The Republic of Korea has earned global acclaim for its rapid economic transformation from an impoverished country to becoming one of the world’s industrial powerhouses and a major player in international humanitarian arena.
Even then, the government of President Yoon Suk-Yeol, the current President of the Republic of Korea believes that the Asian country should do more to lift more developing countries. Afterall, lighting someone else’s candle does not diminish yours, the English would say.
President Yoon stressed this point the other day while addressing fellow leaders at the recent United Nations General Assembly in New York.
He called on wealthy nations to share their advanced technologies and innovations with developing countries, especially when it comes to closing the education gap and fighting infectious diseases.
“In the era of digital sophistication, one of the most urgent tasks for the global community and the U.N. is promoting global cooperation to narrow the digital divide which exacerbates polarization between nations,” Yoon told leaders who gathered in New York for the U.N. General Assembly last month.
During events to commemorate Korea’s National Foundation Day and Armed Forces Day, held at Sheraton Hotel Kampala, Ambassador Park Sung Soo, the Ambassador of the Republic of Korea in Uganda reiterated his government’s commitment to strengthening ties with Uganda and the rest of Africa.
Ambassador Park reminded hundreds of guests who turned for a sumptuous evening reception, that previous administrations of his country have emphasized technological transfer with Uganda in a number of fields including aviation, agriculture, education and road transport.
Indeed, the government of the Republic of Korea supports students exchange programs where Ugandans are given fully-paid up scholarships in Korean universities to study disciplines such as agricultural development.
Recently, through its Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) the government of the Republic of Korea offered to provide manuals to guide Ugandan engineers, particularly those working at UNRA, to be used in implementing the 50-year Expressway (roads) master plan.
Also, the government of the Republic of Korea has supported Uganda’s National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO) to gain access to improved seed in a number of agricultural enterprises.
For example, through its Korea Program for International Agriculture (KOPIA) Korea is supporting a number of initiatives aimed at increasing farmers’ incomes as well as boost their nutrition. These include the production of (Irish) Potato seed, citrus growing as well as promotion of vegetable production.
In pursuit of stronger ties with Africa, Ambassador Park revealed that his government is planning to hold the first-ever Korea-Africa Summit scheduled for the second half of 2024.
He said: “The Summit, I am sure will create vigorous momentum that will open a new chapter in the history of Korea-Africa relations. I believe that Uganda will be part of this wonderful history-making event.”
Relatedly, in another attempt to expose Korean businesses to opportunities in Uganda, the Embassy of the Republic of Korea, was one of the very few diplomatic missions that participated in this year’s Annual International Trade Fair held at the UMA show grounds in Lugogo, Kampala.
Ambassador Park told The Sunrise in an exclusive interview that his embassy participated in the show so as to interest local companies to establish business ties with theri counterparts in Korea.
“I am sure some Korean companies would be interested in expanding to Africa and to Uganda. The challenge is that most of them don’t know much about Uganda. So I want to invite more Ugandans to visit Korea to experience out economic development experience but also forge ties with Koreans. So our exchanges should be more about trade and investment and less about disaster and humanitarian assistance.”
In the same spirit of boosting exchanges, Ambassador Park revealed that his embassy will soon open visa-free travel to Korea for Ugandans with diplomatic and official passports. He said the process will be opened up with the rest of the population gradually.
During the National Foundation Day celebrations, Uganda’s State Minister for International Affairs Henry Okello Oryem, praised Korea for her support to Uganda in the development field as well as for humanitarian affairs.
Okello highlighted Korea’s multi-billion programme to support farmers from Elgon region to boost dairy farming by growing high-yielding pastures.