Southeast Sulawesi’s Promising Development


The Indonesian province of Southeast Sulawesi is blessed with abundant natural resources that provide a livelihood for its residents while also drawing investors in various sectors. Agriculture, plantation, forestry, maritime and fisheries, tourism, and mining comprise the province’s top investment sources.

The potential is well-spread across 38,140 square kilometers inland and 114,879 square kilometers of water area. Approximately 2.7 million inhabitants live in 15 regencies and two cities in the province.

There are various commodities to be found in the mining sector, both fully explored and untapped, spread around the province’s regencies. The most notable is Buton Island, the country’s largest asphalt producer. An estimated 3.8 billion tons of bulk asphalt deposits are located in the Buton and North Buton regencies.

Southeast Sulawesi also possesses a vast nickel ore supply of approximately 97.4 billion tons in North Kolaka, Kolaka, South Konawe, Konawe, and Bombana regencies (Kabaena Island). Some nickel ore’s various uses include being one of the materials for coins, automotive frames, and rechargeable batteries for electric vehicles (EV). As the government has aimed to increase the manufacture and use of EV, the need for nickel is expected to also rise.

While asphalt and nickel ore have been widely explored, one of the region’s underutilized commodities is gold. The province is estimated to have 1,125 million tons of gold deposits, which are currently being examined by researchers around Bombana Regency and other areas. The demand for gold is steadily high due to its highly varied use. One notable example is the electronics industry, which utilizes gold as a conductor in its products. In the construction sector, gold reflects sunlight radiation inside the glass.

Other potential commodities include quartz sand (5 billion tons), marble (206 billion cubic meters), clay (884 billion cubic meters), onyx (547,000 cubic meters), lime (1.6 trillion cubic meters), manganese (6,000 hectares), iron sand, phosphate, chromite, and magnesite.

Besides the mining sector, the provincial administration excels in nature management. It helps residents reap the utmost benefits in the agriculture, tourism, forestry, and energy sectors. Food crops in the agricultural industry include rice, cassava, sweet potatoes, corn, sago, peanuts, and soybeans. Natural and cultural attractions draw both domestic and international tourists in the tourism field. Some notable destinations include the coral triangle in the Wakatobi archipelago, Liangkobori cave and Meleura, Wawonii waterfall, and Al-Alam Mosque. In the energy sector, the province has geothermal energy sources located in Lainea and Mangolo.

According to Ministry of Investment/BKPM data, throughout the third quarter of 2021, foreign (FDI) and domestic direct investment (DDI) realization in the province reached USD354.4 million and IDR1,779.0 billion, respectively.

The provincial administration remains committed to creating a conducive climate for investments. Some of the steps that are already taken to realize it are the construction, reconstruction, and development of supporting infrastructures such as roads and harbors. Halu Oleo Airport is also planned to be developed into an international airport.

The provincial administration is also focused on increasing the number of investment projects in the mining sector. It proposes several new economic zones as national strategic regions which will support its investment goals, including Routa in Konawe Regency which is currently under the development process of an integrated industrial area concept. Routa has abundant potential in mining (nickel, lime, onyx) and energy (hydroelectric and geothermal power plants). At the moment, two big companies running in Morosi, Konawe Regency, are PT Virtue Dragon Nickel Industry (VDNI) and PT Obsidian Stainless Steel (OSS). They both positively impact the economic activities of the community. The mining industry is a labor-intensive investment project. In partnership with local entrepreneurs, it will create many job opportunities, escalate commercial activities, and increase buying power.

Another sector that is expected to yield profitable investment is tourism. To support this, the development of integrated tourism has been underway, as can be seen in the Toronipa beach area, Konawe Regency. Upon completion, the beach will connect to other tourism destinations across Southeast Sulawesi.

While the COVID-19 pandemic has had its negative impacts on the province much like anywhere else, it also brought together the provincial administration, academic personnel, central government, and tourism industry players to a common goal of creating a sustainable tourism industry that is safe and beneficial for all stakeholders, especially the society. Ultimately, what is hoped for Southeast Sulawesi is to be an economically prosperous province with a beneficial relationship between society and investors.