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[AFRICA FORUM] Korea-Africa forum explores pathways to prosperity

AGA, Herald jointly host Africa Day 2024 to boost anticipation of 1st Korea-Africa Summit in Seoul next month

May 26, 2024 - 16:00 By Ji Da-gyum
Choi Jin-young, president of the Herald Media Group makes an opening speech at the Korea-Africa Day 2024 Business Forum held at the Swiss Grand Hotel in Seoul on Thursday. (Lee Sang-sub/The Korea Herald)

Exploring the importance of the Korea-Africa partnership amidst global challenges and its potential for mutual prosperity, the African Group of Ambassadors in Seoul and Herald Media Group, co-hosted Africa Day 2024 Korea Business Forum on Thursday.

Under the slogan, "When African Possibilities Meet Korean Capabilities," the event was held in anticipation of an inaugural summit that the South Korean government is set to host in June 4-5 with African countries in Seoul, and also to celebrate the annual Africa Day when African nations came together to form the Organization of African Unity 61 years ago.

The forum, which drew around 600 participants from embassies in Seoul as well as representatives from the Korean government, business, media and culture sectors, marked the first collaboration between the AGA and a Korean media company.

Choi Jin-young, president of Herald Media Group said, "Now is the time for new cooperation" between Korea and African countries in his opening speech to the first session, "Africa Day 2024 Korea Business Forum."

Choi highlighted that the call to action is crucial amid global challenges like wars, economic instability and the climate crisis, which threaten future prosperity.

"We must unite our efforts to drive towards a win-win community, embracing the 'Ubuntu' spirit and envisioning humanity's future prosperity, transcending mere partnerships centered solely on national interests," Choi said, referring to the philosophy that translates to "I am because we are" in Zulu, and embodies an interconnected, communal ethos.

Carlos Victor Boungou, dean of the African Group of Ambassadors and Ambassador of the Gabonese Republic, speaks at the Korea-Africa Day 2024 Business Forum held at the Swiss Grand Hotel in Seoul on Thursday. (Im Se-jun/The Korea Herald)

Gabon Ambassador Carlos Victor Boungou, dean of the AGA representing some 20 African countries, emphasized the urgent need for strategic cooperation with Korea in sectors like manufacturing, agriculture, health care and green energy, stating it is "most critical now in the face of global economic challenges."

At the business forum, speakers emphasized the potential for a symbiotic Korea-Africa partnership, leveraging the strengths of each side.

Africa has economic potential fueled by its young population and abundant natural resources as well as its transition into the world's largest market, boasting a GDP of around $3 trillion following the launch of the African Continental Free Trade Area in 2021, according to the speakers.

South Korea has economic as well as technological prowess and its rapid transformation from a developing to a developed country can offer valuable insights for African growth and prosperity.

South Korean Trade Minister Cheong In-kyo delivers his congratulatory speech at the Korea-Africa Day 2024 Business Forum held at the Swiss Grand Hotel in Seoul on Thursday. (Lee Sang-sub / The Korea Herald)

Trade Minister Cheong In-kyo stressed the importance of broadening trade and investment with Africa, noting that African countries make up less than 2 percent of Korea's foreign trade and investment.

"In that regard, the upcoming Korea-Africa Summit, scheduled for next month, holds great timeliness and significance," Cheong remarked in his congratulatory speech, noting the summit aims to realize the vision of "The Future We Make Together: Shared Growth, Sustainability and Solidarity," the official slogan of the event.

President of the Korea Trade Insurance Corporation Jang Young-jin said, "We expect that the summit will serve as an opportunity for Korea and Africa to forge a future-oriented partnership," in his keynote speech.

Participants in the Africa Day Business Forum panel discussion in Seoul, from left: Tunisian Ambassador to Korea Kais Darragi; Egyptian Ambassador to Korea Khaled Abdel Rahman; Hong Soon-young, Vice President of the Export-Import Bank of Korea; Lee Kwang-bok, Director of the Korea Overseas Infrastructure and Urban Development Corporation; Kim Young-sang, Director of the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency; and Chammah Judex Kaunda, African Studies Professor at Yonsei University. (Im Se-jun/The Korea Herald)

The forum concluded with a lively panel discussion on the Korea-Africa economic partnership, exploring cooperation opportunities and strategies for investment risk mitigation in Africa.

"If we consider all aspects of this cooperation and the technologies shared between Korea and African countries, these collaborations not only serve to boost economic ties but also to improve the quality of life for many in the African continent," Egyptian Ambassador to South Korea Khaled Abdel Rahman said during the discussion.

"I have witnessed that, and I think this is a very important aspect of economic cooperation."

A performance by the African Dance Company Tagg graces the second session of "Africa Day 2024 Korea," commemorating Africa Day, held on Thursday. (Im Se-jun/The Korea Herald)

The second session of "Africa Day 2024 Korea," commemorating the establishment of the Organization of African Unity, a precursor to the African Union, on May 25, 1963, opened with performances from the African Dance Company Tagg and the Little Angels, a Korean childrens' folk ballet.

Jung Won-ju, chairman of Herald Media Group, Daewoo E&C and the Korea Housing Builders Association, said, "If we don't take the initiative in engaging with Africa and move forward together with them, I believe that the future of our Republic of Korea will not be bright."

Jung urged the Korean government to increase flights to Africa, stating, "Expanding transportation routes will greatly accelerate economic and cultural exchanges," in his congratulatory speech.

Jung Won-ju, who concurrently serves as chairman of Herald Media Group, Daewoo E&C and Korea Housing Builders Association delivers his celebratory speech at the Africa Day 2024 Korea on Thursday. (Im Se-jun/The Korea Herald)

At the tender ages of 16 and 15 respectively, Korean student Ra Ji-an and Tanzanian student Pearl Mavura also delivered stirring speeches, emphasizing the crucial need for cooperation between Africa and Korea to ensure a brighter future for future generations.

Korean First Vice Foreign Minister Kim Hong-kyun underscored that the Korea-Africa summit will be a pivotal moment to "establish a strong foundation for a shared future," expressing Korea's readiness to share its development experiences, both successes and lessons learned, and to support African countries in charting their own paths.

"I can assure all of you that, with Korea, it will be different," Kim said.

Chairman of Herald Media Group, Jung Won-ju; President of Herald Media Group, Choi Jin-young; Korean First Vice Foreign Minister, Kim Hong-kyun; ambassadors in Korea; the African Dance Company Tagg; and the Little Angels, a Korean children's folk ballet, pose for a group photo at the second session of "Africa Day 2024 Korea," on Thursday. (Im Se-jun/The Korea Herald)

The list of ambassadors from African countries who attended the Africa Day 2024 Forum includes Amb. of Gabon Carlos Victor Boungou, Amb. of Morocco Chafik Rachadi, Amb. of Sierra Leone Kathos Jibao Mattai, Amb. of Angola Edgar Augusto Brandão Gaspar Martins, Amb. of South Africa Zenani Mandela-Dlamini, Amb. of Ghana Charis Obetsebi-Lamptey Zwennes, Amb. of Tanzania Togolani Edriss Mavura, Amb. of Côte d'Ivoire Allou Wanyou Eugene Biti, Amb. of Algeria Mohammed Bensabri, Amb. of Egypt Khaled Abdel Rahman, Amb. of Senegal Abdou Salam Diallo, Amb. of Ethiopia Dessie Dalkie, Amb. of DR Congo Atoki Ileka, Amb. of Sudan Amira Agarib, Amb. of Zambia Andrew Bwezani Banda, Amb. of Rwanda Nkubito Manzi Bakuramutsa and Amb. of Tunisia Kais Darragi, Amb. of Kenya Emmy Jerono Kipsoi. Nigerian Embassy Charge d'affaires Ferdinand Nwonye also attended.