Why is Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo hanging out with Elon Musk?

Asoka Elon

Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo visited Washington last weekend along with other South-East Asian leaders, as his US counterpart Joe Biden seeks to court the region against growing Chinese influence.

But it was a trip to the small town of Boca Chica, Texas, that attracted more attention back home in Indonesia.

Mr Widodo had lined up a high-profile meeting with Tesla and Space X founder Elon Musk at the private space agency’s headquarters, where he was given a private tour.

As Mr Widodo praised the tech baron as a “super genius”, Mr Musk declared he was “very interested” in the future of Indonesia, a country of 270 million people.

The world’s richest man also said the country exuded “positive energy”.

“We’re going to look, from a Tesla and Space X standpoint, to try and do some partnerships in Indonesia,” Mr Musk said, flagging “future collaboration on many fronts”.


Indonesia, South-East Asia’s largest economy, seeks to cash in on the global transition to electric vehicles (EVs) by luring foreign investment from the likes of Mr Musk.

Nickel is a key component of lithium-ion battery cells, which are used in most EVs. 

So demand for the metal is rapidly increasing.


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