Sunday, January 29

Indonesia Consul presents more opportunities to Gambians

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Since becoming the honorary consul of Indonesia to The Gambia, Mr Alieu Secka has continued to find ways to make it easier for especially Gambians to travel to Indonesia for various purposes.

In the wake of 2023, Honorary Consul Secka is going to present a much seamless process for obtaining visas to Indonesia, just as he has been putting in place apt mechanisms over the last four years to ensure Gambians secure visas to Indonesia much easier and faster than it used to be.

He says: “I am pleased to announce that the Indonesian embassy in Dakar, which I represent as Honorary Consul, has requested that we would now receive the visa applications here and send them to Dakar, where they would do the final processing and issue the visas and send them back to us.

“So, by January, we are going to have everything in place so that people do not have to go to Dakar for visa processing – either government or private travellers to Indonesia. I am hoping that the logistics will all be in place by the end of this year. In the meantime, if one wants to go to Indonesia he or she must go to Dakar.”

The Indonesian office in The Gambia is located at Kololi New Road at the ABSS Point. Explains Mr Secka: “We have some professional staff that support the work we do at ABSS Services to ensure we have a seamless process. Those who need visas will come and we will give them the form and also inform them accordingly, what requirements they have to attach. Then we send the completed forms to Dakar, who would then issue visas and return to us the documents so that we can give back the passports. This is similar to what other embassies that have Honorary Consuls here in Banjul do.

“My role is to be the medium between Banjul and the Dakar embassy through the Foreign Ministry in The Gambia. If there is any assistance needed when the process is done, I would be the one on the ground to support.”

In a letter to Consul Secka, Ambassador Dindin Wahyudin of the Indonesian government states: “With relation to the increased number of questions regarding visa application to Indonesia, the Directorate General for Immigration of the Ministry of Law and Human Rights of the Republic of Indonesia has launched the website: www.visa-online.imigrasi.go.id, to ease the visa process, particularly during the pandemic. However, only the guarantors, be they individuals or corporations, who could access the website and fill in the visa form application.”

The relations between Indonesia and The Gambia have gone a notch higher since Mr Secka took charge of the Indonesian Consulate in Banjul. Travelling to Indonesia for whatever fruitful purposes – ranging from diplomatic missions to education, commerce and other businesses – has continued to go on efficiently that today much could be written home about the cordial bilateral ties between Indonesia and The Gambia.

“Increasingly, we have more and more people getting to know Indonesia,” Mr Secka recounts.  “Indonesia is now the nation with the eleventh biggest economy in the world. It is also one of the top players in terms of geopolitics, religion and other sectors for a number of reasons.

“In terms of religion, Indonesia has the world’s largest Muslim population. Those who go to Hajj would see that there are more Indonesians than any other country who go to Hajj by virtue of their population.

“On education, many Gambians have gone to Indonesia to study and many have returned and are holding positions both in the private sector and in government.”

The Indonesian authorities are trying to promote more business relations between The Gambia and Indonesia, Consul Secka points out, adding that more Gambians are now going to Indonesia to do business such as buying foodstuffs, furniture and industrial equipment from Indonesia to The Gambia.

“We also want to promote exports from The Gambia to Indonesia, including fruits, fresh vegetables and other produce. These are abundant here but unfortunately, due to lack of good processing and packaging, we are unable to take advantage of their market well.”

Mr Secka says the cordial relations between both countries will be maintained more so as the Indonesian government wants to promote multicultural ties, as well as tourism, between The Gambia and Indonesia, and “has already approved some D20 million grant for the rehabilitation of the Genoi Agricultural Training Center”.

Indonesia is the largest country in Southeast Asia, from east to west of about 5,100 km and an extent from north to south of 1,800 km. Indonesia is composed of some 17,500 islands, although many are uninhabited.

Indonesia is situated at the meeting point of two of the world’s population groups – Asians in the west and Malaysians in the east. The great majority of Indonesians are related to the peoples of eastern Asia, although over the centuries there also has been considerable mixing with Arabs, Indians and Europeans.

Indonesia recorded a total of four million tourists in 2020, ranking 44th in the world in absolute terms, generating around US$3.53 billion in the tourism sector alone and approximately 12 per cent of all international tourism receipts in Southeast Asia.

Mr Secka, who was the CEO of the Gambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry, took early retirement last year to return to his private business. He is a former Chairman of Gambia Hotel Association and an investor in a hotel. Since he was appointed Honorary Consul of Indonesia in The Gambia and accredited to the Dakar Embassy about four years ago, he has supported many students to study in Indonesia as well as those also going for business and tourism.

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