Relations between Indonesia and Namibia have matured to a point of good friendship since they were inaugurated 21 years ago.
It was their historical background that initially helped lay the foundation for close ties between the two countries.
Back then, Indonesia, being a promoter of decolonization of all Asian and African nations, was working together with SWAPO in the UN forum during the struggle for Namibia's liberation.
After independence, the two countries witnessed huge changes and progress.
Namibia experienced a robust democracy, socio-political stability, economic growth, including foreign investment.
All of these have made Namibia grow into a bustling, vibrant African democracy.
With Reformasi (Reformation or Reform) taking place fourteen years ago, Indonesia too, has seen its economic condition, supported by stability and democracy, constantly improving.
The World Bank predicts Indonesia's economy will overtake those of Mexico, Turkey and South Korea by 2014.
It is plain to see that both Indonesia turning 67 on August 17th, 2012, and Namibia, now 22 years old, are on a solid foundation for their relationship today - making them more than ready to elevate their cooperation to a higher level based on mutual respect and benefit.
After 21 years of bilateral relations, the two countries finally embarked on a new course with the First Joint Commission Meeting (JCM) in Jakarta, in 2009. The meeting concluded very successfully as all stakeholders involved effectively managed to identify many common areas for cooperation.
Following that meeting, several Memorandums of Understanding were signed, adding to the number of MoU and agreements that already in existence in various fields.
To date, both countries have agreements on mineral resources and energy cooperation (1997), economic and technical cooperation (1997), cooperation between the Indonesian and Namibian National News Agency (1998), the Establishment of a Task Force on Trade and Industry (2000), cooperation between the University of Namibia and the University Gadjah Mada (2009), followed by an agreement between the two faculties of agriculture (2010), cooperation between the police forces of both countries and one between the two Ministries of Agriculture, both in 2011.
Other cooperation agreements, comprising trade and investment, marine fisheries, health and culture, are also in the pipeline, waiting for finalization.
Being aware of the significance of capacity building in bilateral relations, Indonesia offers expertise in a broad range of areas.
In the field of agriculture, several Indonesian rice experts came to Namibia with the purpose of sharing experiences and expertise in rice cultivation.
The cooperation is timely given Namibia's clear policy in developing rice as a crop and food self-sufficiency. Namibia has also participated in several quarantine trainings in Indonesia since 2011 in order to develop its quarantine system.
Indonesia and Namibia have also been working together in the training of Namibian technicians on maintenance of agricultural equipment, and making technical adjustments to fit local conditions.
This is being carried out so as to speed up the process of mechanization in agriculture. Thanks to good collaboration between the Ministry of Agriculture of Namibia, the August 26 Company and the Quick Company, a leading Indonesian manufacture in hand tractors, the transfer of skills was made possible.
In fact, more cooperation on capacity building on agriculture will be discussed thoroughly in the near future by the Joint Working Committee whose main task is to manage and facilitate the implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding.
In addition, Namibia has been actively participating in various training programmes and scholarships, including diplomacy, micro-finance, summer school, aquaculture and agriculture, including quarantine. Of course, as partnership grows, Indonesia is keen to see more Namibians getting involved in other suitable training courses.
At University-to-University level, the cooperation between the University of Namibia (UNAM) and the University of Gadjah Mada (UGM) looks promising. In June 2012, a UNAM delegation visited UGM for the second time. Apart from research collaboration, both sides successfully reached an agreement which allows several senior academicians from UGM to work for UNAM to help develop either newly-established faculties or schools therein.
The transfer of knowledge is therefore expected to take place during the course of deployment.
The public-cultural diplomacy is indeed no less important. to bring Namibia closer to Indonesia.
Frankly, this poses a big challenge given the fact Indonesia is not on the radar of many Namibians, and neither is Namibia for Indonesians. Indonesia for Namibians means little more than Bali and tsunami. The same thing applies to Indonesians when asked about Namibia.
'Where is Namibia?',they would simply ask.
Hence, the Indonesian Embassy in Windhoek, ably supported by Indonesians at home, as well as Namibians from all walks of life here, has actively been promoting Indonesia through art-cultural performances and cuisines across Namibia.
The popular batik workshops, with many enthusiastic participants, mostly Namibian women, also contributed significantly.
Nowadays, the fruit of these painstaking efforts can be seen everywhere as more and more Namibians are becoming more familiar with Indonesia.
Many by now know that Indonesia is a country with 240 million people plus around 17.500 tropical islands, making it the fourth-most populous country with an overwhelmingly moderate Muslim majority in the world, rich in natural and cultural diversities (400 ethnicities), including traditional music instruments and food, especially the popular ones, such as Kolintang, Gamelan and Nasi Goreng - Mie Goreng (fried rice and fried noodle). It is also worth sharing that many Namibians are taking a liking to batik and are well aware they are wearing Indonesia's national garment.
More importantly, as Namibians and Indonesians are becoming more familiar with each other, we have seen an increasing number of Namibians visiting Indonesia and vice versa, be it for the purpose of diplomatic, official, business, tourism, cultural or study.
Aside from bilateral cooperation, Indonesia and Namibia have worked closely in the international forum. It is their commitment to liberty, multi-lateralism, justice and prosperity that put Indonesia and Namibia on the same platform to deal with many international issues, notably free trade, climate change, peace and security, including the Palestinian affairs.
Looking at Indonesia-Namibia bilateral trade in 2011 that was valued at USD 3,732,711, one will immediately acknowledge that there is still room for improvement. For this to happen, both countries need to unlock the potentials for growth.
Indonesia and Namibia are strategic gateways to each other's regional markets and should be used to foster economic growth.
Indonesia is a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), a 10-member with a combined population of more than 500 million, while Namibia being a member of Southern African Development Community (SADC) with around 230 million people - and both can be a springboard for local companies wanting to enter huge markets.
Both are also committed to diversifying sources of import and export, paving the way for more local businesses to enter each other's market.
Abundant natural resources and an open attitude toward foreign companies make Namibia an ideal entry point for investors looking to explore the opportunities available across southern Africa. A world-class port at Walvis Bay provides facilities to support imports and exports for the whole region.
Meanwhile, Indonesia is a country with a big population, coupled with a rising middle class, thereby making it a huge and growing market.
At the same time, with steady economic growth at around six percent amid an ongoing global economic downturn, Indonesian exporters are keen to explore non-traditional markets. Both the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Standard Chartered Bank in Indonesia are convinced that apart from the Middle East and Latin America, African countries represent a lucrative yet largely untapped market. The growth in trade between Indonesia and African countries, including Namibia, could be further increased.
On investment, both countries are truly becoming most promising investment destinations. Sectors of investment are being offered for FDI, ranging from mining, agriculture, fisheries, marine and aquaculture, manufacturing, port, airport, railroad, roads, electricity and renewable energy and tourism. In Namibia, new opportunities are being opened up in the exploration for oil and gas.
It is noteworthy that Indonesia has recently attained an investment grade of BBB- from Fitch Ratings, while Namibia has become the third-most competitive economy in Africa according to the Africa Competitiveness Report of the Index of the World Economic Forum.
Certainly, Indonesia and Namibia are keen to increase their economic and trade relations, irrespective of 9000 km that separate them. Stronger bilateral trade and economic ties between Indonesia and Namibia are the key to unlocking the economic potential of both countries.
A solid foundation has been built, and yet it cannot be taken for granted.
Our strong and cordial bilateral relationship can be further elevated only if we wholeheartedly work hand in hand - with the aim of growing together.