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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.

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).

Investments in human capital

“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 industrialisation,” said Ko Hyoung-kwon, first vice minister of strategy and finance, Republic of Korea.

Annette Dixon, VP for human development at the World Bank, said: “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. Read more: Korea to share its technology with Africa

“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 labour markets.”

Specific initiatives envisioned for the programmes include:

  • Scholarship and research support to students and university faculty working on relevant transformative technologies across Sub-Saharan Africa;
  • Funding of “sandwich” PhD training programmes (programmes 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 include Rwanda, Ethiopia, Kenya and Cote d’Ivoire; attended the MoU signing ceremony.