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2024 Korea-Africa Summit: Strengthening Ties for Mineral Development

South Korea and African leaders have started a “critical minerals dialogue” to develop Africa’s resources sustainably.

In the first summit with leaders from 48 African nations, President Yoon Suk Yeol made a big pledge. He committed to increasing development aid for Africa to $10 billion over six years. This shows South Korea’s interest in Africa’s mineral wealth and export opportunities.

President Yoon said the dialogue will ensure a stable supply chain through cooperation. “The Critical Minerals Dialogue launched by South Korea and Africa will set an example for a stable supply chain through mutually beneficial cooperation and contribute to sustainable development of mineral resources around the world,” Yoon said.

South Korea is a major energy buyer and home to top semiconductor producers. Hyundai Motor Group, the world’s fifth-largest automaker, is pushing for electrification. 

Africa, with 30% of the world’s reserves of critical minerals like chrome, cobalt, and manganese, is crucial to South Korea.

Also Read: Kenya and U.S. Forge New Investment Deals in Green Energy, Security, and Technology

Joint Declaration and Tech4Africa Initiative

In a joint declaration, South Korea, the African Union (AU), and its member nations promised to speed up economic partnership talks. They will promote trade and investment frameworks. 

Moreover, they agreed to advance cooperation for Africa’s food security. South Korea will support this with agricultural technology and smart farming. 

African leaders welcomed South Korea’s “Tech4Africa” initiative, aimed at supporting the education and training of Africa’s youth.

AU chair and Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Ghazouani said African countries want to learn from Korea’s development experience. 

This includes human resources, industrialization, and digital transformation. President Yoon proposed “shared growth” as a cooperation pillar with Africa. Leaders agreed to expand trade and investment by creating institutional frameworks.

By offering help with industrial infrastructure and digital transformation, South Korea aims to tap into Africa’s vast and growing market. 

This market is home to 1.4 billion people, mostly under 25 years old. The leaders noted the instability of global supply chains. Future industries depend on a stable supply of mineral resources.

They further agreed to start the Korea-Africa Critical Minerals Dialogue, enhancing cooperation between Korea and Africa. 

South Korea’s Development Approach

Park Jong-dae, a former South Korean ambassador, argued that Western and Chinese development models failed Africa. He said South Korea offers a better alternative focused on human development and management.

“The essence of the Korean model of development cooperation is human development, and about management, rather than about provision of assistance per se.

“Korea has the experience and know-how of development. While many African countries have immense possibilities for development based on yet to be explored, untapped resources and endowment, and dynamic young population,” he said.

On Wednesday June 5th 2024, South Korean business leaders will host a business summit on investment, industrial development, and food security. 

President Yoon also held talks with 25 leaders on the summit’s sidelines. He agreed with Tanzania’s leaders to provide $2.5 billion in concessional loans. 

Ethiopia will receive $1 billion for infrastructure, science, technology, health, and urban development. Kenyan President William Ruto announced that South Korea would provide $485 million in concessional development funding.