For a Safer Earth, Healthier Climate

Korea,Africa Rally Additional Finance, Technology For Universal Energy Access

By Ruth Tene Natsa, Abuja

The 7th Korea-Africa Economic Cooperation (KOAFEC) Ministerial Conference opened in Korea’s second-largest city, Busan, on Wednesday with a strong call for additional resources to help African countries achieve universal access to energy and transform the continent into the breadbasket of the world.

The conference is taking place at a time when Africa is facing a plethora of challenges. Nearly 600 million people on the continent have no access to electricity. In addition, despite rapid growth across the continent, hunger is still pervasive in some countries, affecting some 283 million people. The Russia-Ukraine war has exacerbated this figure. So also has the lingering effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and climate change.

This is why Korea and African nations, under the aegis of KOAFEC, have agreed to deepen their cooperation with much more emphasis on mutually beneficial investment.

The African Development Bank Group and the Ministry of Economy and Finance of the Republic of Korea are co-hosting the three-day conference under the theme “Embracing a Sustainable Future: Just Energy Transition and Agricultural Transformation in Africa.” This embraces these two critical development priorities for Africa.

Korea’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy and Finance, Kyungho Choo, underlined the crucial role that Korea and Africa must play. He highlighted Korea’s strength in high-tech industry and innovative technology. He also pointed to the many opportunities that Africa offered as the world’s future market and industrial base with a vibrant young population.

“Together, our two worlds can become the most solid rock of solidarity,” he told the meeting, stressing the need for Africa and Korea to strengthen cooperation.

In his opening remarks, African Development Bank Group President Akinwumi Adesina urged delegates to seize the conference as a critical opportunity to galvanise support for several objectives: achieving universal energy access in Africa, advancing a just energy transition and transforming the African continent into the breadbasket of the world.

“Doing so will require additional resources,” Adesina said. He said the anticipated reallocation of the International Monetary Fund Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) to the African Development Bank was the key to attracting additional resources to develop Africa.

The African Development Bank chief urged Korea to join other countries that have expressed strong interest in reallocating SDRs to the African Development Bank Group.

“This will be a game changer for Africa’s development,” Adesina declared.

Adesina described the KOAFEC conference as a good opportunity to discuss progress on relations between Korea and Africa, development challenges and opportunities in Africa, and a chance for all parties to continue to work together to accelerate the growth and development of Africa.

He noted that for African countries to collectively meet the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, the continent required an investment of $2.3 trillion. He highlighted limited access to electricity as a significant hurdle, pointing out that this was a commodity still beyond the reach of nearly 600 million people.

“To achieve universal access to electricity, we must add 90 million people annually by 2030. We must also add 130 million people annually to achieve universal access to clean cooking energy,” Adesina said.

He said Africa had enormous renewable energy potential, including 11 terawatts of solar—the highest in the world—of which only one percent was used. Adesina also said the African Development Bank invested heavily in renewable energy, with the share of renewable energy in its power generation portfolio now standing at 87%.

The Bank president emphasised, however, that it would be impossible to provide universal access to electricity for Africa relying only on renewables because of their high intermittent and variability, which negatively affected reliability for industrial use.

“As we think of Just Energy Transition, Africa must not be denied the opportunity to use its natural gas, which it now has in abundance from new discoveries. Doing so will not add to climate crisis. Rather, it will reduce emissions in Africa,” Adesina said.

He told the audience that the African Development Bank was participating in the Just Energy Transition Partnerships in South Africa and Senegal ($2.5 billion) with the European Union, the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, and France.

He explained that the Bank would support the South African Just Energy Partnerships through a $1 billion guarantee facility from the United Kingdom, adding that the institution also supported efforts to develop more bankable projects through its New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) Infrastructure Project Preparation Facility and Africa50.

The African Development Bank chief concluded: “Africa’s future is bright. And it will be brighter still with a strong partnership with South Korea. Let us accelerate Africa’s growth and development together. Let us succeed together.”

Dr. Hwang-yong Kim, Director General of the Technology Cooperation Bureau, Korea Rural Development Administration, indicated there was every reason for confidence that African countries could emulate Korea’s successful development trajectory. He explained that in the 1960s, after the Korean War, the country was one of the poorest nations in the world—Korea even received assistance from some African countries, said earlier Dr Adesina. Kim noted that through its transformative agriculture, Korea has since become one of the largest economies in the world.

The 7th KOAFEC Ministerial Conference brings together many important stakeholders in Africa’s development. This includes 33 African finance ministers and African Development Bank executive directors representing African member countries, African ambassadors, heads of pan-African institutions, and various non-governmental organisations, as well as African CEOs and Korean private sector leaders.

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