The 4th Africa-Korea Forum in Addis Ababa this week

The Fourth Africa-Korea Forum took place this week on Tuesday and Wednesday this week at the African Union Headquarters in Addis Ababa. The main objective was the enhancing and strengthening of the economic, social and political partnerships and cooperation between Africa and the Republic of Korea. It also had the aim of reviewing the implementation of the previous plan of action (2013-2015), and to identify further areas of cooperation based on mutual interests for the coming five years. The Forum also adopted the "Addis-Ababa Declaration for the 4th Africa-Korea Forum" and the "2017-2022 Africa-Korea Forum Framework for Cooperation".  

The Senior Officials meeting held prior to the Ministerial Forum was held on Tuesday. Sessions included remarks by representatives of governments and the African Union Commission, and consideration of a review of the implementation of the Plan of Action introduced at the 3rd African-Korea Forum. They also included consideration of the draft outcome document for the 4th Africa-Korea Forum later addressed by presentation of the Addis Ababa Declaration of the 4th Africa-Korea Forum and the "Framework for cooperation."

In his opening remarks at the Senior Officials meeting, Ambassador Wahide Belay, Permanent Representative of Ethiopia to the African Union and the Economic Commission for Africa, welcomed participants to Addis Ababa and commended the sub-committee on multilateral cooperation for the preparation of the outcome documents. Korea, he noted had been a symbol of success and a model for many countries; it had been "one of the handful of success stories during the last century." He emphasized that there were "fertile grounds for cooperation in industrialization, agriculture, science and technology transfer, human resources development and even more." He stressed that to harness the potential of Africa for peoples' all-rounded development, Africa was also designing its own policies and strategies. "I believe", he said, "that one of the key strategies for the advancement of Africa is to beneficially integrate into the global economy, and this can, in turn, be facilitated through effective collaboration with partner countries such as the republic of Korea".

Speaking on behalf AU Commissioner, Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, Ms. Fatima Haram, AU Commissioner for Trade and Industry, said Africa had strong partnerships with various regions and countries worldwide. She praised the on-going partnership between the Africa Union Commission and African Countries with the Republic of Korea. She noted the importance of concerted efforts to realize further strong regional and continental ties in line with the African Union Agenda 2063. She said Korea had huge development experience and this could be shared with African Countries.

Mr. Kwon Hee-Seog, Director General for Africa and Middle Eastern Affairs for Korea's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, emphasized that that close and wide ranging cooperation between Korea and African countries was a priority for Korea. He said partnerships would be further enhanced through such mechanisms as the African-Korea Forum and the framework of cooperation between the African Continent and the Republic of Korea.  

The Ministerial sessions of the Forum, taking place for the first time in Africa,  took place on Wednesday (December 7). Those attending included ministers and senior officials from Korea and high-level government officials from across Africa as well as the Chairperson of the AU, the immediate past Chairperson of AU, the Chairperson of AU Commission, NEPAD founding members, and the Chairs of the Regional Economic Communities - Ethiopia (IGAD), Libya (AMU), Kingdom of Swaziland (SADC), United Republic of Tanzania (EAC), Madagascar (COMESA), Liberia (ECOWAS), Gabon (ECCAS), Chad (CEN-SAD).  

In his opening remarks, Dr. Workneh Gebeyehu, Foreign Minister of Ethiopia, said since the launching of the first Korea-Africa Forum in Seoul in 2006, the fora had been held in the Republic of Korea. Ethiopia was pleased to host this Fourth Africa-Korea Forum for the first time in Africa, suitably in Addis Ababa, the Diplomatic Capital of Africa. Following agreement in 2012 to apply a principle of rotation, alternately in Africa and in Korea, for the future meetings of the fora, Ethiopia was designated by Africa as the host for the Fourth Africa-Korea Forum meeting.

Dr. Workneh, praising Korea's successful development story, stressed Korea's massive economic, social and political transformation. It was, he said, now one of the world's industrial powerhouses. He emphasized that Africa could draw valuable lessons from Korea's "rapid industrialization, scientific advancement and educational gains." The partnership of Africa and Korea also provided ample opportunity for mutual growth and the prosperity of their respective peoples. The Foreign Minister noted that the first years of implementation of Agenda 2063 and its framework of cooperation provided a sound basis for enhanced cooperation with the Republic of Korea. Referring to the UNECA's Economic Report on Africa 2016, Dr. Workneh said "Africa has registered some of the fastest growing economies in a constrained global environment". Equally, it still relied heavily on production and export of raw commodities, so drawing on best experiences from Korea would be very valuable. Dr. Workneh said, "Cooperation in industrialization, knowledge and technology transfer, among others, would enable us to add value and benefit from our abundant natural resources."

Erastus Mwencha, Deputy Chairperson of the Africa Union Commission, said the Forum was an opportunity to review strategic partnerships for mutual growth and prosperity. He noted that the people-to-people ties between the two sides were growing steadily. He commended Korea for the 6000 scholarships given to young Africans and the 4000 Korean volunteers who had come to Africa under exchange programs. The Deputy Chairperson emphasized Africa had the opportunity to draw experience from a wide range of sectors of Korea,  including mining, tourism, infrastructure development, and airlines among others. He said cooperation in other economic areas was growing rapidly and he praised Korea's role in supporting peace and security in Africa. Dr. Mwencha said the African continent and the Republic of Korea should work further to strengthen and solidify their partnerships over a wide range of areas. The African Union Commission, he said, would collaborate on implementation of programs based on the framework of cooperation agreed by the two sides.

Korea's Foreign Minister, Mr. Yun Byung-se, said that "this year is the year of Africa in Korean Diplomacy". He said Africa was a priority region for Korea and particularly for economic sector cooperation, development cooperation and peace and security. He mentioned Korea's involvement in Africa's rural development, healthcare and education sectors as well as development assistance and bilateral ODA. The Korean Foreign Minister took the opportunity to ask for African support against the North Korean nuclear program. He emphasized that Africa had been a long-standing friend for South Korea and stressed that the Forum should be instrumental in raising ties to higher level once again. Yun Byung-se said the two regions, among other aspects, would work in close collaboration for the peace, prosperity and human dignity of their respective peoples.

The ministerial sessions of the Forum included deliberations on a variety of themes, including "Enhancing Peace and Security in Africa' and the ‘Africa-Korea Partnership for a Shared Economic Development'. In conclusion, the Ministers adopted the Final Document of the 4th Africa-Korea Forum. This included the "Addis Ababa Declaration" and the "Framework for Cooperation".