A recent study pegs two Southeast Asian cities, Manila and Jakarta, to most likely be the cities of the future. If the study holds true for the next 20 years, they can overtake the likes of Singapore and Hong Kong to become the most desirable cities for global businesses.
Manila and Jakarta – A Tale of 2 Emerging Cities
According to Chicago-based A.T. Kearney’s “Emerging Cities Outlook”, in 10 or 20 years, Manila and Jakarta will mostly challenge the global cities of today to attract businesses from global companies. According to the study, while these two cities are still in the lower half of the current list of top cities of the world, they are seeing rapid improvements in terms of human capital and healthcare quality. These two factors are enabling them to get the attention of global businesses faster than other middle to low incomed cities in Asia.
Global businesses have been rapidly setting up their presence all around Southeast Asia. Facebook recently opened its office in Jakarta. Twitter is rumored to launch their office in the city soon. Messaging services such as LINE and WeChat have offices across the region, as well as in the Philippines. With the Internet, physical distance seems so much more irrelevant, as Jakarta and Manila, where talent is abundant at a cheaper rate compared to countries in the west, have become service centers for some of the leading companies in the world.
It is interesting to note that most of the world’s emerging cities (according to the study) are from Asia and Africa. Standing at number 10 on the list is another Southeast Asian city – Kuala Lumpur, while China’s Beijing is at number 12.
The study assumes that the current growth of these “emerging cities” will continue to overtake the global cities of today. If it does continue, can these Southeast Asian cities overthrow the likes of Singapore and Hong Kong to become the world’s most desirable cities?
Not So Fast! Manila and Jakarta’s Problems – Internet and Traffic Congestion
A big problem that these two cities in Southeast Asia face every day is slow Internet. In a relevant study from ASEAN DNA, Manila, the capital of the Philippines, has the slowest Internet speed in Southeast Asia, yet it costs relatively more expensive than Singapore’s! Indonesia’s Internet speed also does not fare well with its Southeast Asian neighbors, with 4.1 MBPS on average – just some points ahead of the Philippines which has 3.6 MBPS average speed.
It is often said that one can just look at the city’s road infrastructure to see how well it is developed. Traffic in Jakarta and Manila is among the heaviest in the region. Because of this, tech startups like Uber and Tripid are faring well in these cities due to its necessity.
Along with other variables, such as poverty index and welfare development, 20 years is still a long way to go – a lot of years for these cities’ local governments to take action and overtake the likes of Singapore to be the world’s top global cities.