How much do Go Jek drivers earn

Berlin's husband in Jakarta

You don't have to be an expert to quickly realize that traffic is one of the central problems in the Indonesian capital Jakarta. Kariem El-Ali noticed this on his first day there. The 36-year-old Berliner is on an exchange in Jakarta for a month for the Senate Department for Economics, Technology and Research. As part of the Starthubs AsiaBerlin initiative, the Zehlendorfer is exploring ways in which Berlin startups can network with startups in Jakarta as well as Bangalore in India and Manila in the Philippines. El-Ali also collects ideas for the revival of the town twinning, whose 25th anniversary is to be celebrated in 2019.

In Jakarta, a metropolis of ten million, there is almost always rush hour, 20 kilometers can take two hours. Anyone who has a business meeting has a lot to read with them when they are out and about. The - mostly quite large - cars still do not have their own bar or built-in kitchen, but if the development continues like this, this business idea would probably also make sense. An alternative to four wheels in a traffic jam is a moped taxi via the “Grab” apps (advertising slogan: “the largest pool of drivers in Southeast Asia” with the fastest booking service) or the Indonesian equivalent “Gojek”. After an initially bitter struggle against the illegal competitors, the popular taxi company Blue Bird has now teamed up with them.

“Gojek” - Kariem El-Ali calls it “the flagship app” - has all sorts of other offers: tickets, massage, groceries. The Gojek drivers used to wait wildly for customers on the streets, now customers order their (moped) taxi mobile, can track the driver and find out the price in advance. The business model also opens up new customers for them. The drivers can be recognized by their grass-green jackets, they also have helmets for their customers - and offer them a cape when it rains. The plastic skin helps only to a limited extent in the heavy tropical showers and a tour through aquaplaning is not really a pleasure, but there are many mopeds and they are cheap. To get hold of a “Blue Bird” taxi in one of the tropical showers is more of a matter of luck. After half an hour of waiting in the taxi queue at the shopping center, El-Ali finally ordered a car via app on this wet afternoon - from Uber.

The Berliner also found his apartment digitally: via Airbnb. “In other cities, it's usually very business-like. My landlord even bought milk, cornflakes and coffee here before I arrived and brought sweets over there, ”says E-Ali, smiling, listing the advantages of the apartment platform, which his employer in Berlin doesn't really like.

However, El-Ali still makes notes from his conversations in the old-fashioned way with a pen in a blue A5 notebook, his program for the month in Asia is printed out in a red briefcase. Digitalized work like at his former employer Siemens (“they also have other financial possibilities”) is far from everyday life in the Berlin administration, as in many medium-sized German companies at home. El-Ali was amazed that his colleagues all use private email addresses - but can access practically all data online.

Things that Berlin still wants to tackle as e-files and e-government. El-Ali could hardly believe that employees in Jakarta feed in prices for groceries, gasoline and rents every day - the governor personally checks the inflation rate determined from this every week, he says. Rising prices and dissatisfaction with them can be dangerous for politicians in Indonesia. “A federal office does it for us,” El-Ali muses. “If I imagine the Governing Mayor Müller checking the prices every week…” He adds: “That might be an idea for a Berlin app developer.” In Jakarta, colleagues in the Smart City department develop apps for the city administration. El-Ali likes the atmosphere there, almost everyone is under 35 "and there is a spirit of a co-working space".

The economist, who studied in Potsdam and Warsaw, came to the Senate Department in 2014 as a career changer after working for a medium-sized shelf manufacturer from Hesse and Siemens. After stops in the Middle East, he wanted to dock again at home. "Foreign trade, trade fairs, European politics, European and international cooperation" is on his business card. The EU finances the stay in Jakarta through an administrative exchange program. El-Ali knows from his previous assignments in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan how important personal contacts are in many countries in order to get something off the ground. Perhaps, to network, he sometimes goes to the common morning exercise, which is offered to all colleagues in the city administration on Friday mornings before work.

When he arrived, he was astonished that his well-positioned colleagues in the international department in Jakarta did not know the name of the representative responsible for the city partnership with Berlin in the German embassy, ​​as he did on the sidelines of a reception for the participants in the German-Indonesian Media dialogue of the Foundation for Freedom and the Foreign Office in Jakarta noted. There were other aha effects too. El-Ali felt well armed to introduce Berlin. But the colleagues were less interested in his city portrait, they wanted to find out what solutions Berlin had taken and what the political framework conditions are, says El-Ali a few days later at a meeting in a café in the city that was knocked over by traffic. The colleagues are interested in promoting small and medium-sized companies and the Berlin-Brandenburg cluster innovation strategy, waste management and parking space management. He himself is excited to see what digital developments he can discover and contribute to the project that the Senate Department for Economics, Technology and Finance is working with the Society for International Cooperation (GIZ), the Usaha Sosial Jakarta (Plus) platform, the ImpactHub Manila and the Indo-German Chamber of Commerce in Bangalore.

Already on the plane, El-Ali met the young owner of a start-up who was invited to the Bazaar Berlin fair last year by an Indonesian invitation. She started with batik cushions, but now also offers leather bags. “She was disappointed that she only sold a little. But she didn't even know that it was not a trade fair for dealers, but for end consumers. ”With information from Starthubs, such misunderstandings could perhaps be avoided in the future.

The Berliner tries to avoid other misunderstandings from the start with his Jordanian mother. Because of his name, his colleagues immediately asked him how he was doing as a Muslim in Germany. They knew about Pegida demonstrations in Dresden and attacks on asylum seekers' accommodation. El-Ali likes to leave open whether he belongs to any religion at all (“You can't be both, but you can have something of both.”) - unimaginable in Indonesia. Johnny, one of his temporary colleagues, studied in Erfurt and had no problems there, which, to El-Ali's delight, is now also reporting in the Jakarta office. Much better than if a German would say that. The Berliner tries to avoid the topic of religion. In view of the apparently increasing Islamist tendencies in Jakarta, statements could quickly be misinterpreted.

Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, just called "Ahok", a Chinese-born Christian in the country with almost 90 percent Muslim population, who wants to be re-elected in February, is currently under massive pressure because of a statement about his political opponents with reference to a Koranic verse. In a speech, Ahok referred to the Koran verse Maidah 5:51, which his political opponents have been campaigning for years. There it says that Christians and Jews should not be taken as friends. Ahok argues that he did not say anything against the Koran, but rather: "If you are tricked by racists and cowards who use this verse to avoid voting for me, then do not choose me." His opponents are now trying to use this to his advantage To prevent re-election. He feels quoted in short, but Islamists blasphemy and organize emotionally heated mass demonstrations. The judiciary is investigating - probably also to calm the situation, which is now tense far beyond the city.

A discussion about traffic is easier then. El-Ali's colleagues immediately broached the subject. Despite special travel times for holders of even and odd number plates, Jakarta is considered by many to be the traffic jam capital of the world. In comparison, Berliners complain at a high level. In Jakarta, the car is still a status symbol, for many the first purchase as soon as you have a job. In surveys, citizens now name traffic and mass transport as the most important issues - ahead of corruption, crime and the floods.

At the moment the “car free day” is a big hit. For this purpose, a main road in the city center is closed for five hours on Sundays from six to eleven hours. The fast-growing middle class walks, jogs or cycles with children in fashionable sports outfits to the national monument and the presidential palace, everywhere vendors offer something to eat or hats against the sun, there is a folk festival atmosphere. A wonderful thing - just not a solution for the traffic and air pollution problems of the second largest metropolitan region in the world (after Tokyo-Yokohama) with a good 30 million inhabitants and one million newcomers per year. Despite the ambitious plans of the current government, but a rather rudimentary public transport network, there is still a lot to do. What could be more obvious than the topics of local public transport, park and ride and parking space management?

In the meantime there are modern and clean urban “Transjakarta” buses in which passengers pay for their journey (the equivalent of 18 to 25 cents) using an e-money card and can follow their current stay on a display board. The bus lanes are separated with concrete blocks. But the buses are usually stuck at the intersections like everyone else. Beyond the line to the old town to Kota, which is interesting for tourists, to the chagrin of the customers there are often old gray buses in use, in which it rains heavily. Even where there is a vacant place, nobody sits down. In the face of massive complaints about the behavior of men, clear logos now warn not to touch women. There are compartments reserved for women and, since April, even pink buses only for women. However, young people usually don't want to wait for them, one comes far too rarely. No wonder. The pink buses are advertised, but so far there are only twelve of the 1200 buses that transport a total of 345,000 passengers a day. By way of comparison: in addition to the U-Bahn and S-Bahn trains, a good 1,400 buses travel in Berlin, according to BVG data, and around 420,000 people use them every day. Nobody thinks of separate women's compartments here: “For God's sake, that's exactly what we don't want,” says BVG spokeswoman Petra Reetz. Anyone who gets into such a compartment runs the risk of being immediately labeled as a "fearful person".

In Jakarta they well know that they are damn late with their traffic planning. There is now a program that is intended to push back private transport in favor of public transport by 2030, including free tickets for certain user groups. The subway construction plans, some above ground and some underground, sound rather cute from a Berlin point of view, and underground transport is still largely a vision of the future. And obviously not all authorities agree on how to proceed. It is not only high tax revenues from motorists that play a role here. A Japanese company has just been awarded the contract to build the subway. In German circles in Jakarta, regrets can be heard, including the ban on paying bribes. This is a competitive disadvantage for German companies.

Since living space in the city is becoming more and more expensive in Jakarta, more and more middle-class employees are moving further outside. Around 1.4 million people commute to the city every day. Where possible, El-Ali's colleagues leave their car or moped in a parking lot, which is usually privately managed, and take the train, because it's faster, also a Park & ​​Ride system. With public parking management, the city could direct traffic and earn money. As smart as things are already happening in Jakarta, the concept of electronic parking tickets has so far only brought El-Ali a shake of his head: “The colleagues kept asking: And who will take care of my car?” There are always guards on Jakarta's parking lots, and shrewd businessmen make their own demands a nominal charge when parking on public roads. Pulling a ticket and simply parking the car would be far too unsafe for his colleagues. “Maybe a Berlin app developer has an idea how to solve this aspect of security,” smiles El-Ali before the waiters urge the guests to leave the place under the awning. It will not be able to withstand the tropical shower for much longer.

At the end of May 2017, the different worlds are to come together in Berlin - the StartHubs AsiaBerlin are part of the Asia-Pacific Weeks. Jakarta's governor Ahok is also expected.