Former President John Dramani Mahama has advocated stronger ties between the Republic of Korea, Ghana and the rest of Africa for mutual socio-economic benefits and development.
He said the two entities shared the adversity of colonisation, and in Africa’s case the scourge of slavery, while in Korea’s case, a total ruin from the destruction of war.
“The desire to build a prosperous life for our citizens creates a shared partnership forged on mutually beneficial arrangements and respect. A partnership must be warmly embraced and developed within enhanced trade and economic exchange,” he said.
He said this when he gave a keynote address at the Korea-Africa Business Summit held in Seoul recently.
Mr Mahama, who is also the 2024 flagbearer of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) stated that Africa, being the young continent, had an educated youthful population that was eager to acquire new skills to enter the world of work.
He said Africa needed to double its job creation capacity to keep up with the growing youth bulge by accelerating the growth of African economies through diversification of products from just the export of primary products to value addition for exports.
He said forging a partnership with Korea would allow young Africans to benefit from a transfer of knowledge and technology that harnessed their vast talents and creativity for growth
“Ghana has had a history of Korean investments in Ghana. Early investors like the well-known Bok Nam-Kim made significant investments in fisheries and agribusiness.
With the recent opening of a KIA vehicle assembly plant, I can see new beginnings. ,” he explained.
He therefore urged Koreans to look at areas such as FinTech and services (and App development), food production and agri-business, natural resources, cargo haulage and shipping, energy, among others, where Ghana had the comparative advantage for the benefit of both nations.
“Perhaps the most profound agent for Africa’s transformation is the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). The AfCFTA creates a potential market of 1.3 billion people. This will make it possible to produce in one African country and export products to other countries,” the former president added.
However, to optimise opportunities under the AfCTFA, Mr Mahama said, it would be necessary for Africa to improve its cross-border infrastructure, such as roads, bridges, railways, aviation and ports which could be done on a Built- Operate- Transfer (BOT) basis and would greatly catapult the growth of Africa’s economy.
“Korea can help us nudge our young innovators and entrepreneurs to realise their dreams and extricate themselves from the unemployment trap. There are many who, despite the lamentable situation, come through with impressive achievements and that point to untapped potential waiting to be unleashed,” he said.
He therefore urged African leaders to engage Korea from all angles to offer hope to the youth by having them learn from the shining examples that the Korean turn-around story provided.