President Kagame explains why Korea is an ideal development partner for Africa

By Wycliffe Nyamasege
On 4 June 2024 at 01:59

President Paul Kagame has called for more partnerships between Africa and South Korea, emphasizing that the two regions stand to benefit from each other’s immense resources and potential.

Speaking during the inaugural Korea-Africa Summit in Seoul on Tuesday, June 4, President Kagame said “the moment was long overdue”, praising Korea as a strategic partner for Africa.

“Korea is a global pivotal state and Africa is a pivotal continent. It’s only natural for us to draw closer together in the years ahead for many reasons. First, Korea knows the value of sovereignty and independence as well as the struggle required to achieve accountable and inclusive politics. Those experiences allow us to look at each other eye to eye with mutual respect and admiration,” President Kagame said in his address.

President Kagame noted that Africa has much to learn from Korea’s rapid economic transformation over the past few decades, emphasizing the need to invest in political stability, health, education, and technology.

“Korea’s experience shows that a country can be radically transformed in the course of a generation. Is there any explanation why Africa has not become a high-income continent? Africa can go much faster and there is no better way than focusing on stability, health, education and technology. All of these are possible depending on how we address our security and governance challenges. Africa’s young people need these opportunities. It’s possible,” the Head of State said.

Africa, President Kagame explained, stands to benefit from cutting-edge innovations from Korea to boost advancements in various sectors, including Artificial Intelligence (AI).

“Partnerships with Korea have focused on the cutting edge of innovation, helping bring the latest technologies to Rwanda and Africa more quickly. This summit serves to remind us that even more can be done. From artificial intelligence and robotics to small model nuclear reactors to driving the energy transition with critical raw materials, Africa and Korea should be working side by side.”

He insisted that Africa, on the other hand, has much to offer in its partnerships with Korea, especially in ongoing efforts to create a single continental market for goods and services in Africa through the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

“Notably, by taking advantage of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTA) connecting with Africa, particularly with our very capable young people will pay dividends for decades to come. Africa will be a central driver of global trade before too long so long as we don’t take our future for granted. We have to keep on the path of partnerships such as these one between Africa and Korea. In doing so we may also enhance our cooperation on other matters of mature concern in the global arena.”

During the summit attended by 48 African leaders, South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol pledged to expand development aid to Africa and pursue deeper cooperation with the region on critical minerals and technology.

Yoon said South Korea plans to expand its cumulative development aid contributions to Africa to around $10 billion by 2030 and separately provide $14 billion in export financing to encourage South Korean investment in the region.