New body to raise awareness about Africa
A group of Indonesian journalists established the Africa-Indonesia Press Association on Thursday to celebrate the legacy of the country’s first president Sukarno, a champion of anti-colonialism and of Asian-
“Today [Thursday] is the anniversary of Sukarno’s death [on June 21, 1970]. On this day we want to revive his legacy by establishing the Africa-Indonesia Press Association to raise awareness about Africa in Indonesia,” Parni Hadi, the former president of Antara news agency, said during the inauguration ceremony at Zimbabwe House in Jakarta on Thursday.
“Africa is the future of the world. It has enormous economic potential. We Indonesians should know more about the dynamic Africa,” he said.
Sukarno’s legacy is facing a litmus test as Indonesia lags behind its Asian peers like China, India and Malaysia in fostering partnerships on the African continent.
In 2011, more than a dozen countries in Africa recorded much higher economic growth than Indonesia’s 6.5 percent.
“Our economy grew 7.5 percent last year, thanks mainly to coal and gas. This year, we expect the same growth rate of 7.5 percent,” Mozambique Ambassador to Indonesia Carlos Agostinho Do Rosario told The Jakarta Post.
Trade between Indonesia and African countries increased to around US$10 billion in 2011, a significant jump from $4.76 billion in 2009. However, it was still much smaller than China’s $160 billion trade with Africa and India’s $62 billion in 2011.
On behalf of the African embassies in Jakarta, Zimbabwe Ambassador to Indonesia Alice Mageza, who is also Dean of the Group of African Ambassadors and Dean of the Diplomatic Corps, thanked Parni for the initiative and expressed her hope that a solid partnership between African embassies and Indonesian media can be forged to revive the Bandung Spirit, referring to the historic Asian-African Conference in 1955 in Bandung, West Java.
“Our biggest challenge in Indonesia is the lack of positive information on Africa. This forum is very useful as it is expected to disseminate information on both Africa and Indonesia,” Ambassador Mageza said in her welcoming speech. “I hope this press club will portray Africa’s real role in the world.”
According to senior journalist and former Indonesian ambassador to Australia, Sabam Siagian, the association’s establishment was a brilliant idea on how to develop cooperation between Indonesian journalists and African countries.
“It is time to revive our relations with African countries,” Sabam said.
The meeting was attended by ambassadors, charge d’affaires and representatives from Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Mozambique, Nigeria, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Tunisia and Zimbabwe.
The meeting elected a six-member committee, including Parni and Sabam, as well as representatives from The Jakarta Post, Kompas, Antara, and the Atjeh Post.