Wednesday, December 6, 2023 | 19:10 WIB

Looking at Indonesia’s Nickel Downstream Efforts from The Perspective of Resource Curse

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Jakarta, IO – Republic of Indonesia under the government of President Joko Widodo is intensively pursuing downstream industries, mainly in the natural resource products sector. One of which is Nickel. Indonesia’s abundant natural resource wealth is certainly a field for increasing the economic level of state revenue. Moreover, if the Government is able to ‘prosperate’ the community through the results obtained from the wealth of the country’s natural resources. 

In this opinion article, the author tries to look at the perspective of the natural resource curse which is prone to be experienced by countries/regions that are rich in natural resources but the level of community welfare is far from expectations, then the author tries to provide an opinion regarding the linkage of resource curse in the midst of government efforts. increasing the downstreaming of Indonesia’s natural resource industry. 

Downstreaming Nickel: A Way Out of the Term Natural Resource Curse?

President Joko Widodo and his staff’s steps to increase state revenues through the downstreaming of natural resource industry, one of which is Nickel. It should be appreciated because it is this step a way for the government to provide a way out of from natural resource curse. 

The ‘resource curse’ in the theory introduced by Richard Auty (1993) was followed by further research from Jeffrey Sachs and Andrew Warner (1995) find that there is a strong connection between countries with an abundance of natural resources and poor economic growth. This becomes interesting, not about the wealth of natural resources of a country. But about how the state can properly and appropriately manage the results of the abundance of nature with the economic standard of living of its people. In the perspective of resource curse, especially in terms of yield management, there are differences in each resource-rich country. Countries with abundant resource wealth sometimes succeed in development, but on the other hand they don’t. How could this happen? 

One of the things countries that are rich in natural resources has a low level of economy and people’s welfare, can be due to the management of natural resources governance by weak institutions. Weak in the sense that there is no transparency, accountability and oversight by the surrounding community. 

Indonesia, through government policies to downstream the nickel commodity industry, is expected to strengthen national economic competitiveness amid global uncertainty and can become a global key player in the nickel commodity extractive industry. The government’s step in advancing industrialization and downstreaming the natural resource industry with nickel as a commodity that has the largest reserve value in Indonesia. According to the author opinion, it is a way to avoid resource curse in the future. Construction of a nickel smelter by President Jokowi’s administration, in Morowali Regency, Central Sulawesi which adopts a green smelter in mid-2023, is a concrete step by the government in accommodating nickel natural resource products for later downstreaming. 

Read: Bali governor puts Indonesia on the spot

As a society, the authors in this opinion hope that the implications of downstream nickel industry governance for the welfare of the Indonesian people in general, and the Morowali community in particular can be well maintained through the construction of a nickel green smelter. Control, supervision and community participation accompanied by transparent institutions are certainly needed in the development process, so that the process of accountability and transparency of future results can avoid the curse of natural resources and be able to increase the country’s economic level.


I Gusti Ngurah Krisna Dana is a Master Student at Department of Politics and Government, Faculty of Social and Political Science. Gadjah Mada University, Yogyakarta, Indonesia.

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