Considered one of humanity’s great early achievements is the crossing of early man from Asia to Australia. Archeological, genetic and paleontological evidence contends that modern humans spread into South-East Asia from Africa about 60,000 years ago- owing to the cooling of the Earth’s climate in the Ice Age. Their heritage today is left behind with the presence of Indigenous peoples not limited to the Aetas of the Philippines and the Semang people of Malaysia. The contacts between the peoples in South East Asia and Africa were later made possible through colonization, a history shared by both regions, by the Portuguese, British, Dutch and later American involvement.

Following the independence of states in these regions, relations took the form of multi-lateral relations, as part of the Non-Aligned Movement during the cold war led by the then Indonesia’s President Sukarno and India’s Prime Minister Nehru. The first Asia-Africa Summit- commonly referred to as the Bandung Conference of 1955, was set to be a pretext to long term engagements between the two continents, attended by 6 African states out of a total of 30 states notably Libya, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Liberia and Sudan.

The Second Summit would be in April 2005- Jakarta, to mark the 50th Anniversary, was attended by 54 Asian and 52 African countries and lastly the 60th Anniversary held in April 2015- Jakarta, where 109 Asian and African countries participated. Unlike this summit, the Forum for East Asia – Latin America Cooperation (FEALAC) which will be celebrating its 20th Anniversary this year, has 36 members and managed to implement 411 national and regional projects, the ASEAN-Africa relationship lacks any formal institutional standing- noting that South Africa made a failed attempt to include the New Asian-Africa Strategic Partnership (NAASP) into the African Union’s NEPAD. At the Bi-lateral levels, South Africa, Egypt and Nigeria are the largest trading partners of ASEAN in Africa, while Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand have made developments on this front.

The following text examines the opportunities and challenges across various focus issues: https://citizentv.co.ke/blogs/opinion-how-to-boost-africa-and-south-east-asia-cooperation-308333/

Published by Joel Okwemba

Budding intellectual and practitioner of diplomacy focused on enhancing the peace and security agenda through a multi-sectoral approach and research. Managing Director of the Centre for International and Security Affairs.

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