The Republic of Korea is ready to establish more partnerships and further open up opportunities for investments into Africa’s economic development, after its recent pledge to step up its technology transfers to African states.
This indication emerged on Tuesday, on the sideline of discussions some African journalists, who had been on the reporting tour of the United States and South Korea, had with top players in the country in Seoul, the capital city of the Republic of Korea.
Earlier on the reporting tour sponsored by the United States Embassy Seoul, at separate discussions in Washington DC, officials had informed of South Korea’s commitment of $1 billion to boost electricity supply to African countries, among other developmental areas the country was said to have put its investments in Africa.
In the said electricity project being piloted by the US Agency for International Development (USAID), South Korea is to finance 1,000 kilometres of new transmission lines in an initiative being piloted by private enterprises for electricity to be extended for the first time to more than 50 million Africans,
Besides, in a recent meeting on potential technology partnerships between Korea and Africa, representatives of Busan Metropolitan City, Busan Techno Park, and Korea’s Green Technology Centre, the country had also seen huge potentials for cooperation and immense opportunities for job-creating bankable projects. opportunities for job-creating bankable projects.
Some of the range of business options for investments include agriculture, green growth, smart urban transportation management, and numerous business opportunities.
Giving credence to this development, the AFDB President, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, who according to his Bank’s report attended the Seoul partnership meeting on the project, said, “the Future is going to be an exponentially different future,” and that AfDB intends to “explore the creation of a strategic partnership with Korea that could lead to the creation of a Korea-Africa research and training Drone Centre, that could help pave the way for Africa’s 4th Industrial Revolution.”
“Korean expertise can provide a practical and pragmatic solution to a wide range of Africa’s most pressing technology needs: The African Development Bank could play a major role here: if we bring technology to the table, the Bank can identify and facilitate bankable projects that can boost technology cooperation between Africa and Korea,” Hyung-Ju Kim, Director, Global Strategy Division, Green Technology Centre, was quoted as saying in the AfDB report.
To kick-start the project, with funding from the Korea-Africa Cooperation (KOAFEC) fund, the African Development Bank, in cooperation with Busan Metropolitan City, and the Busan Techno Park, said the initiative had been launched with a pilot project in Tunisia, using drone technology to develop agriculture, including data collection and analysis, monitoring irrigated perimeters, aquifers, the effects of climate change, land degradation, biodiversity, filling and siltation of dams, and overall agricultural production.
Korea and the African Development Bank intend to extend the programme to other countries and regions in Tunisia and Africa, and explore the massive market potential of industrial zones in other sectors, the AfDB said.
According to Adesina, “We are determined to expand the use of drones in agriculture in Africa. What we do in Africa today, will determine global food security tomorrow.”
For the President of the African Development Bank, it is important that the technological partnership with Korea translates into the capacity building on the ground, through training, so that Africa can industrialise, build or assemble drones.
AfDB said in its report that “Busan City’s dominance as a Smart City on the cutting of artificial intelligence is thanks in part to the political vision, one of the largest research and development expenditures in the world, and a team of 12,000 researchers and scientists.”
While at the African diplomatic corps in Seoul, Adesina, according to his Bank report, identified three main obstacles to private sector development, access to finance, energy and stability, saying, “The Bank has invested $1 billion in AfreximBank, including $ 650 million in trade finance lines of credit and $ 350 million in trade insurance.
The Bank has also invested $ 630 million in First Rand Bank and Absa in South Africa to support expanded access to trade finance for 20 countries.
“This financing effort includes small and medium-sized enterprises, which represent more than 80% of businesses in Africa. In this respect, he cited the Asian example, where large companies relied on value chains dominated by SMEs including suppliers and subcontractors.
The Bank’s strategy is to develop large companies while connecting them to SMEs for increased value creation.
“Without electricity, it is impossible to industrialise Africa. The Bank has made access to electricity a top priority. Its ‘Desert to Power’ initiative will develop an estimated 10,000 MW in the Sahel region, making it the largest solar project in the world.
“The Bank’s 2018 Africa Investment Forum in South Africa, secured investment commitments worth $ 38.7 billion in less than 72 hours, which provides a strong indication of global interest in Africa’s emerging markets.”
The dean of the Board of Directors of the African Development Bank, Abdelmajid Mellouki, estimates that a general capital increase would enable the Bank to provide African countries with funding at significantly lower costs.
More opportunities are still open for investments, and as gathered, South Korea has spotted participatory areas to include educational exchange, entrepreneurship building, agriculture and infrastructural development as to where it can put its funds to further advance Africa’s economy.
source: Nigerian Tribune