By Josephine Akaaer , Senior Special Correspondent
The Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs hosted the 5th Korea-Africa Forum jointly with the African Union (AU) on Thursday March 3 under the theme of “Strengthening Korea-Africa Cooperation In The Post-COVID 19 Era” and discussed ways to reinforce cooperation between Korea and Africa in the areas of health, economy, peace and security.
Delegations from 10 countries representing Africa, including the Deputy Chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC) Monique Nsanzabaganwa, the Foreign Minister of Senegal the chair country of the AU for this year Aissata Tall Sall, the Foreign Minister of Malawi Nancy Tembo, and the Minister for Tourism, Arts and Culture of Ghana, Ibrahim Mohammed Awal attended the forum.
Countries invited to the Forum according to the AU internal principles: 4 chair countries of the AU (Senegal, DR Congo, Angola, and Libya), 5 chair countries of the regional economic communities (Ghana, Malawi, Kenya, Egypt, and Chad), and chair country of the AU Development Agency-NEPAD (Rwanda).
In his opening remarks, Minister of Foreign Affairs Chung Eui-yong mentioned that Korea-Africa relations had dramatically developed since the 1st Korea-Africa Forum in 2006, and Korea would strengthen cooperation with Africa focusing on three visions: expanding development cooperation, establishing a government-level institutional foundation and expanding business exchange platforms for invigoration of economic cooperation, and expanding cooperation in the field of peace and security by supporting the AU’s activities for peace and security.
Regarding cooperation in the health sector, Minister Chung said that the Korean government would donate 3.4 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine to Africa in cooperation with the AU, in addition to the US$200 million pledged through COVAX to support Africa’s response to COVID-19.
Chung also said that in anticipation of the 20th anniversary of Korea’s joining the AU as an Observer in 2025, the Korean government was looking forward to holding ‘Korea-Africa Special Summit’ in order to secure a momentum for further deepening and developing Korea-Africa cooperation.
In addition, Chung condemned Russia’s armed invasion of Ukraine as a violation of the fundamental principles of the UN Charter, and stated that the Korean government had joined the international community’s sanctions against Russia, based on the government’s position that Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity should be respected.
Senegalese Foreign Minister Aissata Tall Sall appreciated the achievements made in cooperation since the 4th Korea-Africa Forum in 2016, and mentioned that the Senegalese government, as the chair of the AU, would play a leading role in expanding Korea-Africa cooperation as global solidarity had become more important in the era of COVID-19.
AUC Deputy Chairperson Nsanzabaganwa emphasized the importance of expanding cooperation with Korea for the economic growth of the African continent, and hoped that Korean companies would enter the Africa market more actively in areas such as the expansion of infrastructure connectivity between countries and the fostering of value-added industries.
In his welcoming video speech, Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum took note that the African continent was transforming into an economic community with a GDP of US$3 trillion and a population of 1.3 billion since the establishment of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) last year, and stated that as the first country to rise from a developing country to an advanced country since the establishment of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), Korea would actively share its development experience with African countries.
At the ministerial-level meeting that followed, measures to strengthen Korea-Africa cooperation in the areas of health, economy, peace and security were discussed. And as outcome documents, the ‘Seoul Declaration 2022’ and the ‘Cooperation Framework 2022-2026’, which stipulates specific areas of cooperation between Korea and Africa for the next five years, were adopted.
The delegations were scheduled to visit Busan as part of an industrial inspection programme on Friday, March 4, and the Korean government would request their support for its bid to host the 2030 Busan World Expo.