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Crossroads of civilizations
Indonesia is something of an unnoticed giant. With more than 260 million people, it is the fourth largest country in the world. Furthermore, half of its population is below the age of 30. As such, it is the missing ‘BRIC’ in the group of emerging markets on the road to becoming the world’s largest economies. Government policies are currently boosting the country’s development: tax reform has freed up capital for an infrastructure boom and redistributive policy has boosted the spending of the lower middle classes. More notable however, is that Indonesia stands at the crossroads of emerging trade links. For China, Indonesia has a ‘special connection’ in the Belt and Road Initiative and India’s Prime Minister Modi just visited the country as part of its Act East policy. Moreover, Indonesia is taking a central role in expanding the connections of ASEAN (the regional intergovernmental bloc) with the outside world. This builds on an old tradition. Before the modern age, ancient empires like Srivijaya and Majapahit were maritime trading hubs at the crossroads of civilizations. Modern Indonesia seems to be following in their footsteps.
Assisting an agricultural revolution
Throughout the African continent, 240 million people live in poverty, undernourishment has been rising over the last two years, and climate change is intensifying droughts. These facts often obscure the potential within Africa’s rapidly rising middle class, fast-growing economies and agri-food sector that is expected to rise to $1 trillion by 2030. Africa accounts for 60% of the world’s available arable land and is home to multiple freshwater resources suitable to irrigation but yet under- or misused. At the recent foodFirst conference, the President of Wageningen University stated that Africa awaits a quantum move, drawing an analogy with Brazil’s path of transformation into one of the most productive agricultural countries. Key to assist this revolution is technology. Massive gains are to be made in post-harvest handling and logistics, as in Sub-Sahara Africa 30-50% of production is lost at various points in the value chain. Huge potential also lies in assisting African ‘agripreneurs’ with scale-up of technologies, from mobile banking services to mobile applications to enhance productivity.
Don’t make the delivery man ring twice
Online retail sales in the largest 20 markets could hit $1.6 trillion in 2020, an 85% increase over 2015. However, the growing urban congestion caused by commercial vehicles delivering e-commerce packages could represent as much as 2-4% of city GDP. Dutch research, for instance, shows that half of all journeys in Amsterdam is held up by a delivery van or truck. Consequently, the logistics sector is taking action to reduce kilometers driven and number of deliveries. Dynamic planning, load pooling, e-commerce ready packaging and the use of alternative electric vehicles can make parcel deliveries more efficient and environmentally friendly. Nevertheless, consumers have to cooperate as well. With one in four customers not home at first delivery, options such as click & collect and parcel lockers are viable alternatives. The delivery rate could also improve with in-vehicle or even in-home delivery, where you can control and monitor the deliverer entering your home by using smart locks and cameras. With an average of 40-50% slack in parcel deliveries, there is a lot to be gained from these solutions.