I am quiet confidence to say that without any discussion, we will agree that Covid-19 pandemic has changed our life dramatically. However, giving up or waving a white flag is not an option. Instead, we have to mitigate it and find creative ways to cope with it.

I invite all of you to join me to stop blaming the situation. A Chinese proverb tells us: it’s better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.

Indeed, the advancement of information and communication technology (ICT) has open many doors of possibilities. Today, the practices of working from home, e-learning, and e-commerce, to name a few, are already commonplace and widely accepted without meaningless debate.

I urge us to not using a bird view which is too high to observe the details on the ground. But instead, we may use a dragonfly view with the multifaceted and colourful perspectives. By doing so, we may stay close to the phenomenon and grasp an overview without losing the details or the specificities of each context.

In this short welcoming remarks, I will share some perspectives that hopefully they will bind together our collective experiences.

Firstly, I observe that ICT is a life-saviour during the Covid-19 pandemic time. To convince ourselves, let’s throw back our imagination into the beginning of 2000, around two decades ago. What would be happening if a pandemic like Covid-19 hit us at that time. I am sure that we would get very different stories, especially in the contexts where the reliable and affordable ICT had not yet in place.

We understood that during this challenging time, effectiveness is much more important than perfection, especially in the inception time of the pandemic. But nowadays, we should re-emphasize how to improve the quality of our life, in terms of works, learning, and so on. Our claim of emergency after the Covid-19 pandemic hitting us more than one and a half year may not be valid any longer, or at least, less valid.

Secondly, the Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated our ICT adoption. I observe that ICT is a game-changer for those who are able to adapt quickly. Here, we may discuss about the first movers’ advantages.

The Covid-19 pandemic should not be seen only as catastrophic calamity that needs to be properly and collectively mitigated, but it is also a blessing in disguise. For those who able to creatively harvest the benefits of ICT, a good installed-base of ICT ecosystem may serve as a springboard for future development.

Thirdly, ICT has proven to open access to a broader audience. Hence, we may consider ICT as a liberator. We witness that access to various useful services and contents is made possible by the use of ICT, especially the Internet.

However, we should not forget about the digital divide, not only between countries but also within a country. Indonesia is not an exception. Orchestrated efforts should be made to narrow the divide.

I do understand, this is a real huge challenge to connect all islands in an archipelagic country like Indonesia. But, the government with the help of other actors should do that.

Otherwise, the advancement of ICT will become a curse that widen the digital divide and challenge the inclusiveness. We should make all efforts to make sure that no one left behind. The efforts may take years or even decades to accomplish.

In a more specific academic community, broader eduroam initiatives to support national or global mobility and a massive id federation development may be seen as a subtle but a significant step towards the inclusiveness by opening the door for resource sharing initiatives.

A well-established and inclusive research and education network (REN) is another important idea that should be materialized soon in Indonesia. Today, we, in Indonesia, have started the initiatives, to some extent. And, we do hope that a critical mass of adoption can be achieved in the near future.

Once again, I would like to extend our gratitude to APAN, Professor Nizam, Professor Ari Fahrial Syam, Mr. Louis Hyunhop Choi, all the sponsors, all the speakers, the chair and the member of organizing committee, and all the participants.

I wish that all of you will find this virtual meeting personally rewarding, academically insightful, and professionally relevance.

A welcoming address in the opening of the 52 Asia Pacific Advanced Network (APAN) Virtual Meeting, hosted by Universitas Islam Indonesia, 2-6 August 2021