Korea among investors Kenya seeks to woo ahead of summit


Chung Byung-Won (right), the Korean Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs in charge of African Affairs, addresses a group of African journalists in Seoul at his office in Seoul, South Korea on April 24, 2024. PHOTO | NMG

Kenya has broken ahead of the pack in the scramble for Korean investors by marketing herself as a top investment destination, as it seeks new source markets as part of its diversification and to cut overreliance on its traditional markets.

Kenya’s Ambassador to Korea Emmy Kipsoi told an investment conference on Friday that the country is the most stable democracy in East Africa founded on the rule of law which provides a predictable and safe environment for investments.

“On a pure dollar basis, Kenya receives more venture capital than any other country on the continent, dramatically outperforming other leading countries, including Nigeria, Egypt, and South Africa, when scaled to their respective gross domestic products,” she said at a pre-summit conference held in Seoul last week ahead of the Korea-Africa Summit.

Kenya is already a hub for several Korean companies like Samsung Electronics, Hyundai, Daewoo and Korea Telecom. Nairobi, however, wants to use the summit to ramp up more foreign direct investments from Seoul.

South Korea has been making forays into Africa with increased investments as the East Asian nations seek to diversify supply chains, expand in new markets, and enhance Seoul’s soft power.

In Kenya, South Korean presence has not only been felt through its electronic appliances such as Samsung or LG, but also through music and movies. A press release from Spotify; a music streaming app, shows that Kenya was second after South Africa as the top market for K-pop in Sub-Saharan Africa.

K-pop, or Korean pop, can feature a range of musical styles, including Pop, Hip Hop, R&B, Rock, Jazz, Reggae, Disco, and even traditional and folk Korean musical stylings.

The inaugural Korea-Africa Summit is scheduled to take place on June 4 and 5 and brings together leaders from the 54 African States as the continent seeks new partners beyond the China-US dilemma. The popularity of K-pop shows the reach of South Korea’s soft power in Africa, a continent that has been shaped largely by its colonial Western culture including language, music, education, and even dressing.

The summit will offer Korean investors the opportunity to explore market entry strategies into Africa and enhance their understanding of cooperation measures, particularly in light of the full implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement.

The pre-summit conference, which showcased Kenya’s potential to Korean investors, was organised by Seoul law firm Jipyong LLC and Nairobi-based legal firm G&A Advocates LLP.

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