Jakarta. Indonesian ambassadors stationed in African countries on Tuesday (13/02) urged Indonesian businesses to invest in the continent and change their mindsets about Africa as a region of conflict.
"It’s time for Indonesian companies to change their mindsets and move past seeing Africa as a region of conflict but instead as an area filled with a lot of potential," Mansyur Pangeran, Indonesia’s ambassador to Senegal, said during a press briefing in Jakarta.
Mansyur also serves as an ambassador to several other countries in Africa, including Sierra Leone, the Ivory Coast and Gambia.
While some African countries still face internal conflict, Mansyur said there is a huge opportunity for Indonesian businesses to thrive, as there is a large demand for products that Indonesia produces, including in the agricultural sector.
According to Harry Purwanto, Indonesia’s ambassador to Nigeria, many Indonesians are still unaware of the potential Africa has to offer.
Nigeria is Africa’s most populous country, with over 185 million people. An analysis from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) projects that Nigeria could emerge as the 14th largest economy in the world by 2050.
"I see that they have yet to meet their domestic demands, so there’s a huge potential to sell our products in Nigeria," Harry said.
However, Africa's potential has remained largely untapped because Nigeria is strongly associated with violence, drugs and terrorism. Therefore, Harry stressed that it is important to raise awareness among the private sector and the citizenry.
Indonesia will host the inaugural Indonesia-Africa forum (IAF) this April, which seeks to facilitate interactions between Indonesian and African businesses.
The Southeast Asian country has focused on increasing engagement with its African counterparts, seeking to broaden their penetration into non-traditional markets.
In 2017, Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi visited the continent twice with other related ministers and officials.
On Monday, President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo ordered Indonesian diplomats to boost their efforts in economic diplomacy.
Over the years, Africa has continued to attract foreign investments, including from China, Japan and South Korea. Indonesia’s private sector can jump on the bandwagon by capitalizing on the good relations between Indonesia and African countries, including Nigeria.
"We must push for a mutually-beneficial cooperation, where we not only receive but also give," Harry said, alluding to the mutual importance of increasing exports of Indonesian goods and also of making investments in Africa.