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Cape Town, 19 November, 2007 – Senior government officials from some ten Southern African countries are meeting in Cape Town for the second of a series of regional workshops organized by the Korean government to share its development experience with Africa. The Korea-Africa Economic Cooperation (KOAFEC) workshop seeks to provide participants with an overview of Korea’s economic development experiences and to explore possibilities for applying lessons learned in African countries.
Opening the meeting in Cape Town, the Korean Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance and Economy, Okyu Kwon spoke of the timely opportunity to explore better ways to accelerate poverty reduction efforts in Africa, pointing to improving governance and economic performance in the region. "Africa, a continent full of undiscovered potential," he noted, "has been receiving unprecedented attention from the global community in recent years."
The Deputy Prime Minister said that while fast economic growth was no longer exclusive to Korea, it was his conviction that "Korea possesses the development experience that can be the most realistic and suitable model for Africa." He pointed to those measures pursued by the Korean government during the course of the countries economic development – measures outlined in the World Bank’s current Africa Action Plan: focus on results; capable states and improving governance; strengthening the drivers of growth; ensuring shared growth; and aid effectiveness.
Mr. Kwon said the government focused its resources on its most competitive areas with strong and capable leadership and made sure that foreign aid was allocated in areas that could produce the most pronounced results. It also actively opened its doors to overseas trade "to venture out of our under-developed domestic markets and to expose Korean companies to global competition," he added.
The government, he went on, also focused on educating and nurturing highly skilled labour and on developing social safety nets, once the economy expanded to a certain level, to ensure that the benefits of growth were broadly shared. I hope, he concluded, "that the workshop will serve as a vehicle through which Korea can contribute to the miraculous transition that Africa is soon to embark on."
The workshop was addressed by the Co-Chair of the KOAFEC Consultative Group and AfDB Executive Director, Bruce Montador and the AfDB Chief Economist, Louis Kasekende.
The four-day gathering brought together senior government officials from Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe.