Intensify tech support for Africa — President

Source: The Herald – Breaking news.

Intensify tech support for Africa — President 
President Mnangagwa poses for a group picture with other Heads of State at the South Korea-Africa Summit at Kintex International Exhibition Centre in IIsan town, northwest of Seoul City, South Korea yesterday. — Picture: Presidential Photographer Tawanda Mudimu

Hebert Zharare in SEOUL, South Korea

PRESIDENT Mnangagwa yesterday implored South Korea to intensify technology transfer to African countries and help facilitate support for the continent’s businesses and entrepreneurs so that they can penetrate lucrative global value chains.

The President said this while addressing the inaugural South Korea-Africa Summit, held at the giant KINTEX exhibition centre in IIsan town, about 40km out of Seoul. The summit was attended by 48 countries, 25 of which were represented at Head of State and Government level.

This also comes as South Korea announced it would expand its official development assistance (ODA) to approximately US$10 billion by 2030 and provide export financing of about US$14 billion to help South Korean companies expand investment in Africa.

South Korea is a key global economic player, particularly in the food industry, as well as a major actor in the sector of beneficiation of minerals, technology advancement and home to some of the world-acclaimed global giants such as Samsung, LG, automobile makers like Hyundai, KIA, Daewoo and SsangYong.

President Mnangagwa was accompanied by Zimbabwe’s Ambassador to South Korea, Mr Stewart Nyakotyo, and Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister, Ambassador Frederick Shava.

In the summit room, the President had the opportunity to chat with his colleagues, including the African Development Bank (AfDB) president, Dr Akinwumi Adesina, who is also champion of Zimbabwe’s debt resolution and arrears clearance strategy with multilateral lenders.

In his address to the summit, President Mnangagwa said Africa has rich natural resources, abundant arable land, a young population, as well as the requisite resource and climate for new green energy solutions among other factors.  

“Riding on these, it is important for this summit to commit to increase investment for the localisation of the manufacturing processes in Africa.

“This is the economic solidarity that will guarantee shared and transformative growth. To build the future together, we must be bold by facilitating and supporting African businesses and entrepreneurs to enter global value chains. This will not only help in Africa’s economic diversification, but also create quality jobs, particularly for women and the youths.”

The President said Zimbabwe was ready to welcome partnerships and investment from South Korea in agriculture as well as in the value addition of numerous strategic minerals the country was endowed with, including lithium, iron and steel, platinum, chrome, nickel, gold and lime among others.

He said there was huge potential in the agro-based manufacturing industries, tourism and infrastructure development sub-sectors. Zimbabwe is home to some of the major tourist attractions in the world, that include the Mighty Victoria Falls, Great Zimbabwe monuments and Nyanga Mountains among  others. 

However, during President Mnangagwa’s one on one meeting with South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol on Monday, the two leaders lamented a fall in tourist arrivals from South Korea with figures showing that arrivals that were hovering around 20 000 tourists visiting Zimbabwe pre-Covid-19 era, had dwindled to the current 2 000.

But Zimbabwe’s tourism receipts bulked by 24 percent to US$272,26 million in the period to September 2023 from US$219,45 million achieved during the previous quarter of the same year, largely on the back of improved tourist arrivals, according to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) economic review for the quarter to September 2023.

On climate change related challenges, President Mnangagwa said the negative effect of climate change had heightened the need for in-country and cross border projects within Southern Africa, in relation to green energy and power generation. 

“The Korea-Rice Initiative is commended and presents great scope for leveraging Korea’s technology ingenuity in the agriculture sector to boost diversified food production and security in Africa.”

President Mnangagwa said Zimbabwe had instituted agriculture reforms, which have seen

 it realising self-sufficiency in wheat production, save for the current climate change-induced drought.

“Your Excellencies, the importance of deepening cooperation between the Republic of Korea and Africa in science and technology innovation, cannot be over emphasised. Hence the (South) Korea-Africa Cooperation Framework should see us scale up skills and technology transfer, digitalisation and the growth of knowledge-based economies, anchored by science and innovation. Similarly, the support of youths-owned African start-ups will also go a long way towards the production of more goods made in Africa for the world,” he said.

The summit theme: “The Future We Make Together: Shared Growth, Sustainability and Solidarity”, is timely as it resonates well with Zimbabwe’s national development agenda that “leaves none and no place behind”.

In the context of the Southern African region as well as the African continent’s Agenda 2063, President Mnangagwa said Zimbabwe was committed to scale up collaboration with South Korea and others within the community of nations to achieve mutually beneficial shared growth and prosperity.

“Zimbabwe is open for business and a friend to all and an enemy of none. Regrettably for the past 23 years, my country continues to be adversely affected by the unwarranted and illegal sanctions imposed by some Western countries. These sanctions are indeed against the spirit of the theme of this summit.

“However, leveraging on our abundant and rich natural resources, high literacy levels, strategic geographic location and pleasant climate, we are modernising and industrialising our country towards sustainable socio–economic development,” he said.

President Mnangagwa said the journey travelled by the Republic of Korea was a beacon and a source of encouragement for many countries, as numerous lessons could be drawn in terms of the appropriate policy ecosystem.

From the devastating war that ended in the 1950s, South Korea has grown to be number 12 in the world as far as economic development is concerned. It has a Growth Product of close to US$2 trillion, has a population of over 52 million and is home to global companies such as Samsung, LG, KIA, Hyundai, Daewoo, SsangYong among others.

In his address to the summit, President Yoon said South Korea wanted to expand trade and investment with Africa through a series of agreements, such as Economic Partnerships Agreements (EPAs) and Trade and Investment Promotion Frameworks (TIPS).

He pledged to support Africa’s efforts towards regional economic integration through the African Continental Free Trade Area launched in 2019.

“In terms of trade, we will speed up the signing of EPAs and TIPFs. On the investment front, we will expand investment protection agreements to promote exchanges between the two countries’ companies,” said President Yoon in his opening remarks.

He said to further promote cooperation with Africa, South Korea was expanding its official development assistance (ODA) to approximately US$10 billion and providing export financing of about US$14 billion to help South Korean companies expand into Africa.

President Yoon said South Korea would work with African nations to ensure resilient supply chains of critical minerals and digital transformation and to address climate change, food security and public health issues.

“We will seek sustainable cooperation solutions for issues directly related to future growth, such as the stable supply of critical minerals and digital transformation.”