The 7th Korea-Africa Economic Cooperation (KOAFEC) Ministerial Conference opened in Busan, Korea 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.

Some 33 African finance ministers, ambassadors, heads of pan-African institutions and NGOs, CEOs and Korean private sector leaders are attending the Conference.

During the opening of the conference on Wednesday, 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 great 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 added that 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.

He 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.

“Africa must be a solution to feeding the world, as it has 65 percent of the uncultivated arable land left in the world,” he told delegates, adding: “What Africa does with agriculture will therefore determine the future of food in the world.”

Adesina commended the Korean government for its K-Rice Belt initiative, which will support eight African countries in producing 30 million tons of rice.

The initiative aligns with the African Development Bank’s Feed Africa strategy and the outcome of Dakar 2 Food Summit early this year. The Bank is intent on Africa achieving food self-sufficiency within five years.

Adesina noted that for African countries to collectively meet the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, the continent required an investment of 2.3 trillion USD.

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.

He said much progress had been made since the African Development Bank launched its New Deal on Energy for Africa in 2016.

He explained that while the percentage of those with access to electricity had since increased from 35 percent to 56 percent, there was still much to do.

Source: Ethiopian News Agency

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