Al Busyra Bansur is Ambassador of the Republic of Indonesia, to, Ethiopia, Djibouti and the African Union. He earned his Master’s degree from the University of Santo Tomas at Manila Philippines in International Law.
As a career diplomat, AL Busyra Bansur, Joined Indonesia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1987 and served his nation in several positions. Before he assumed the position of Ambassador in January 2019, he served as secretary for the Directorate for Information and Public Diplomacy in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. His Excellency Al Busyra Bansur, is a prolific writer and contributes as a columnist for several national newspaper in Indonesia. He also wrote a book entitled: ‘Diplomasi Public (Public diplomacy) in 2018. Capital sat with Ambassador Al Busyra Bansur in his office to talk about several issues.
Capital: Tell us about the diplomatic relationship between Ethiopia and Indonesia?
Ambassador Al Busyra: Well the diplomatic relationship between the two countries was established in 1961. So it has been a long time already, more than half a century, before we opened our diplomatic relationship. The delegation from Ethiopia already visited Indonesia for an Asia -Africa conference made in Pandang. This conference was very important because it aimed to fight against colonialism where many African and Asian countries were under colonialism under western powers. So we need to struggle to get out. Indonesia initiated the conference and made it in the small city of independence Pandang. Now it is the second big city in Indonesia which is 180 km from the eastern of the capital Jakakrta. The outcome of the conference was called the spirit of Pandang, which is all about the declaration against colonialism. All these indicate that Ethiopia and Indonesia already are walking in the same spirit. After that conference some 40 countries earned their independence.
However we basically established our Embassy in Addis Ababa in 1964. It was officially opened by Emperor Haile Salassie in 1968.
He visited Indonesia in 1968 starting that year on the connection of officials and business man become higher and higher, our relation in politics, culture and economy significantly increased until now.
Capital: What are your priorities during your tenure in Ethiopia?
Al Busra: The economy is our priority, I have the four priorities during my tenure .
Cooperation in the economy ,second cooperation in social and culture the third regional and international cooperation and the fourth and most important thing is an embryo for both countries all kinds of cooperation in people to people contact which is very strong power.
Capital: Can you talk about trade and investment?
Al Busra: Concerning the trading and investment in the last three of four years volume of our trading always increase, but a couple of years ago ,the issue of hard currency limited us ,but Itis not only experienced between Ethiopia and Indonesia. Other countries as well.
Trade volume between the two states continues to be small though it is forecast a quantum leap could be recorded. In 2010, their trade total trade was 94.1 million USD while in the year 2011, the volume of trade recorded was 106 millionUSD. In 2017, the trade value recorded was 293.37 USD
Trading between the two countries has great potential because of the huge number of population, a total of 300 million people, so this means there is a good market and also we have a potential in natural resources.
Capital: Indonesia exports palm oil to the world and there is an issue in connection to the quality and health issues, what can we say about that?
Al Busra: Indonesia exports Palm oil to the European market and other parts of the continent including the USA. I know an issue regarding the quality of health issues. This is wrong, it‘s a black campaign by our competitors mainly coming up from European countries. You know, countries in Europe produce vegetable oil, they don’t produce palm oil and they compete with importers and they try to make black campaign. Even FAO and WHO confirmed after they made a study in Malaysia, Indonesia and other countries the quality of the palm oil and the quality of it, that is why palm oil is exported every corner of the world. Palm oil is edible oil that has been used for more than thousand years. And it is one of the 17 edible oil recommended by FAO.
Capital: Is there a level of quality in palm oil?
Al Busera: No,but there are products that can be made out of palm oil, including cosmetics and this is also a war made by business communities that has been starting from 1970’s. Indonesia is the biggest producers our main export to African countries is palm oil, including Ethiopia.
Capital: Did Norway ban Indonesian Palm Oil?
Al Bussra: This is totally wrong, no one can bring tangible information on this, as far a know, they didn’t ban palm oil imports.
Capital: What is the role of Indonesia in the Association of South Asian nations?
Al Busra: Indonesia is a big country, member of G 20, country of more than 260 million population, a country of more than 17 thousand Island and Indonesia is also geographically strategic, found in Indian ocean and found in Asian and Australia continents. The ASAN headquarter id in Jakarta, we have a pivotal role in ASAN.IT was founded in August 8, 1967 and have ten member states, is working to create prosperity, security among members states, But there is one saying, Indonesia is ASAN is first among others we all are equal, but Indonesia is the first. But we are brothers of .Basically as any member states of ASAN countries have Embassy here in Ethiopia we are also representing ASAN interest, our presence is important.
Capital: What are the areas Indonesian companies are engaged in?
Al Busra: The major Indonesian companies are engaged in food like Indomiea, Soap and detergent, B29 and Garment.we have a couple of Indonesian firms that are working in Hawassa industrial park
Capital: Diplomacy is not only about economic connection only, But There are also cultural aspects such as people to people relation, In this regards What are you doing as an Ambassador even if you have only five months since you arrive in Addis.
Al Busra: The Indonesian government has already awarded about fifty scholarships for Ethiopian students for one year training and two years masters program in addition to short term trainings to learn Indonesian culture, language, art that has been started in 2014, we already have plan to make youth empowerment program that we send 15 youth to Indonesia for exchange of ,the G2G relation between the two countries is already established well, what we do next to be working in people to people engagement, Because our diplomacy succeeded if the people support our program. Here are the main actors, Media, religious leaders, leaders of the communities, youth organization, and NGO’s to engage in all are and work for the people to people relation.
We held a panel discussion on peace and democracy two months ago in collaboration with Hawassa University, in which various politicians, academicians, and youth associations took part.
Capital: Indonesia is known for its tourism, what can Ethiopia learn from Indonesia?
Al Busra: Indonesia is one of the best destinations for international tourists, this year we predicted more than 20 million tourists a bit more this year, it was nine or ten million some three years ago because we are good in promotion, services and building infrastructures for tourism, many of them would like to hear from Indonesia, I already talk to the ministry of tourism in Indonesia, next year we will have a capacity program to share our experiences to Ethiopia in how to modernize the sector and boost the earning from tourism. So investing in infrastructure, promoting the destination and delivering best services is needed.
Capital: There are more than 700 ethnic groups in Indonesia, how can Indonesia use it as the force of unity and tackle the possible disintegration? What can the world learn from your experience?
Al Busra: In Indonesia there are more than 700 ethnicities and many more dialectics we have the nation language, surprisingly we make our national language is drawn from the minority ethnic group called Melee, it really shows the respect of minority, we have the word written in emblem ‘Unity in diversity” and we write down in our official letter to remind everybody about living in that spirit. Even we learn that starting from our pre-elementary education that enables to respect each other.That would be How Indonesia is working to live in peace and prosperity.