SA to participate in Korea-Africa Forum

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Pretoria - South Africa will participate in the second Korea-Africa Forum which will explore ways to strengthen ties on development and cooperation between Korea and the African continent.

International Relations and Cooperation Deputy Minister Ebrahim Ebrahim will lead a South African delegation to the forum scheduled for Tuesday in Seoul, South Korea.

The forum provides a unique opportunity for the two sides to exchange views on issues of mutual interest and explore further ways of strengthening economic cooperation and experience sharing in many areas of mutual interest.

According to the Department of International Relations and Cooperation, South Africa participates in the forum within the context of deepening South-South cooperation and to further explore possible areas of cooperation between Korea and the African continent.

It said the Korea-Africa partnership is in line with government's national priorities and is of strategic importance to South Africa.

"The cooperation between Korea and Africa should be considered a strategic engagement given that South Korea is one of the first donor recipient countries to turn into a donor country through rapid economic growth and Africa stands to benefit from Korean economic transformation," it explained.

Among others, the forum will seek ways on how to increase trade and promote Korean investment on the continent.

Infrastructure development, information and communication technology, agricultural and rural development, are said to be high on the agenda.

The key outcomes of the forum are the adoption of the Seoul Declaration as well as the Action Plan.

Korea held its first bilateral forum with Africa in November 2006, when Seoul vowed to increase its official development assistance and increase the number of volunteer workers to Africa, as well as invited some 1 000 workers and students from the continent by the end of this year.

Seoul in recent years has been stepping up its diplomacy efforts towards Africa, with its credit and grant-type aid to the continent rising to a total of $107.1 million in 2008, compared to $42.4 million in 2005

While in South Korea, Deputy Minister will meet with the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade of the Republic of Korea and will visit the "Saemaul Undong" Rural Development Project, among others.

Rural Development is one of the 10 Government priorities as highlighted by President Jacob Zuma.

The bilateral meeting between South Africa and South Korea, scheduled for Wednesday, will seek to examine ways to enhance existing bilateral relations, particularly deepening cooperation in the area of technology.

South Korea has been participating in South Africa's Joint Initiative on Priority Skills Acquisition (JIPSA) program since it was put in place.