Press Review CW 23/2024: Searching for a partner
Press Review 31 May 2024 to 7 June 2024

Africa – Korea Summit

The first Korea-Africa Summit was held in South Korea’s capital Seoul from Tuesday to Wednesday under the motto ‘The Future We Make Together: Shared Growth, Sustainability, and Solidarity’. The summit was attended by South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol and delegations from 48 African countries, including 25 heads of state and government as well as representatives of international organisations. Suk Yeol announced his intention to double South Korea’s development funds for African countries to 10 billion US dollars by 2030. The government also pledged 14 billion US dollars in export financing to South Korean companies wishing to enter the African market. A total of 47 agreements were concluded at the summit in the areas of mining, energy and industry, among others.

Tanzania signed a deal for a 2.5 billion dollar concessionary loan, which will be used primarily for the development of health infrastructure in Zanzibar; in return, Tanzania will grant South Korean companies access to minerals in the country. In view of this, Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan declared that Tanzania is inviting South Korean companies to enter into further partnerships in the exploration, extraction and utilisation of important minerals. South Korea also pledged one billion US dollars to Ethiopia for the expansion of infrastructure, the science, technology and health sectors as well as urban development. In addition, four more African countries – Angola, Madagascar, Malawi and Zimbabwe – joined the Korean Rice Belt, also known as the K-Belt. The development initiative, which was launched last year, aims to help improve food security in Africa. To this end, Korean rice varieties are cultivated in African countries that provide public land and also, farmers are trained in specialised rice cultivation. Co-operations have also been agreed upon between South Korean companies and individual African countries. For example, the South Korean conglomerate Hyosung Corp signed a contract for the delivery of electrical transformers to Mozambique worth 30 million US dollars. In general, there was a strong focus on critical minerals, which is why it was jointly decided to introduce a ‘Critical Mineral Dialogue’.

The African continent is playing an increasingly important role for South Korea’s economy. South Korea’s semiconductor industry and other areas of the technology industry are heavily dependent on minerals, most of which are found in African countries. So far, however, the bilateral trade volume between South Korea and the African continent is only 20.45 billion US dollars, which corresponds to around 2% of South Korea’s total foreign trade. According to analysts, the summit also serves to expand South Korea’s soft power in Africa, which is based on strategic and security policy considerations, particularly with regard to neighbouring North Korea. Accordingly, South Korea is expanding its partnerships with the African continent, which currently occupies three non-permanent seats on the UN Security Council, in order to counter North Korea’s influence in Africa and position itself more strongly on the international stage. In his speech, President Suk Yeol called on African countries to take energetic steps in international efforts to exert pressure on North Korea.

The endeavours to establish a far-reaching partnership between South Korea and African countries date back to 2006. Under South Korea’s then President Roh Moo-hyun, the Ministerial Conference on Economic Cooperation between South Korea and Africa, Koafec, was launched. The seventh conference was held last year, at which South Korea pledged to provide Africa with funding totalling USD 6 billion over a two-year period to support the implementation of projects in the areas of energy transition, agriculture and education. However, the Korea-Africa Summit that has now been convened is intended to represent a new quality of cooperation, both at the political level and in terms of concrete results.

Elections in South Africa

On Thursday evening, South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that the African National Congress (ANC) was seeking a government of national unity and inviting the other parties to join the multi-party alliance. The ANC had previously recorded its worst ever election result in the national elections last Wednesday with 40.18%. Compared to the last election in 2019, the party, which has been in power since the end of apartheid in 1994, lost 17 percentage points and its absolute majority in parliament for the first time. In future, the ANC will only occupy 159 of the 400 seats in parliament – compared to 230 during the last legislative period – but will still remain the strongest force. A total of 52 parties contested the elections, 17 will be represented in the new parliament. Following the ANC, the most successful parties were the Democratic Alliance (DA), which received 21.81% and 87 seats, the newly founded uMkhonto we Sizwe (MK) party with 14.58% and 58 seats and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) with 9.52% and 39 seats. Voter turnout was 58.64%, but only 64% of the 42.3 million eligible voters had registered to vote. Accordingly, only around 38% of the eligible electorate took part in the vote. The official election results were announced on Sunday by South Africa’s Electoral Commission (IEC).


The ANC, whose votes in parliament are no longer sufficient to form a sole government and re-elect President Cyril Ramaphosa for a second term, began exploratory talks on Monday. That is because South Africa’s laws stipulate a strict time frame: 14 days after the official announcement of the election results, the new parliament must convene for its constituent session and elect a president. After days of speculation about possible coalition constellations, the ANC is now aiming for a broad majority alliance in the national interest, as Ramaphosa emphasises. Analysts, however, see the move as being more in the ANC’s interests. For example, a broad coalition comprising several parties would reduce the ANC’s dependence on individual political rivals, as would be the case with a coalition agreement with its direct main rivals, the business orientated and right-wing DA or the radical left-wing EFF. Previously, there had also been speculation about an alliance with the MK, which was supported by Ramaphosa’s predecessor and former ANC president Jacob Zuma. However, MK had made Ramaphosa’s resignation a condition for a coalition, which also represented a hurdle for MK’s participation in the unity government. In addition, the DA had already signalled on Wednesday that it would not participate in a government that included the EFF or the MK. An alternative to a unity or coalition government is a minority government of the ANC. However, this would have to secure the support of other parties in important votes in return for political concessions.

At provincial level, the ANC was able to secure a majority of over 50% in five of the nine provinces, particularly in the rural regions in the North of the country. In the Northern Cape, however, the ANC fell just short of an absolute majority with 49%; in Gauteng, the economic and financial centre of the country, the ANC achieved 36%. Meanwhile, with 53% of the vote, the DA was once again able to secure the Western Cape province, where it has ruled since 2009. The MK achieved its strongest election result in KwaZulu-Natal, where it won 46% of the vote. Nevertheless, these results mean that the ANC will remain the strongest force in the second chamber of parliament, the so-called Upper House, which is made up of 10 delegates per province, whereby the party representation within the respective delegation must be proportional to the representation of the parties in the provincial legislature. The Upper House plays a central role in the legislative process and can scrutinise, amend, propose or reject laws.

The elections centred on the issues of stagnating economic growth, high unemployment rates – estimated at around 45.5% among 15-34-year-olds – persistent power blackouts and loadshedding, a lack of access to clean water, particularly in rural areas, high crime rates and rising poverty, which have led to dissatisfaction and disenchantment with politics among the population. Most recently, there have been numerous scandals and allegations of corruption against leading ANC politicians. The new government will have to face all of these challenges once it is formed.

In other news

The two Ghanaians Afronita and Abigail came in third in the British talent show Britain’s Got Talent on Sunday. With captivating choreographies, dressed in the colours of Ghana, the dance duo wowed not only the judges but also the audience throughout the competition, representing Ghana and the African continent on the world stage. The audience was also moved by the uniquel story of the two dancers. Abigail Adjiri was born deaf and only recently received a hearing aid that enables her to hear some sounds in her left ear. Although Afronita, whose real name is Danita Yeboah, does not understand sign language, the two felt a deep connection when they first met and Afronita became Abigail’s mentor. The 20-year-old and the seven-year-old communicate primarily through dance – through body movements and gestures. The duo is a role model for overcoming language barriers and symbolises the power and resilience of dance.

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