Why is the Indonesian president hanging out with ‘super genius’ Elon Musk?

Indonesian President Joko Widodo traveled to Washington last weekend with other Southeast Asian leaders, as his US counterpart Joe Biden seeks to woo the region against China’s growing influence.

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

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

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

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

“We will be looking, from a Tesla and Space X perspective, to try to build partnerships in Indonesia,” Musk said, noting “future collaboration on many fronts.”

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Indonesia, Southeast Asia’s largest economy, is seeking to capitalize on the global shift to electric vehicles (EVs) by attracting foreign investment like Mr. Musk.

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

The demand for the metal is therefore increasing rapidly.

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