SoftBank chief wants to help Indonesia build a new smart capital

SoftBank Group has joined a growing list of global investors keen to participate in building a new US$34 billion capital in Indonesia. PHOTO: REUTERS. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

JAKARTA, Jan 10, 2020, Bloomberg. SoftBank Group has joined a growing list of global investors keen to participate in building a new US$34 billion capital in Indonesia, The Business Times reported.

SoftBank chief executive and founder Masayoshi Son met Indonesian President Joko Widodo in Jakarta on Friday and expressed the serial investor’s interest in being part of the project. Mr Son, who met the president for a second time in six months, said SoftBank wanted to support the building of a smart and green city loaded with artificial intelligence, although didn’t say how much his group would invest.

Indonesia is set to begin construction of the new capital on Borneo island as Mr Joko seeks to ease pressure on the congested and sinking Jakarta, the current capital. Regular flooding in the Jakarta metropolitan area, home to almost 30 million people, and the need to spread economic growth beyond the main Java island have prompted Jokowi, as the president is known, to fast-track the capital relocation.

The new city will be dotted with world-class educational institutions, modern hospitals, botanical gardens and backed by a environmentally-friendly transportation system with only electric vehicles, according to officials. Investors from China, the Middle East and the US have shown interest in developing the city, Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment Luhut Pandjaitan has said.

“We didn’t discuss specific numbers,” Mr Son told reporters. The discussion with Jokowi centred on building a smart city using the newest technology that will be green and supported by lots of artificial intelligence, he said.

SoftBank’s investment in the new capital will be in addition to the US$2 billion the group has committed for the development of electric vehicles and renewable energy sectors in Indonesia, Mr Son said.

The government has identified about 256,000 hectares of land on the island of Borneo for the yet-to-be-named capital – about four times the size of Jakarta. Jokowi is counting on private and state-owned entities to bear about 80 per cent of the cost of building the capital. The authorities plan to begin construction of the new city by the end of 2020 and relocate the capital in phases from 2024.

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