By Lee Kyung-sik with Editor Cho Kyung-hee, Reporter Kang Su-mok
Ambassador Carlos Victor Boungou of the Gabonese Republic in Seoul said, “Africa is a vibrant continent with a young population. In a global environment marred by economic difficulties and uncertainties, Africa is doing reasonably well. Taken individually the prospects are even brighter with many African countries reaching some of the highest economic growth rates on the planet. The Republic of Korea can seize the opportunities offered by the new African business environment.”
Concurrently dean of the ambassadors of the African countries in Seoul, Ambassador Boungou made the remarks in a speech he delivered at the Africa Day reception hosted by the ambassadors of the member countries of the African Group of Ambassadors at the Lotte Hotel in Seoul on June 12, 2019.
The spacious main Chrystal Ballroom of the Lotte Hotel in Seoul was literally filled to the brims with important guests from all segments of Korean society as well as from the Seoul Diplomatic Corps and various international communities.
Among the distinguished guests in presence were First Vice Minister Cho Sei-Young of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Vice Speaker Lee Ju-Young of the National Assembly (president of the National Assembly’s Forum for Africa’s New Era) and Ambassador Choi Yeon-Ho who headed the Korea-Africa Foundation.
There were an unsually large number of ambassadors and other senior diplomats attending the receptio with their spouses, who included Ambassadors Ambassadors Luis pablo Ossio Bustillos of Bolivia, Luis Henrique Sobreira Lopes of Brazil, Sylvestre Kouassi Bile of Cote d'lvoire, Hazem M. Fahmy of Egypt, Shiferaw Shigutie Wolassa of Ethiopia, Chafik Rachadi of Morocco, Amin Muhammad Dalhatu of Nigeria, Emma-Francoise Isumbingabo of Rwanda, Kathos Jibao Mattai of Sierra Leone, Mohamed Gello of Kenya, Mamadou Gueye-Faye of Senegal, Jogath Abeywarna of Sri Lanka, Elrayih M.Hydoub of sudan, Matilda Swilla Masuka of Tanzamia, Abdul Hakim Atarud of Afghanistan, Bruno Figueroa of Mexico of Mexico, Manuel Antonio Goncalves De Jesus of Portugal, Philip Anthony Turner of New Zealand, Kylychbek Sultan of Kyrgyzstan.
It was a truly impressive reception where the main features of each member country of the African Group of Ambassadors was intrdouced through the mediam of vidieo prewsentation, of which two large screens were presented to introduce the special features of each country. They give a glymps into the important factors, especially the tourist attractions, which were greatly helpful for the Korean and international guests to gain knowledge of the African countries.
Among other Korean guests in attendance at the party were representatives of various segments of Korean society, including the mass communications media, where there were representatives from various media organizations, including publisher-chairman Lee Kyung-sik of The Korea Post, publisher of five Korean and English media outlets, including www.koreapost.com (English) and www.koreapost.co.kr (Korean).
Excerpts from the speech of Ambassador Boungou of Gabon:
It is indeed a great honor and a privilege to welcome you all tonight on behalf of the African Group of Ambassadors on this meaningful occasion of the celebration of Africa Day 2019.
Let me begin by presenting the condolences of the African Diplomatic Community to the Korean Government following the Ferry disaster in Budapest, Hungary, on May 29, 2019 that claimed innocent Koreans lives, and the passing of Madam Lee Hee-ho, the former First Lady of the Republic of Korea, who died twe days ago on June 10.
I am pleased to recognize at today’s event our guest of honor, His Excellency Cho Sei-Young, the 1st Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, representing the Government of the Republic of Korea.
I am also privileged to acknowledge the presence of the Honorable Lee Ju-Young, Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly, and President of the Forum for Africa’s New Era.
A warm welcome to other officials and dignitaries here present.
The celebration of Africa Day on 25 May each year, marks the recognition of the dream of pan-Africanism, a dream for a united and integrated Africa brought to life by the founding fathers in 1963, and reflected in the vision of the African Union’s landmark Agenda 2063: “An integrated, prosperous, and peaceful Africa driven by its citizens, representing a dynamic force in the global arena”.
Together with the Korea-Africa Foundation the African Group of Ambassadors have chosen to give this Event a bigger dimension with the celebration of Africa Week from 12 to 15 June 2019.
I seize the present opportunity to express our gratitude to Mr. Choi Yeon-Ho, President of the Korea-Africa Foundation for their invaluable contribution to the promotion of the African continent in Korea.
The African Union (AU) has declared 2019 the “Year of Refugees, Returnees and internally Displaced Persons: Towards Durable Solutions to Forced Displacement in Africa”.
The launch of this theme comes at a time when forced displacement remains a major issue confronting the African continent.
According to the United Nations, more than a third of the world’s forcibly displaced people are in Africa, including 6.3 million refugees and asylum-seekers and 14.5 million internally displaced persons.
His Excellency Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, the President of Egypt and new Chairman of the African Union, has called for a focusing of efforts to solve the problem of refugees, internally displaced persons and migrants in a comprehensive manner along with post construction and development plans and programmes.
The AU theme also coincides with the growing recognition of the humanitarian and development nexus, and the need for greater collaboration and coherent support by all stakeholders.
The focus on forcibly displaced comes at a particularly appropriate time. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the 1969 Organization of African Unity (AU) Convention on Refugees and the 10th anniversary of the 2009 AU Convention on internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Africa, the so-called Kampala Convention.
On the occasion of its Summit Meeting in February 2019, the African Union adopted a number of key decisions in conformity with the provisions of Agenda 2063. These decisions include the establishment of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), the institutional reform of the African Union, the question of peace and security, and the State of governance in Africa.
The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) aims the creation of the largest common market in the world since the creation of the World Trade Organization (WTO). It is expected to represent a key driver to bring about the structural transformation and industrialization of Africa. The next African Union Summit on 7 July in the Republic of Niger will launch the first operational phase of the Continental Free Trade Area.
This flagship project is implemented at a time when Africa is regarded as the engine for the future economic prosperity of the world, a land of opportunities.
Africa is indeed a vibrant continent with a young population. In a global environment marred by economic difficulties and uncertainties, Africa is doing reasonably well. Taken individually the prospects are even brighter with many African countries reaching some of the highest economic growth rates on the planet.
The Republic of Korea can seize the opportunities offered by the new African business environment.
I avail myself of the present occasion to acknowledge the various efforts of the Korean Government to reinforce the Korea-Africa strategic partnership since the announcement of Korea’s initiative for Africa’s development in 2006.
These efforts include Korea’s official development assistance (ODA) whose scale and scope have significantly expanded in recent years; the impact of the Korea-Africa Ministerial Economic Conference (Koafec), the Korea-Africa Industry Cooperation Forum (Koafic), the remarkable contribution of the National Assembly’s Forum for Africa’s New Era launched in September 2013 to enhance understanding on Africa and suggest new solutions for doing business with African countries, and last but not least the pivotal role played by the Korea-Africa Foundation in deepening our strategic partnership.
This is also the occasion to reiterate the support of African countries to the efforts of the Korean Government towards the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.
Following the success of the 3 inter-Korean Summits we look forward to the intensification of the peace momentum on the Korean peninsula that will contribute to global peace.
To conclude, on behalf of the African Group of Ambassadors I thank you all for taking time out of your busy schedules to be with us this evening.