This research examines the implementation of Indonesian government’s internet access distribution program to rural communities in Indonesia. The growing gap of I-poor and I-rich in most countries has brought about higher inequality in people’s literacy, opportunity, and economic achievement (Kagan, 2000). Indonesia, which varies in people characteristics and geographical land scape has experienced this matter particularly between the urban and rural communities (Mashud, 2012). Thus, the program aims to empower the rural community by providing internet access and infrastructure. Mainly, the program is expected to facilitate the community not only in terms of information, but also opportunities that may lead to leverage their economy. Given this, the paper argues that the program demands community engagement (Rogers, 1995; Friedland, 2001) in socialising and exercising the internet facilities. Data were gathered by mini-ethnography, interviews, and Forum Group Discussions (FGD), to examine the program implementation in Sindangheula district, Serang region, Banten province, which located in the edge of Indonesian capital. This paper reports mostly on the interviews and FGD with three respondent groups: the government representatives, the internet company representatives, and the local opinion leader including communities. It revealed that the program has benefited a part of the rural community—particularly students, yet inclusively the farmer, breeder, and home industries communities. A top-down and asymmetric approach was clearly an obstacle in empowering rural Indonesian community. The findings provide insights for government seeking to implement authentic sustainable community empowerment program in a developing country context.
Nurul Sari, Universitas Airlangga, Indonesia
Stream: Social Sciences
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