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Supervisor Elham AbolFateh
Editor in Chief Mohamed Wadie

South Korea: A New International Player Seeking a Foothold to Compete with Major Powers in Africa


Thu 06 Jun 2024 | 07:43 AM
2024 Korea-Africa Summit
2024 Korea-Africa Summit
Nada Mustafa

Yesterday, South Korean capital hosted the 1st Korea-Africa summit with the participation of around 48 African leaders, marking a new chapter in South Korea's relations with African countries.

This can be described as a new international player entering the race to gain a foothold on the continent, seeking to benefit from the significant opportunities that cooperation with its countries represents.

On the sidelines of the summit, South Korea signed approximately 50 preliminary agreements with African countries aimed at enhancing cooperation in trade, energy, critical minerals, and a wide range of other industrial and economic fields.

 South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol affirmed that his country will strengthen cooperation with African countries to secure stable supplies of critical minerals and expedite negotiations to support economic partnerships and trade.

In his speech at the opening of the first summit with leaders from 48 African countries in Seoul yesterday, Tuesday, Yoon stated that South Korea will increase its development aid to Africa to $10 billion over the next six years as it looks to exploit the continent's rich mineral resources and its potential as a vast export market.

He pledged to provide $14 billion in export financing to boost trade and investment for South Korean companies in African countries.

The Korean interest in revitalizing economic relations with the continent raises questions about the reason behind Korea's focus on Africa. Is it a new type of competition with China, or is Seoul looking to establish a foothold?

●International Race Towards Africa

Dr. Mohamed Sherif Jako, a Chadian expert on African affairs, told "Afro News 24" that he understands the reason behind South Korea's interest in the African continent in the context of the international race towards Africa to obtain its natural and raw resources. In this regard, he pointed to several international African summits, including, for example, the US-Africa Summit, the Russia-Africa Summit, the China-Africa Summit, the France-Africa Summit, the UK-Africa Summit, and the Japan-Africa Summit.

Dr. Jako emphasized that everyone is now seeking to obtain raw materials and primary resources from the African continent, especially since the continent is rich in the mineral wealth necessary for many vital industries needed by the world.

He pointed out that the majority of African countries are non-industrial, meaning they do not benefit much from exploiting their natural resources, which are exported abroad in their raw, unprocessed form.

The Chadian expert on African affairs said, "I believe that South Korea, as one of the major industrial countries in the world, is entering an economic race, particularly with China and Japan, and therefore it needs African natural resources." He added, "This will only happen by entering the race to secure a foothold in the African continent."

Dr.Jako emphasized that African countries are currently experiencing an awakening. He explained, "This means that Africa is reorganizing its international relations, particularly in the areas of trade, economy, development, and creating job opportunities for its people."

He pointed out that, in the past, relations were limited to Western countries, especially the United States and European Union countries, particularly France. He noted that the current period is witnessing what can be called an African openness to the world with its various circles and poles, not just Europe or Asia.

Moreover, the Chadian expert mentioned that the race towards Africa includes many other international parties, such as India, Brazil, Russia, China, Japan, as well as Turkey and Iran.

He considered that there is a cultural affinity between African countries and Turkey and Iran, especially since they belong to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, which includes a large number of African countries in its membership.

Cho Won Bin, a professor of African politics at Sungkyunkwan University in South Korea and an expert in Korean-African relations, explained the economic factors behind South Korea's interest in the African continent to Radio France International, saying: "South Korean companies have the technology, but we need natural resources. There are tensions between China and the United States. Given that South Korea is very successful in producing electric batteries and semiconductors, we need essential resources in this field."

He added, "Currently, we rely on Chinese supplies, but the United States refuses to use them in production lines, so we have to find alternatives. I believe our companies are very interested in African minerals. We have already invested in Mozambique in natural gas and in Tanzania in coal. This is just the beginning."

2024 Korea-Africa Summit
Chadian Expert Mohamed Sherif Jako