The Managing Director of EKONID talks to NOW! Jakarta about the organisation’s nearly 100-year presence in Indonesia and its contribution to the economy.
What are some of your responsibilities as Managing Director?
I’ll start with what EKONID does. Traditionally we are a chamber of commerce and a membership based organisation with 500 corporate members. One of our three main functions is to help our members in terms of providing networking platforms, hosting events and also sharing information. We also help mediate communications between the government and our members as they express concern over certain matters.
The second function is the official trade and investment promotion on behalf of our government. We help companies get into the market, finding partners or necessary advice, basically accommodate business between Germany and Indonesia. This includes helping individual business partners in acquiring licences, registers, working permits, setting up companies and the whole package.
We are a non-profit, mostly self-funded organisation. Depending on the case, we ask for cost reimbursement from certain companies for the support we offer. We implemented budgets in a certain number of government programs, for example, in certain areas like renewable energy or energy efficiency, we would host conferences, business celebrations, studies and matchmakings.
Another major field of activity EKONID is focusing on is vocational training. We run a number of vocational training programmes with a variety of companies like Astra, Mercedes, SIEMENS and BAYER as well as other companies from Indonesia as well.
Part of my responsibility is oversee all of the above and it is never boring.
EKONID has officially been in Indonesia since 1973. Could you tell us a little bit about its productive endeavour so far?
Actually, EKONID is the official German-Indonesian Chamber of Industry and Commerce since 1924, for 95 years now. In 1973 we only registered our legal status as PERKUMPULAN, as an association. On a daily basis we help foster dialogue and business. EKONID organises around 200 events a year, so we are always involved in a number of things.
I have been working with EKONID for more than 21 years. In my time, we were involved in some major events, like the Technogerma in 1999. We just dug up some photos of Pak Habibie because he was president that time. We have a photo of him climbing into a Formula One car. The whole cabinet was with him that day and he visited the event two more times because it was a technology fair and he was really interested.
The highlight of last year was hosting the Asia-Pacific Conference of German Business where he had around 1,000 high-level business people the likes Global CEOs of SIEMENS, Mercedes, ministers from the region, and other VIPs. In terms of scale, this is probably one of our best moments.
Germany is one of the pioneers of sustainability efforts and eco-friendly technology. How is this reflected through EKONID?
I came to Indonesia more than 21 years ago; started just three days before the big riot in 1998. I actually started here as an Environmental Area Manager. There was an initiative financed by our ministry to promote environmental technology between the two countries. But as you can imagine with everything going on back then the issue was not prioritised.
Today, we have been doing renewable energy events every year for the last 15 years now. The programme each year includes sector studies on certain specific technologies, like hybrid systems, renewable systems, bio-mass development, and so on. Each year we pick a sector segment and we conduct studies and organise conferences around it, inviting on average 150 companies. And then we invite delegations from ten companies to share their developments. In the last ten years we’ve added energy efficiency in building or industry, and five years ago we added waste management.
In essence, we are not just encouraging our company members to adopt more sustainable practices, but we are bringing them together with highly curated technology suppliers to take action immediately.
The decision to move the capital city is official. How will this affect EKONID in your opinion?
Most likely EKONID will not relocate to the new capital city, but we will probably have a liaison office there. Our day-to-day affairs are not so much with the government or the ministries but more with our members and other businesses. Jakarta will stay as the economic capital in every way and so most of the companies will stay as well.
Any upcoming events you’d like to tell our readers about?
Indonesia is partner country of the Hannover Messe 2020 in April next year—this biggest technology fair in the world. We expect President Jokowi to come as it is tradition for partner country leaders to attend. We are involved in the planning together with the Ministry of Industry, Mr. Airlangga Hartarto.
Indonesia will have a 2,000sqm pavillion. We’ve already started doing promotional events such as the one we’re having in 3 October in Jakarta, and we’ve done road shows in Bali, Bandung, Balikpapan, and other cities to prepare for this. The ultimate aim is to connect Indonesian companies with advanced technological developments.
Thank you, Jan H. Rönnfeld, Managing Director of EKONID.