The first international conference of Frankfurt’s research programme Africa’s Asian Options (AFRASO) on African-Asian interactions took place in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, from March 11th – March 13th 2014. The conference was jointly organized by the Africa-Asia Development University Network (AADUN) and the Centre for Civilization Dialogue at University of Malaya in cooperation with AFRASO, which is based at Goethe University, Frankfurt.
Around 85 participants from academia, politics, development cooperation and the public attended the conference “African-Asian Encounters: New Cooperations – New Dependencies?” in Kuala Lumpur. Prof. Dr. Morshidi Sirat, Director General of Higher Education of the Malaysian Ministry of Education, opened the conference and emphasized the particular importance of education cooperation and joint development projects for successful South-South-cooperation. Since the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) has been supporting AADUN for several years, the participants were additionally welcomed by Mami Yamada Sakurai, Assistant Director for Partnerships and Triangular Cooperation of the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation based in New York. Mami Yamada Sakurai was especially delighted by the multilateral cooperation between the BMBF funded AFRASO project, the University of Malaya and the AADUN-Network with its numerous African and Asian partners.
The conference was divided into four thematic panels on the following topics: “Markets on the Move“, “Transnational Civic Networks between Africa and Asia“, “New Avenues for Civilizational Dialogue between Asia and Africa“, and “Improving the Living Habitats by Africa-Asia University Cooperation“. At the same time, these panels reflect AFRASO’s four key research areas. AFRASO seeks to analyze inter alia the processes and effects of new cooperation between Africa and Asia as reciprocal relationships. Even though the focus is on Africa’s Asian options, AFRASO also always depicts the development in the involved Asian countries. Accordingly, papers were, among others, presented on: the Chinese-African trade networks, the Islamic banking system in Nigeria and Malaysia, Muslim African migrants in Southeast Asia, as well as on South Korean civil society actors in Rwanda.
Thus, the conference was not only a sustainable stimulation for the academic dialogue, but also a driving force for a stronger institutionalization of the academic cooperation between Frankfurt and Malaysia. Accordingly, the Malaysian partners will be actively included in future conferences planned by AFRASO and will have the opportunity to send guest-researchers to Frankfurt.