Indonesia: President vows to invest in tech skills

Jakarta — Indonesian President Joko Widodo appeared at ease as he rode Jakarta’s new MRT alongside the Japanese ambassador on June 25, stopping to pose for selfies with passengers.

Riding the MRT has become a signature publicity stunt for “Jokowi,” as Widodo is known in Indonesia. The construction of the city’s first public metro system, which opened in March, was the pinnacle of the infrastructure drive that characterized Widodo’s first term, and this was the sixth time that the president has ridden it with media in attendance.

Widodo, the first Indonesian president to come from outside of the country’s political or military elites, was elected in 2014 after a campaign in which he pledged to clean up politics, reform the economy, and to finally address a yawning gap in infrastructure.

During his first four years in office, Widodo oversaw the construction of more than 3,400 km of national roads, 940 km of toll roads, along with new airports and seaports across the archipelago — no mean feat in a country that has often promised, but failed to deliver such large-scale projects. The MRT project, which allows passengers to bypass the Indonesian capital’s relentless traffic, had been dormant for three decades. It was Widodo who finally got it built. (Nikkei)