, education to indigenous peoples regarding the importance of digital transformation needs to be given.

  • Human resource

Indigenous peoples need to be prepared with digital literacy so that they can utilize the internet properly and wisely.

Irnasya then emphasizes, “If the question is about whether the digital transformation program has been inclusive to indigenous peoples? I don’t think so, but let’s prepare for the future.”

Urgency and Impact of Digital Transformation for Indigenous Peoples

It is undeniable that access is vital for digital transformation. Four digital inclusion elements in New Zealand can be considered in discussions on digital inclusion for indigenous peoples in Indonesia. First, there are reasons for indigenous peoples to transform digitally. Second, the availability of access for indigenous peoples to obtain the internet. Third, good internet utilization capabilities. Fourth, trust of indigenous peoples in the digital world which generally encourages people to submit most controls in themselves to people who have never been encountered.

However, before discussing digital inclusion, it is necessary to reflect on how inclusive each individual is in interpreting indigenous peoples. Tody argues that if possible access is prioritized, it is the same as providing the internet as a double-edged sword to be utilized or misused. Therefore, the idea of digital inclusion needs to be more sensitive to the context. Digital inclusion also needs to be seen through a more comprehensive side. For example, the impacts that arise when indigenous peoples have transformed digitally need to be further investigated. In addition, alignment between digital transformation with local knowledge is also a separate issue that is feasible to be discussed.

Therefore, other community groups may not necessarily impose specific measures regarding digital transformation to indigenous peoples. Indigenous peoples must be encouraged and supported to find their own ways and goals in using technology, including finding the urgency of the utilization of technology and how they will mitigate the risks arising. At the closing of his presentation, Tody reaffirms, “Do not let the digital inclusion exceed indigenous peoples from their own identity. This should be our concern together.”

Author: Aridiva Firdharizki
Editor: Firya Q. Abisono