If you didn't already know, Indonesia is moving its capital from Jakarta to east Kalimantan.
The brand new capital will be built from scratch and is named Nusantara.
"A world-class smart city"
Indonesia President Joko Widodo, commonly known as Jokowi, attended Temasek’s annual sustainability event Ecosperity 2023 on Wednesday (Jun. 7).
The topic on the second day of the conference was on net-zero cities. He spoke about Nusantara at Ecosperity, and described it as such:
"A world-class smart city, surrounded by nature, a green city with 65 per cent forest. The first carbon neutral city in Indonesia, which has world-class education and facilities."
He said that he believes Nusantara will be a comfortable city to live in and to do business in.
In a low voice, Jokowi added: "I know, housing prices here [in Singapore] have risen very high."
Much to the amusement of the audience, he teased: "Maybe, living in Nusantara can become an option."
Three times the size of Singapore
At 256,000 hectares, Nusantara is three times the size of Singapore and four times the size of Jakarta.
The whole endeavour is expected to cost USD34 billion(S$45.8 billion).
In his speech, Jokowi worked to address the fair share of doubts that the ambitious project has received.
He boasted that the government has readied 300 investment packages worth USD2.6 billion (S$3.5 billion) in housing, transportation, energy, technology and others that will be offered to investors.
On Nusantara reaching its minimum population level, Jokowi said there was no cause for concern, as Indonesia has the fourth largest population in the world.
What about incentives? "Easy, easy lah. I was also a businessman," said Jokowi, adding that the government has prepared measures like fiscal incentives, tax holiday and super deduction tax.
Jokowi shared that construction is still ongoing. The basic infrastructure and the central government offices can be expected to be built next year using the national budget.
One of the first things that the government will be building in Nusantara is a botanical centre, Jokowi said, as he believes that the government must work on both economic success and sustainability.
Project will continue under next president
Another concern is the political will of the government, or fear that the project will lose steam.
Jokowi is well into his second and final term in office and Indonesia is on track to elect a new president in 2024.
The Nusantara project, which suffered from delays due to the pandemic, will only be fully completed in 2045.
Jokowi addressed this question with light humour at the start of his speech:
"I am glad to be here, and on this beautiful day, I would like to take the opportunity to ask you: Who will win next year's presidential election?"
Following some laughter from the audience, he continued on to say: "Ah, wrong speech."
He apologised for the "mistake", and followed to say:
"But seriously, our friends in Singapore know us so well that whoever will lead Indonesia will be focused on turning this magnificent country into the powerhouse and giant of Asia.
So everything will be fine. No need to worry. Your investment in Indonesia will continue to be safe, and also the continuity of Nusantara capital city development."
"Very big" potential in renewable energy
On energy transition, Jokowi said Indonesia has "very big potential" in renewable energy -- nearly 434,000 gigawatts in geothermal, wind, solar, biofuel, and hydropower.
Adding on the potential in hydropower, he mentioned that Indonesia has 4,400 rivers, 128 of which are large rivers.
One potential channel is Kayan River in Kalimantan, which could be a green energy source for the green industrial park in North Kalimantan.
After sharing some statistics about Indonesia's trade surplus, inflation rates and socio-political stability, Jokowi ended off his speech by inviting the attendees to join Nusantara:
"So, now, all [that remains] is you. Jump on board and join us to become multi-trillion dollar economy. So I suggest you, don't wait too long -- don't just sit and watch. This is a golden opportunity."
Top images via Ecosperity Week 2023 and Nusantara.