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Development in Africa : South Korea plans to double aid by 2030

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Development in Africa : South Korea plans to double aid by 2030

South Korea has decided to expand its development aid to Africa, aiming for deeper cooperation with the region in critical minerals and technologies, stated President Yoon Suk Yeol during a meeting with African leaders in Seoul.

Increasing trade with Africa

Representatives from 48 African countries, including 25 heads of state, are participating in this two-day summit starting June 4, 2024. The discussions are expected to focus on trade and investment. Trade with African countries currently accounts for less than 2 % of South Korea’s total imports and exports.

South Korean officials claim that expanding ties in the minerals and resources sector would enhance the country’s supply chain resilience in key areas like batteries. Yoon stated that South Korea plans to increase its cumulative development aid contributions to Africa to approximately 10 billion USD by 2030. Additionally, South Korea intends to provide 14 billion USD in export financing to encourage South Korean investments in the region.

A partnership with Africa, which holds 30 % of the world’s essential mineral reserves, including chromium, cobalt, and manganese, is crucial, according to Yoon’s office. « We will also explore sustainable cooperation methods on issues directly linked to future growth, such as stable supply of essential minerals and digital transformation », President Yoon emphasized. Notably, South Korea has already signed an agricultural sector agreement with eight African countries.

Partnership : South Korea offers an alternative to Africa

Park Jong-dae, former South Korean Ambassador to South Africa and Uganda, asserts that the Western and Chinese development models proposed to African countries have failed. Thus, South Korea offers an interesting alternative cooperation model. « The essence of the Korean development cooperation model is human development and management rather than merely assisting », he stated.

South Korea has experience and expertise in development. Many African countries have immense development potential based on untapped resources and a dynamic young population.

On June 5, 2024, South Korean business leaders are organizing a business summit focused on investment, industrial development, and food security.

Thorny issue of North Korea

South Korea’s opening to Africa also comes at a time when North Korea is increasingly attempting to break out of its diplomatic isolation. North Korea is seeking to build cooperation with African countries opposed to U.S. foreign policy, as its leader Kim Jong Un adheres to the idea of a « new Cold War ». In recent months, Kim has enhanced the visibility of his ties with Russia and China and sent a government delegation to Iran.

North Korea also maintains longstanding relations with several African countries, including Uganda, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique. However, some governments in the region have reduced their ties with Pyongyang amid strengthened UN sanctions concerning its nuclear and missile programs. UN experts have accused North Korea for years of generating illicit revenue from Africa through infrastructure projects, arms sales, and other activities.

Yoon urges African countries to take stronger action in an international pressure campaign against North Korea. The North has recently accelerated its tests of nuclear-capable weapons systems and sent hundreds of balloons to drop tons of waste and manure on the South as relations between the war-divided Koreas deteriorate.

Enhancing security on the Korean peninsula for economic prosperity

Yoon declares that the security situation on the Korean Peninsula is in a « very serious state » following a series of North Korean provocations and military activities. This includes the failure of last month’s launch of a military reconnaissance satellite. He expressed hope to coordinate with African countries to strengthen pressure on Pyongyang.

« We are committed to working closely with our African partners to fully implement the resolutions of the UN Security Council and uphold peace on the Korean Peninsula and within the international community », affirms Yoon.

In a statement released in May, the North Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs declared that relations with Africa « will continue to develop steadfastly » and that it will continue to support the region’s struggle for « independent development under the banner of non-alignment as well as independence against imperialism ».

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