With the full support of the central government, West Java Governor Ridwan Kamil is determined to make the province the most industrialized in the country. Its 46.5 million population and proximity to Jakarta are among the key factors that woo foreign investment to the province.
Ridwan, who was sworn in as governor last September, said he had won strong support from President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo and Coordinating Economic Minister Darmin Nasution to implement the ambitious development plan. His first priority is to develop a super special economic zone in the northern part of the province.
Ridwan, who served for five years as the mayor of Bandung before becoming governor, named the new economic zone Rebana. It will consist of 11 special economic zones in Cirebon, Kertajati in Majalengka and Patimban in Subang. Kertajati is home to a large international airport while Patimban has a major seaport that will begin operating later this year.
“The northern part of West Java is special because this is the only area where you have an airport and seaport within an hour of each other,” said the architect in a special interview with The Jakarta Post at his office recently.
The 3,480-hectare Rebana super special economic zone will be divided into five clusters. A logistics park will cover 429 ha, creative and technology park 544 ha, energy park 126 ha and aerospace park 355 ha, while the rest will be used for residential areas.
“In three months, the governing body of Rebana must be established. I think we’re very optimistic. By the end of the year, I can take this megaproject to investors in Europe, East Asia, and the Middle East,” said the governor.
West Java is the most popular destination for foreign investment in the country. According to the Investment Coordinating Board US$5.57 billion has been invested in West Java this year.
An international newspaper recently reported that American tech giant Amazon was considering to invest US$1 billion in Indonesia over 10 years in its cloud computing unit Amazon Web Services.
“Amazon came and they said West Java would be the perfect place to establish a data center, not just for Indonesia but the Asia-Pacific. It means e-commerce businesses in ASEAN can list a data center in West Java. It is not just one location but three locations,” the governor said, declining to elaborate on the location for the investment. The value of the investment will be around Rp 30 trillion (US$2 billion), according to him.
British company Plastic Energy and West Java have signed an agreement to build five chemical recycling plants to reduce plastic pollution.
“It means I can collect all the plastic waste in West Java, put it in these five facilities and reduce the amount of plastic waste [in the province and] the ocean,” said the 48-year-old governor.
“They asked me to speed up the process. The investment is worth around $300 million. Why did they come to West Java? Because they know the leader is very pro-business and supporting the process,” said the governor.
Surbana Jurong and Enterprise, a subsidiary of Singapore’s Temasek, has also expressed interest in investing in the aerocity in Kertajati, while it is also eyeing LRT and drinking water projects. The company is also involved in preparing a transit-oriented development masterplan in Walini, part of the Jakarta-Bandung high-speed train project.
“We are applying for a permit for a special economic zone. It means anything related to exports and high technology will be exempt from export or import taxes. It’s very attractive. It’s a megascale project and this will be the core investment in West Java,” said the governor.
When asked about his strategy to attract investors, the governor replied, “The best marketer is the number one person. If it is the number one person who talks to and tries to convince investors to invest, they will believe. That’s why I have to spend a certain percentage of my time as a marketer of West Java.”
Ridwan, who worked for five years for a global architecture firm before entering politics, said he had held roadshows to lure foreign investors to the province. He said his background as a businessman was very helpful in negotiating with major foreign companies.
He also claimed he also had very good relations with President Jokowi, who was officially declared the winner of the 2019 presidential election.
“With my proven track record, [investors] will have more confidence,” said the governor.
When asked about the concern of some foreign investors over the rising conservatism of Muslims in the province, the governor said the province was not different from other provinces. He said religious factors had never been a big concern for major companies operating in the province.