Trade volume between South Korea and Nigeria has hit $1.1bn within the first two quarters of 2022. This indicates a 20 per cent increase compared to same periods in 2021.
South Korean Ambassador to Nigeria, Kim Young-Chae, revealed this during the first official visit of the President of the Korea Africa Foundation (KAF), Lyeon Woon-ki, to Nigeria.
LEADERSHIP reports that in the past few years, there has been a general depreciation in global trade owing to COVID-19 pandemic, including the decrease of volume of trade between Nigeria and South Korea.
But President Woon-ki said Nigeria displaced South Africa to become Korea’s largest trade partner in 2021.
This is in spite of the negative public perception of Nigeria which poses a great disadvantage, dissuading Korean businesses from investing in the Nigerian market.
“Koreans do not have a good perception of Nigeria. Most Koreans believe Nigeria is a difficult, odd place to live,” said Woon-ki, who was on the last leg of his Africa mission trip to Ghana, South Africa and Nigeria.
He, however, noted that trade volume is reviving, and will improve with his visit to Nigeria, the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA), and the Nigeria Business Forum organised by the Nigerian Embassy in Korea scheduled to hold on October 2022.
In addition, KAF also hosts the annual Korea Africa Business Forum, and the Seoul Dialogue on Africa which convenes scholars, officials and businessmen to discuss current issues relating to Africa.
“I had a good meeting with the President of NACCIMA, its senior members and senior staff. This is a good start for our business relations with Nigeria. This trip is very significant. During my interactions with Nigerians, I realized this is a big country and that there are lots of areas for potential cooperation. I hope Korea’s business and economic relations with Nigeria increases more than it is today.”
As part of efforts to boost economic relations with Africa, the foundation’s project, Startup Idea Contest aimed at encouraging young Koreans to build startup companies in Africa introduced a new dimension – the incubation of unicorn companies in Africa. Unicorns are private startups companies valued at over $1bn.
Targeted at supporting young Korean students interested in running a business in Africa, the contest, Woon-ki said accommodates African youths who work in partnership with their Korean counterparts to set up a business. Selected companies from the contest are funded and provided free business consultancy until they are fully established.
With its unicorn initiative, KAF aims to incubate unicorn companies, in particular financial and tech companies, which according to the foundation, Nigeria holds 34 percent of Africa’s fintech businesses.
“In our new project of incubating new unicorn companies, Co Creation Hub (CCHub), Lagos is one of our agencies in Nigeria to cooperate with in this area. The hub will help us incubate promising companies. The first event is underway. We are encouraging Korean unicorns to go Africa,” Woon-ki said.
Established in 2018 by the Korea Africa Foundation Act 14960, the Foundation is the first of its kind across the six continents of the world. Its objective includes the promotion of Africa and the education of Koreans about Africa; the promotion of research and trend analysis publication on Africa in Korea; the fostering of economic cooperation in both private and public sectors between Korea and Africa.
Regardless of COVID-19 restriction of the foundation’s activities online since its creation, KAF’s success story in Nigeria include the hosting of a youth camp via the Korean Embassy in Abuja to a tour of the embassy in Abuja, and to Samsung, and LG Electronics both Korean companies headquartered in Lagos.
The camp funded by the Foundation and aimed at building Africa’s future business leaders and diplomats is set for replication this year.
“We wanted to encourage the business mindset amongst young people. KAF funded their travel cost from Abuja to Lagos, and paid for their accommodation in Lagos throughout the programme. This year, we will invite young Nigerian people to the Korean embassy and the Korean companies. We will brief them on what our embassy is doing. They will also visit Lagos and have the opportunity to meet Samsung Electronics workers to understand what they do,” said Ambassador Young-chae.