South Korea's Yoon hosts Africa summit to tap minerals, vast export market

03 June 2024 - 08:45 By Jack Kim
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South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol.
South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol.
Image: JEON HEON-KYUN/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

Africa's rich mineral resources and its potential as a vast export market are at the top of South Korea's agenda as it hosts a summit with the leaders of 48 nations this week with plans for aid on industrial infrastructure and digital transformation.

Africa is a “crucial partner” for South Korea to further its industrial advances and “co-operation with Africa is not a choice but a necessity”, President Yoon Suk Yeol's deputy national security adviser Kim Tae-hyo said.

At least 30 heads of state are attending the summit on Tuesday, with delegations from 48 countries participating. Yoon and the chair of AU, President Mohamed Ould Ghazouani of Mauritania, will issue a joint statement, Yoon's office said.

On Wednesday, South Korean business leaders will host a business summit focused on investment, industrial development and food security.

“Africa's strategic importance has never been greater,” Kim said.

South Korea is one of the world's largest energy buyers and is home to leading semiconductor producers and the world's fifth largest automaker making a push for electrification. Partnership with Africa with 30% of the world's critical mineral including chrome, cobalt and manganese is crucial, Yoon's office said.

Since Friday, Yoon has held meetings with the leaders of Sierra Leone, Tanzania and Ethiopia and is scheduled to meet separately the heads of other states including Zimbabwe, Togo, Rwanda and Mozambique on Monday.

By reaching out with offers to help with industrial infrastructure and digital transformation, South Korea is trying to tap into a vast and fast-growing market that is home to 1.4 billion people, the majority of whom are 25 or younger.

Agreements aimed at laying the groundwork for trade and investment are expected to be signed with several countries, which will help establish the administrative foundation for freer trade and advanced customs management, Kim said.

Aid on agricultural technology and plans for co-operation on climate change responses are also on the agenda.


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