THE Africa-Korea Business Summit recently convened at the Peninsula Hotel in Paris, bringing together key stakeholders from Africa and South Korea to explore collaborative opportunities and discuss strategies for market entry into Africa. Organised by the Korea-Africa Foundation and the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI), with support from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea, the summit was held under the theme of Africa-Korean partnership in an era of great transformation.
Lyeo Woon-ki, President of the Korea-Africa Foundation, emphasised the summit’s role in laying the groundwork for the 2024 Korea-Africa Summit. The summit provided a vital platform for Korean companies to delve into market entry strategies in Africa, particularly in light of the AfCFTA’s full implementation since 2021. The Korean government plans to host the Korea-Africa Summit in 2024 within Korea itself.
The AfCFTA, described as the most extensive free trade zone in terms of geographical coverage and participating countries since the inception of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), encompasses 54 of the 55 African Union countries (excluding Eritrea). With a combined population of 1.3 billion people and a collective GDP of $3.4 trillion, this economic bloc holds significant promise.
The summit featured presentations and in-depth discussions on various topics, including economic integration, trade, industrialisation, and productivity gaps. It also explored opportunities for collaboration with Korean businesses and investors across diverse sectors, including agriculture, mining, energy, renewables, manufacturing, and digitalisation.
The event drew over 150 participants, including prominent figures such as Wamkele Mene, Secretary-General of the AfCFTA; Albert Muchanga, Commissioner for Trade and Industry of the African Union Commission; and Jang Sung-min, Special Envoy and Senior Secretary to the President for Future Strategy of the Republic of Korea. Other distinguished attendees included Ban Ki-moon, former UN Secretary-General; Yu Jeong-joon, Vice Chairman of SK Group; and Seo Sang-hyun, Senior Researcher at POSCO.
Former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in a video message, commended the Africa-Korea Business Summit as an excellent initiative. He emphasised Africa’s emergence as the world’s largest growth market and underscored Africa’s critical role in addressing global challenges like the climate crisis.
Wamkele Mene, Secretary-General of the AfCFTA, highlighted the opportunities for investors in Africa, suggesting that companies like Hyundai and Samsung could expand their manufacturing bases on the continent.
Choi Kyong-lim, former Korean representative for WTO CTG, encouraged efforts to enhance economic partnerships between Africa and Korea, citing the relatively low trade volume between the two regions.
Jang Sung-min, Special Envoy and Senior Secretary to the President for Future Strategy of the Republic of Korea, acknowledged Africa’s growing significance as a global growth hub and emphasized the need for regional integration with the AfCFTA.
Albert Muchanga, AU Commissioner for Trade and Industry, stressed the importance of productivity growth in achieving inclusive and sustainable development across Africa, drawing lessons from Korea’s development experience.
Vice President Yu for International Cooperation at SK Group expressed the company’s commitment to exploring new cooperation opportunities with African countries, recognising Africa’s vast business potential.
President Lyeo Woon-Ki of the Korea-Africa Foundation concluded that the summit transcends a typical business forum, aiming to shape new cooperation initiatives between Korea and Africa. The event stands as a testament to the growing partnership between the two regions in an era of transformation.