South Korea's top economic policymaker said Tuesday that Africa can greatly benefit from changes being brought on by the fourth industrial revolution.
|Finance Miniter Kim Dong-yeon (Yonhap)|
In a gathering of the Korea-Africa Economic Cooperation (KOAFEC) meeting on the sidelines of the weeklong annual African Development Bank (AfDB) gathering in Busan, Finance Minister Kim Dong-yeon said that while the continent may not have traditional industrial foundations, a bold adoption of the latest technological changes could transform the region into a cradle of smart infrastructure.
The fourth revolution refers to a new innovative digital economy backed up by progress in the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence, autonomous machines and big data. The fusing of such industrial sectors is expected to lead to the creation of new economic and social systems and generate growth across the globe.
"I have faith that Africa can achieve inclusive growth," the official who doubles as Seoul's deputy prime minister for economic affairs said in Busan, South Korea's No. 1 port city, 450 kilometers southeast of Seoul. He said KOAFEC provides various projects to lay the basis for customized support between South Korea an Africa.
He then warned that those who stick to old methods may be doomed to never find a path to innovative growth, while people who may fear they are lost after taking bold steps will eventually find new ways to growth.
The official then said South Korea and Africa have no historic baggage to contend with and because of this can approach each other without reservations.
The minister said Asia's fourth largest economy views the fourth revolution as a great opportunity and is committed to building up competitiveness in AI, IoT and other areas that are sure to bolster productivity in manufacturing and create new value-added industries. He said the country is willing to share what it learns with others.
Also, the South Korean government said it will create a US$5 billion financial cooperation package to help African countries industrialize in the next two years.
Through the fund, the two sides will join forces to expand infrastructure, foster manpower, develop rural areas and deal with climate change in the region as part of efforts to share South Korea's past experience of economic development. South Korea is the only country in the world to have made the switch from being a recipient of aid to being a donor.
"We will support African countries to increase their capability for economic development through South Korea's economic experience and technology in infrastructure building," said Kim, the finance minister.
Started in 2006, the biennial KOAFEC meeting is aimed at sharing South Korea's experience on economic development and enhancing cooperation in resource development.
At this year's gathering, 54 senior official from Africa will be in Busan along with 30 CEOs to exchange views with their South Korean counterparts. (Yonhap)