President Kaberuka Urges Korean Investors to take Advantage of Africa’s improving Investment Climate

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President Kaberuka Urges Korean Investors to take Advantage of Africa’s improving Investment Climate

Seoul, 26 April 2006 – The President of the African Development Bank Group, Mr. Donald Kaberuka, has urged Korean businesses to take advantage of the vast improvements in Africa’s investment climate and economic conditions to invest in the continent.

"For the fifth year in a row, the African economy is growing in the neighborhood of 5%, macroeconomic conditions are at their best in three decades while violent conflicts are at their lowest ever," he said.

The ADB Group President was speaking in Seoul on Wednesday at the opening of a forum on Business Opportunities in Africa as part of activities lined up for a week-long Ministerial Conference on Korea-Africa Economic Cooperation, the first ever such initiative organized by the African Development Bank Group and the Korean Eximbank.

"Both the oil and non-oil sectors are performing quite well, with one or two exceptions, conflicts that raged across the land five years ago have abated, further improving  returns on investment", he said.

Mr. Kaberuka cited Africa’s huge infrastructure gap that needs to be filled, the fact that only 3% of the continent’s potential energy resources have been tapped, the urgent need to catch up on the ICT, and the rejuvenated private sector as some of the sure attractions for people who are interested in doing business in Africa.

The ADB Group President, leading a delegation of 13 African ministers paid a courtesy call on President Moo-hyun Roh on Tuesday.

"New and attractive opportunities for investment are emerging in Africa, particularly in the infrastructure sector. Consequently, the existing strong relationship between Africa and this great  country, we have an expectation that Korean companies will take advantage of the relatively high returns on investments in Africa, and accordingly increase their exposures in the African countries," he added.

Mr. Kaberuka acknowledging the vast progress made by Korea from a per capita income of 100$ in 1960 to a member of the OECD with per capita income of over 16,000$, indicated interest by African countries to learn from Korean experiences. The Bank will work with the Korea Eximbank to stimulate the exchange of experiences on both sides.

Speaking in the same vein earlier, the President and Chairman of Eximbank, Mr. Dong Kyu Shin said Korea’s trade and economic cooperation with Africa have achieved greater momentum in the last few years with annual trade volume between the two regions exceeding 9 billion US dollars, which represents an increase of more than seven times since the early 1990s.

 In the same manner, he said, Korea’s direct investment in Africa has reached about 1 billion US dollars. These figures, he added, "clearly reflect not only the friendly atmosphere between the two regions but also the need to further explore the economic potential between Africa and Korea".

Mr. Shin cited the ‘Korea Initiative for Africa’s Development launched by President Roh during his recent visit to Africa (Egypt, Nigeria, Algeria), saying that the conference, coming close on the heels of the visit, will expand interaction between the two sides and create a vital bridge between Korea and African nations. "We will explore as many viable avenues as possible for long-term sustainable partnership", he said. 

African Government officials including 13 ministers and Bank staff among some 200 representatives of the Korean government, business and academic community attending the 24-29 conference that seeks intensify cooperation and economic relations between the two sides.

The Republic of Korea became a State participant in the African Development Fund (ADF) on 27 February 1980 and was admitted into the membership of the African Development Bank on December 30, 1982.

Korea’s subscribed capital to the ADB’s capital stock totaled 96.234 million UA (about US$138.66 million), representing 0.466% of the capital stock as at 31 March 2006. The Korean government’s subscriptions to ADF I to IX totaled 100.892 million UA (about US$ 145.37 million) or 0.784% of overall contribution to the Fund.  The Government pledged to contribute 21.65 million UA (about US$31.20 million) to the 10th replenishment of the Fund (ADF-X). In addition, the government also established a Korea Technical Cooperation Fund (KTCF) in the Bank worth of US$ 2 million to assist African countries.