South Korea’s Engagement with Africa

Following the end of the Korean War in 1953, South Korea prioritised its alliance with the United States in pursuit of economic growth and military security. It took more than a decade since the end of the war until South Korea essentially inaugurated diplomatic relations with African states. The early years of its diplomacy in Africa focused on securing formal support from African nations for South Korea’s entry to the United Nations.
However, Korea’s interest in Africa remained low during the Cold War. North Korea was years ahead forging diplomatic links with Soviet-supported African countries when South Korea began to intensify its approach on the continent. South Korea had maintained a one-Korea policy, which prevented African countries from having simultaneous diplomatic relations with the two Koreas. In face of the limitations this policy imposed, South Korea abandoned the strategy in 1973.

Japan’s Engagement with Africa

In modern times, Japanese and African relations can be traced back to the 1960s when Japan started its Official Development Assistance (ODA) program to Sub-Saharan Africa with the aim of promoting economic development and welfare. The oil crisis in the 1970s made Japan shift its strategy in Africa by developing stronger links with a wider range of nations but keeping a focus on oil exporter countries such as Nigeria.
With the end of the Cold War and collapse of Soviet-sponsored states in Africa, Japan’s interest in locating strategic partners in the continent only grew. Its strategy remained fairly unchanged though, as Japan continued to use foreign aid and loans as a driver of foreign policy in Africa. From 1991 to 1997, Japan had ranked top amongst the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) peers and became a leading donor for several states in Africa.