Tom, Gangnido, and Africa
By Dong Yeon Kim Deputy Prime Minister & Minister of Strategy and Finance Republic of Korea
Delivered at the 53rd Annual Meetings of the African Development Bank Group in Busan, Korea on May 23, 2018
Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.
First of all, on behalf of the Korean Government and the Korean people,
I would like to welcome all of you to the 2018 Annual Meetings of the African Development Bank Group.
Most of you travelled from the other side of the globe to be here, and perhaps, some of you had to work on the plane.
Like you, I usually have to work during my flight abroad.
In my most recent travel with a long flight, however,
I took some time to read a book that left a deep impression on me.
This book, written 170 years ago, is widely-known around the world and has been translated into many languages.
I would like to share with you a passage from this novel that predicts Africa’s prosperity in the future.
The original text is in old English,,but I will be reading it in the modern form.
“If ever Africa shall show an elevated and cultivated race, – and come it must, some time, her turn to figure in the great drama of human improvement – life will awake there with a gorgeousness and splendor… As God chastens whom he loves, to make Africa the highest and noblest in that kingdom which he will set up, when every other kingdom has been tried, and failed; for the first shall be last, and the last first.”
Can you guess what book this is?
It is the world-renowned novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, written by Harriet Stowe.
When Africa was going through difficult times around 200 years ago,
the author envisioned a promising future of Africa.
Yes, Harriet Stowe was right.
Very surprisingly, we now witness strong evidence of Africa flourishing,
just as she predicted.
Early this decade, Time magazine and The Economist
used the same expression, “Africa Rising,” as the title
to describe Africa’s dynamic development in the 2000s.
Growth in the region over the past 20 years was
3%p higher than the previous period,
and the absolute poverty ratio decreased to
two thirds of what it was two decades ago.
Despite these impressive achievements, however,
Africa’s full potential has not been reached yet.
Industry’s contribution to GDP is still lower
than in other parts of the world,
and natural resources make up 70% of Africa’s export.
To translate Africa’s huge potential into actual economic prosperity,
industrialization is critical.
Considering this importance,
it is very timely for the African Development Bank
to select ‘Industrialization’ as one of President Adesina’s High 5 initiatives
and also as the theme of this year’s Annual Meetings.
Suggestions for Africa’s Industrialization
Ladies and gentlemen,
I would like to address three points on Africa’s industrialization.
Two of these points are my suggestions on its future direction,
and the last point is on one of the most promising areas of cooperation
between Korea and Africa.
First, the Need for an Innovative Approach.
Industrialization policy should take into account
the unique conditions of each country.
While much can be learned from other countries,
these cannot be applied uniformly in another country
without considering its economic and social context
and external circumstances.
In the face of the Fourth Industrial Revolution,
a new approach has become more important than ever.
New technologies can provide leapfrogging opportunities
by speeding up the industrialization process and creating new value.
Africa is well-positioned to capitalize on these technologies,
on the back of its favorable structural factors.
More than half of its population is under the age of 19.
With better education and training,
this young generation can drive Africa’s economic transformation.
In this context, it is encouraging to see
that Africa’s digital consumer base is growing rapidly,
and the number of smartphone users will exceed 700 million by year 2020.
I hope that these factors will lead African countries
to achieve “Miracles of the Desert,”
comparable to “Miracle on the Han River”
that Korea has achieved during its development era.
Second, the Importance of Inclusive Growth.
It is widely known that 6 out of the 10 countries
with the highest growth rate are in Africa.
However, we need to note that 7 out of 20 countries
with most unequal income distribution are also located in Africa.
Persistent inequality is a global phenomenon, not limited to Africa alone.
It calls for our special attention
because it undermines both sustainability and potential for growth.
This is why the Korean government,
since the launch of the new administration,
has begun to shift its economic policy paradigm
to focus more on the ‘people.’
To this end, Korea made it a policy priority to develop
human capital, reinforce social safety net and enhance social mobility.
With the Fourth Industrial Revolution, especially,
the difference in accessibility to ICT and other technologies
can widen the economic disparity among classes.
It is, therefore, important to enhance inclusiveness by making sure
that everyone in the region can utilize advanced technologies.
Kenya’s M-Pesa is a telling example of financial inclusion.
With its mobile money transfer service,
many Africans in remote areas now have access to banking services.
In this sense, it was a move in the right direction for the African Union
to adopt people-driven development
as one of the 7 objectives in its Agenda 2063
to support women, children and youth.
Third, Smart Infrastructure through Korea-Africa Partnership.
Let me now talk about a promising area
where Korea can contribute to the development of African countries,
which is smart infrastructure.
Smart infrastructure can provide a new solution
to Africa’s shortage in roads, airports and harbors.
It allows optimal use of resources
and can even replace traditional infrastructure.
Africa is already producing substantial outcomes in this area.
The world’s first drone-port will be built in Rwanda
to deliver basic necessities to people in need.
In Tanzania, 200,000 farmers, who adopted smart farm technology,
saw a 30% increase in their rice production.
Korea has joined the efforts of Africa since 2006
in building smart infrastructure
through development financing and knowledge sharing.
For instance, Korea financed
a railroad electronic interlocking system (EIS) in Egypt,
and supported Kenya’s intelligent public transportation system
through the Knowledge Sharing Program.
Going forward, Korea is strongly committed
to share its rich expertise and experience as Africa’s close partner.
And I hope that various programs during this week will facilitate
smart infrastructure cooperation between Korea and Africa.
Friendship between Korea and Africa
The relationship between Korea and Africa goes back a long way.
The map on the screen was drawn by Korea 600 years ago.
It’s called Gangnido.
It’s astonishing and almost hard to believe
that Korea included the African continent in the world map,
about a hundred years before the Europeans did.
Although it’s not in perfect scale,
you can see that it includes Africa, Europe and India.
It even marks specific places,
such as the Nile, the Sahara, and Anfa,
which is the original name for Casablanca in Morocco.
I would like to now shift our attention to Busan,
the host city of this year’s event,
particularly because this city has had a special relationship with Africa.
In 1951 during the Korean War,
the imperial troops from Ethiopia,
called the Kagnew battalion,
arrived here in Busan to join the United Nations forces.
At that time, South Korea had retreated
all the way back to Busan,
where many refugees were suffering from extreme poverty.
The African allies,
including Ethiopia and South Africa,
helped set the stage for Korea’s development
out of the ashes of the Korean War.
I am proud to say
that Busan has now developed into Korea’s second largest city
with one of the world’s busiest ports.
The city’s slogan, “Dynamic Busan,”
embodies this active development and enterprising spirit,
which are in line with Africa’s aspiration for growth.
I am sure that valuable insights shared during the Meetings
will help us take a step closer to this goal.
Honourable Edouard Ngirente,
Prime Minister of Rwanda,
Honourable Saad Dine El Otmani,
Prime Minister of Morocco,
President Akinwumi Adesina
of the African Development Bank,
President Jim Yong Kim of the World Bank,
representatives from international organizations,
and distinguished guests,
Thank you again for coming all the way to Korea
for this year’s Annual Meetings.
I would also like to thank the African Development Bank
and Busan city for organizing this wonderful event with us.
And while you must have busy schedule during the meetings,
I hope you will take some time
to experience Busan and Korea’s hospitality.
One of my personal recommendations is to visit Haeundae Beach,
which is not only one of the most beautiful tourist spots in the country,
but also where you can feel the energetic spirit of the youth.
It’s just in walking distance from your hotel.
Once again, welcome to Korea
and I hope this year’s meetings are fruitful and enjoyable.