Geopolitics, defence imports, security and the region’s oil and gas findings were at the centre of last week’s visits to the region by the presidents of South Korea and Turkey, and the United Kingdom’s foreign affairs minister.
Uganda was the greatest beneficiary: The country signed defence agreements with South Korea and Turkey.
South Korean President Park Geun-hye was on a diplomatic charm offensive in a bid to win over Uganda and Ethiopia into military co-operation. She was also seeking to deflate North Korea’s arms business and military co-operation with the region; North Korea has relied on the business for foreign currency.
Just two days after President Park’s visit, Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited Kampala, Nairobi and Mogadishu, where trade and defence agreements were signed.
In Uganda, President Park met senior Ugandan military officers, and her Vice Defence Minister, Hwang In-moo, led defence talks with officials of Uganda and Ethiopia. The talks culminated in agreements for an exchange programme between military personnel.
“During the discussions with defence chiefs from Uganda and Ethiopia, Hwang stressed the need to increase co-operation in the military and defence sectors. Both sides explored avenues to improve the defence co-operation,” Yonhap, the South Korea news agency reported, quoting a statement from Seoul’s Defence Ministry.
Since 2013, Seoul has sold $350,000 worth of grenades, helmets, and bulletproof jackets to Uganda: Uganda’s growing defence spending was $288 million last year.
Turkey's Africa military facility
Meanwhile, Turkey is said to be eyeing a share of Uganda’s military imports. Since May, Turkish police have trained more than 80 officers from Uganda in the use of riot equipment said to have been imported from Ankara.
Turkey aims to grow its defence export earnings to $25 billion by 2013; it is among the world’s top 15 defence exporters. The country is renowned for the manufacture of helicopter engines, armoured land vehicles, rockets and missiles, light weapons and defence software.
It is understood that Turkey is planning to open its first military facility in Africa later this year, to be hosted in Somalia. President Erdogan appraised the leaders of Uganda, Kenya and Ethiopia on its intention to train their respective Amisom contributing troop contingents and regional police forces.
Uganda has halted military co-operation with North Korea — the country had sent military trainers to Uganda for many years. This is seen as a diplomatic win for Seoul, which is expected to provide Kampala with military technology, training and arms sale contracts.
Uganda’s Foreign Minister Sam Kutesa announced that the military relationship with North Korea, which dates back to 2007, has come to an end. According to a UN report, Uganda has been purchasing small arms and ammunition from North Korea.
“We are disengaging the co-operation we have with North Korea as a result of UN sanctions. The president has already issued directives that we disengage with Pyongyang on police and other military engagements,” Mr Kutesa said.
In Ethiopia, Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn assured President Park of the country’s commitment to enforcing the UN sanctions that were imposed on North Korea in March over its fourth nuclear test and long-range rocket launch in January. South Korea then signed a deal with Ethiopia to pursue bilateral defence co-operation.
UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond visited Addis, Nairobi and Mogadishu to discuss security matters and the refugee situation.
The UK will provide $288.5 million worth of support to Somalia, including delivering security sector reforms augmented by the deployment of up to 70 extra UK military personnel to the UN’s Support Office in Somalia (UNSOS): The office provides crucial support to the African Union Mission in Somalia.
Somalia is of interest to investors after the country announced that it may begin production of oil and gas in 2020. Last year, Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud announced that his country is in discussions with British firm BP Plc and other firms on oil and gas exploration.
Ethiopia is looking to Seoul for financial and technological support for its urban development projects. Ethiopia’s Ministry of Urban Development and Housing, and South Korea’s Land and Housing Corporation signed a memorandum of understanding.
Ethiopia’s Urban Development Minister Mekuria Haile said the agreement will allow the country to receive practical and technical support in creating a smart city through effective land management.
“Through this agreement, we want to make a difference in the $3 billion, 42 urban development projects,” Mr Haile said.
In Uganda, 27 South Korean companies signed deals worth more than $3.1 million with local firms. Last year,15 per cent of Uganda’s exports went to South Korea.
Kenya and South Korea signed agreements for Kenya to receive financial and technical assistance to set up a college modelled after the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), with the assistance of South Korea’s Economic Development Co-operation Fund.
“These agreements will lay the groundwork for full co-operation in ICT between us. There are opportunities for our firms here and also for the African countries to benefit from our technology and expertise,” said Choi Yang-hee, South Korea’s Minister of Science, ICT and Future Planning.
Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta said the government supports the establishment of a Kenya Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) at Konza Techno City.
The MoU was signed by Kenya’s Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i and Konza Technopolis Development Authority chief executive John Tanui, and officials of the Export-Import Bank of Korea, which will provide the funds to establish the institute, expected to cost $100 million.
Kenya signed six other agreements with South Korea: In one of the deals, the Korea Export-Import Bank will advance $50 million to the agricultural sector.
|$50 million for agriculture
$100 million investment in Konza City under ICT
Industry, trade, investment and industrial complex development
Policy consultation (foreign affairs)
Health care and medical science
Energy (industry and plant construction)
Science and technology
Community credit cooperatives
Agriculture and rural development
|Mutual visa expansion for diplomatic holders
Hydrocarbon, mining and minerals
Refugee status appraisal
|Reassurances on human rights