Turkey reaffirms its commitment to Africa
By Timo Shihepo
Windhoek – The Turkish government has reaffirmed its commitment to the African continent through economic and political partnerships.
The European country also wants to advance on an economic cooperation model with Africa that is based on a “win-win” scenario rather than a zero sum game that produces winners and losers.
Trade between Turkey and Africa is experiencing rapid growth and has reached U$16,8 billion in 2016. This figure shows that commerce with Africa has increased fourfold in comparison to its 2003 trade indicators.
Turkey has been struggling to penetrate the African market because it’s not a member of the European Union.
“We are also seeking to contribute to the implementation of African Union’s Agenda 2063 blueprint for economic development by organizing thematic ministerial meetings on areas such as business and agriculture in conjunction with forums that bring together Turkish and African businessmen,”Turkey’s minister of foreign affairs, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said through the Turkish Embassy to Namibia.
While working to advance its bilateral ties with African countries, Turkey is also establishing a sound cooperation mechanism with the African Union.
The Turkish-African relations boomed from 2008 when the African Union declared Turkey as a strategic partner, and the first ever Turkey-Africa Cooperation Summit was held in Istanbul.
The summit initiated a steady and sustainable collaboration process leading to the second Turkey – Africa Cooperation Summit held in Equatorial Guinea in 2014. A third summit is scheduled to take place in Istanbul in 2019.
Çavuşoğlu said along with the strengthening and diversification of bilateral relations with African countries as well as institutional ties with the African Union, Turkey recently decided to rename its “Opening Policy to Africa” by a more befiting concept, namely “Turkey’s Africa Partnership Policy”.
Çavuşoğlu added that he wishes to underscore the resoluteness of Turkey’s political will to work with Africa. He said Turkey’s determination is reflected through the strong interest of President Recep Erdoğan who attaches utmost importance to Africa.
Over the last decade as first Prime Minister and then as President, Erdoğan has paid more than 30 visits to 23 African countries in total – a record number of visits for a non-African leader. The country also hosted numerous Heads of State from African countries in 2016.
The visits of the Heads of State of Ethiopia, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Somalia to Turkey in the first half of the current year continued to provide visibility at home and abroad to their African policy, according to Çavuşoğlu.
“He not only visits African nations and receives their leaders in Turkey but also encourages businesses, universities, NGOs, research centers and ordinary citizens to engage in mutually empowering relations. He builds mutual trust, confidence and benefit for all so that all issues are addressed in an open and candid manner,” he said.
Çavuşoğlu added that Africa is undergoing immense change with positive transformation fuelled by the hard work, resilience and perseverance of Africans young and old who are determined to turn the page of poverty. He said they have every reason to believe that Africa’s future looks promising.
“In fact, we can see the positive momentum reflected through reduced geopolitical risks, sustained stability, economic growth, expanding trade, enhanced welfare and better living conditions across the Continent. Challenges to peace and security still exist. But they can certainly be overcome.”