South Korea ready to partner with Africa on technology


IN partnership with the African Development Bank (AfDB), Korea is ready to step up technology transfers to Africa, officials said in Seoul on Thursday.

Speaking at a meeting on potential technology partnerships between Korea and Africa, representatives of Busan Metropolitan City, Busan Techno Park, and Korea’s Green Technology Centre said there was huge potential for co-operation and immense opportunities for job-creating bankable projects.

The range of business options include agriculture, green growth, smart urban transportation management, and numerous business opportunities.

According to AfDB President Akinwumi Adesina, ‘the future is going to be an exponentially different future,’ and that the Bank 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.’

Hyung-Ju Kim, Director, Global Strategy Division, Green Technology Centre, added, ‘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.’

With funding from the Korea-Africa Co-operation (KOAFEC) Fund, the AfDB, in co-operation with Busan Metropolitan City, and the Busan Techno Park, has launched, 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 AfDB 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.

Adesina said, ‘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 AfDB, it is important that the technological partnership with Korea translates into capacity building on the ground, through training, so that Africa can industrialise, build or assemble drones.

Busan City’s dominance as a Smart City on the cutting edge of artificial intelligence,  is thanks in part to political vision, one of the largest research and development expenditures in the world, and a team of 12,000 researchers and scientists.

Speaking afterwards to the African diplomatic corps in Seoul, Adesina identified three main obstacles to private sector development —access to finance, energy and stability. The Bank has invested $1bn in AfreximBank, he said, 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 percent 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,’ Adesina said. 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.

Adesina, the head of Africa’s leading development finance institution, says, the Bank’s 2018 Africa Investment Forum in South Africa, ‘secured investment commitments worth $38.7bn in less than 72 hours, which provides a strong indication of global interest in Africa’s emerging markets.’

Experts say in order for the AfDB to continue supporting the continent’s development, a general capital increase is necessary. According to Adesina, an $11bn increase in paid-in capital, for example, would significantly change the lives of millions of people, including 105 million who would have access to electricity, 137 million who would benefit from access to improved agricultural technologies, 22 million who would benefit from investments in private sector projects, 151 million with access to improved transportation services, and 110 million who would be provided with access to improved water and sanitation services.

The dean of the Board of Directors of the AfDB, Abdelmajid Mellouki, estimates that a general capital increase would enable the Bank to provide African countries with funding at significantly lower costs.


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