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JAKARTA'S AFRICA DAY EXTRAVAGANZA: A NIGHT OF UNITY, CULTURE, AND CELEBRATION

African Ambassadors Host Spectacular Reception at Hotel Borobudur, Showcasing Rich Cultural Heritage and Strengthening Indonesia-Africa Ties.

04.06.2024
BY MAXWELL SOETOMO
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The Africa Day celebrations in Jakarta were marked with grandeur and enthusiasm at the Hotel Borobudur on May 31, 2024. Organized by the African ambassadors in Indonesia, the event drew a large crowd, including Indonesia’s Minister of Youth and Sports, Dito Ariotedjo, who was the chief guest, as well as senior officials from Parliament, various government departments, and numerous Indonesian friends of Africa.

In his opening address, the Dean of African Ambassadors and Moroccan Ambassador to Indonesia, Ouadia Benabdellah, emphasized the strengthening ties between Africa and Indonesia. "Tonight, as representatives of African countries in this wonderful country, we extend our warmest congratulations to the President-elect Mr. Prabowo and his running mate Mr. Gibran. Congratulations to the Nation and the citizens of Indonesia for the successful elections process. We hope that relations between Indonesia and Africa will develop even further," Benabdellah stated.

Highlighting future collaborations, Benabdellah praised Indonesia’s initiative to host the second Indonesia-Africa Forum in Bali in September 2024, themed "Bandung Spirit for Africa Agenda 2063." The forum is expected to attract 800 participants, focusing on achieving tangible sustainable development goals.

Minister Dito, in his speech, lauded the enduring relationship between Indonesia and Africa, which dates back to the 1955 Asia-Africa Conference in Bandung. "For Indonesia, Asia and Africa are brothers who have fought together for independence. By hosting the 1955 Asia-Africa Conference, Indonesia wanted to fight against colonialism and promote economic relations and culture between the two continents," Dito remarked.

Trade relations between Indonesia and Africa have seen significant growth. According to Indonesia’s Central Statistics Agency (BPS), bilateral trade reached USD 16.71 billion last year, with Indonesia exporting USD 6.85 billion worth of goods to Africa and importing USD 9.85 billion from the continent.

Indonesian leaders have been proactive in strengthening these ties. President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s visits to Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, and South Africa in August 2023, and Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi’s visit to Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco in December 2023, exemplify this commitment. Additionally, Kenya, Tanzania, Angola, Ethiopia, and Rwanda have recently opened embassies in Jakarta, bringing the total number of African embassies in Indonesia to 28.

"We look forward to welcoming more African embassies in Jakarta in the future," Benabdellah said.

Africa Day, celebrated annually on May 25, commemorates the founding of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) in 1963, which later became the African Union (AU) in 2002. This year's theme, “Education Fit for the 21st Century: Building resilient education systems for increased access to inclusive, lifelong, quality and relevant learning in Africa,” underscores the crucial role of education in Africa's socioeconomic transformation.

The AU's Agenda 2063, a strategic framework for inclusive and sustainable development, aims to transform Africa into a global powerhouse. "Education is not just a foundational element for individual success but a foundation for the sustainable development and prosperity of our entire continent," the AU noted on its website.

Significant strides have been made in education across Africa. The primary school completion rate increased from 52% to 69% between 2000 and 2022, with lower and upper secondary education completion rates also rising. However, challenges remain, particularly in accommodating the rapidly growing child population, projected to exceed 750 million by 2060.

Africa, with a median age of 18.8 years and a population of 1.49 billion, continues to strive for progress and unity under the banner of the AU, which currently has 54 member states, plus the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), a member without land or a permanent population.

The Africa Day celebration in Jakarta was a vibrant display of unity, featuring diverse arts, music, and cuisine from various African nations, fostering cultural exchange and friendship.

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