BUSAN, May 23, 2018 – Today, the World Bank and the Government of Korea reinforced their ongoing partnership to support Sub-Saharan Africa’s universities and research institutions in growing highly qualified local talent in areas important for Africa’s transformation, such as renewable energy, big data, artificial intelligence, and engineering.
“Investments in human capital have the power to transform the economic trajectory of nations and will be particularly powerful in Africa, which has the youngest population in the world. The Korea-Africa initiative aims to propel ongoing efforts by African governments to build a stronger homegrown workforce in the science and technology fields – a valuable asset in the face of rapidly evolving labor markets,” said Annette Dixon, Vice President for Human Development at the World Bank.
The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between the World Bank and Korea on the margins of the African Development Bank Annual Meetings. Under the MoU, the Government of Korea will set up a $10 million trust fund at the World Bank to support the Regional Scholarship and Innovation Fund (RSIF).
“This partnership between Korea and the World Bank towards the Africa region will establish a new milestone of tripartite cooperation, helping Africa build human capital and capacity in science and technology, while also contributing to the innovative growth of African countries by setting the foundation for Africa’s industrialization,” said Ko Hyoung-kwon, First Vice Minister of Strategy and Finance, Republic of Korea.
Specific initiatives envisioned for the program include:
- Scholarship and research support to students and university faculty working on relevant transformative technologies across Sub-Saharan Africa;
- Funding of “sandwich” PhD training programs (programs incorporating international and home-based study) for scholars from African universities; and
- Collaborative research between faculty in Sub-Saharan Africa universities and Korean universities in priority areas such as information and communication technology, solar energy, energy storage, and engineering with a focus on the innovative growth sectors.
Ministers of Finance from four countries that have taken the lead in seeding the RSIF – Rwanda, Ethiopia, Kenya and Cote d’Ivoire – attended the MoU signing ceremony.
The Partnership for skills in Applied Sciences, Engineering and Technology (PASET) was launched in 2013 in recognition of the critical need to strengthen science, and technology capability for the socio-economic development of Sub-Saharan Africa. The Partnership functions as a convening platform by bringing together African governments and the private sector as well as new partner countries who have been investing heavily in Africa. To learn more, visit www.worldbank.org/paset.
The Regional Scholarship and Innovation Fund (RSIF) was established in 2015 by African governments to help create a highly skilled, technical-scientific labor force to meet the national development agenda and accelerate Sub-Saharan Africa’s socio-economic transformation. The RSIF aims to create a strong pipeline of researchers in applied sciences, engineering and technology fields who can engage with development challenges and foster greater collaboration between African universities and local and foreign industries. The scholarship program has been designed considering best practices of international programs with technical assistance financed by the World Bank. The five countries that have taken the lead – Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda and Senegal – and several other sub-Saharan African countries have expressed strong interest in contributing to the initiative. The initiative, as part of PASET, is facilitated by the World Bank.