South Korea with Africa should forge a win-win cooperation model where they maximize the use of Africa’s abundant resources and Korea’s technology and development experience, a senior government official said Friday.
“Korea needs to start seeing Africa as a major emerging market for the country to achieve an annual trade volume of $1 trillion,” Second Vice Minister of Knowledge Economy Park Young-june said during his keynote speech for the first Africa Trade-Investment Forum in downtown Seoul.
“Africa is expected to emerge as a highly prospective market in the near future thanks to the rapid growth it has been realizing and the rise in its middle class population.”
The forum was held to encourage and support small and medium local firms to launch businesses in Africa. It was co-hosted by the Korea Federation of Small and Medium Businesses and state-run Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency.
Park said that Africa and Korea can create a synergy effect by utilizing the former’s rich resources and the latter’s advanced technologies.
Korean firms employing the local workforce in Africa and teaching them technologies and business know-how, thus nurturing their independence, are also necessary, he said.
Experts at the forum including Park also strongly suggested that local firms provide more official development assistance for Africa.
Involvement in ODA projects can offer grounds for Korean firms to make entries into the market by securing a human resource network and accumulating experience there.
Korea has been stepping up assistance for urbanization of underdeveloped nations in Asia, Africa and South America especially with the development agenda chosen as a main item for the first time at the Group of 20 Summit in Seoul in November.
Park, meanwhile, has been calling for long-term efforts from the government and private sector to make entries into the African market.
The vice minister speculated that the future of the two sides’ collaboration seemed bright as their strengths can compensate for each other’s weaknesses. Park even said the country was seeking opportunities to draw in funds from Middle Eastern countries such as the United Arab Emirates to invest together in Africa.
By Koh Young-aah (firstname.lastname@example.org)