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The Republic of Korea is one of the Bank’s most active and generous partners. It joined the African Development Fund in 1980 and the African Development Bank in 1982. Korea’s pledge to the institution’s concessional funding base has grown steadily, further cementing the country’s longstanding, critical friendship with Africa. Korea has an economic policy that touches broadly on all of the Bank’s High 5s with a focus on sustainable natural resource management and infrastructure, human resource development, information and communication technologies, specifically those linked to the Fourth Industrial Revolution, green growth, and agriculture development. Additionally, Korea is keen to support sharing development experiences. Its relationship with Africa is unique in that it made the successful transition from aid recipient nation to donor country within a single generation, making Korea one of Africa’s most influential and credible advisors on economic transformation.
Korea-Africa Economic Cooperation: KOAFEC Conference
The Korea-Africa Economic Cooperation (KOAFEC) was established in 2006 as a major policy initiative of Korea to drive its contribution to Africa’s development agenda. In the same year, it launched a conference to mobilize the various stakeholders and drive consultation between Korean and African government officials. This has since evolved into a biennial event for which the African Development Bank is a proud co-sponsor. A hallmark of KOAFEC Conference at large is the KOAFEC Ministerial Conference that brings ministers and delegations from all over Africa to Korea for dialogue. Other attendees include government organizations, the private sector, academia, and the media, to serve as a comprehensive platform for promoting a mutually beneficial partnership between Korea and Africa. Its objectives include building a broad-based partnership for Africa’s development by crafting state strategies, and increasing business and trade opportunities. The conference typically welcomes over 500 participants and delivers concrete results through development projects and action plans. For more information on the KOAFEC Conferences and the Republic of Korea’s Joint Declarations for Africa, check here.
KOAFEC Bilateral Trust Fund
In 2007, the Bank and the Government of the Republic of Korea signed a General Cooperation Agreement that underpinned the establishment of the KOAFEC Trust Fund, now one of the most important bilateral funds of the Bank in terms of size and replenishment levels. Currently, there are US $75 million in pledged grant resources. The Trust Fund supports project preparation, capacity building and technical assistance in regional member countries, including joint research and knowledge sharing between Korea and Africa. In 2013, a new General Cooperation Agreement further enhanced cooperation by permitting the KOAFEC bilateral fund to provide funding to multi-donor trust fund housed at the Bank.
After successfully co-financing a number of the African Development Bank’s sovereign investment operations, the Republic of Korea signed a US $600 million co-financing Memorandum of Understanding with the Bank for an initial period of three years (2015-2018). In 2016, Korea committed US $155 million to four pipeline projects in Eastern Africa. The ongoing co-financing agreement means that the Bank works closely with Korean agencies and implementation partners, including the Economic Development Cooperation Fund and the Korean Export-Import Bank.
Korea is also keen to ensure that its people better understand Africa and the work of the African Development Bank Group. It has introduced special initiatives such as the Multilateral Development Bank Job Fair in Seoul to promote the Korea-Bank Special Internship Program and several staff exchanges and secondment programs. For example, Korea has seconded technical assistants in some Bank departments including the Resource Mobilization and Partnerships Department and Chief Economist’s complex. This provides the Bank and its partners the opportunity to learn more from bilateral agencies such as Korea Development Institute (and the Korean Expressway Corporation.