Turkish Erdogan scores points in Africa | News | DW

Ivorian businessman Lilli Firmin Tre works with Turkey for a simple reason: “I chose Turkey because of the quality of its products,” he told DW. Tre heads the SIG Group, a real estate company operating in Ivory Coast, and he has had close ties in Turkey for some time.

“European quality at Asian prices”

Tre stresses that Turkey’s strength is that it largely maintains its own production. Other European countries, he says, have more Asian products. “There is a lot to learn in the construction industry, the Turks have a lot of specialist knowledge. They are good at workmanship, interior design – their color coordination is also perfect and they use good materials,” the businessman fainted. . But best of all, he adds – “They offer European quality at Asian prices.”

For their part, Turkish trading partners buy cocoa from Côte d’Ivoire, as well as shea butter, cashews and sometimes wood.

Tre says one of the few problems is communication. Turkish partners very rarely speak English and none speak French, so an interpreter is always needed.

Yet business is booming in the region. In neighboring Senegal, Moussa Mbaye is expecting three or four containers filled with Turkish iron this month, twice as many as last year. Aged 32, he coordinates the operations of the Turkish company La Turquoise, which provides services to Senegalese companies. Mbaye says that 90% of all business between Senegal and Turkey goes through his office: “We are developing international trade. We sell furniture, iron and spare parts, ”he told DW’s Dakar office. Let us add that all these things can be obtained at good prices in Turkey.

A lot to learn: Turkish craftsmanship is prized in Africa

Africa – market of the future

In the spirit of deepening Turkey’s relations with African countries, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan invited his partners to Istanbul for the third Turkey-Africa summit. Besides Erdogan and Minister of Commerce Mehmet Mus, speakers will include the President of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) Felix Tshisekedi and the Chairman of the African Union (AU) Commission Moussa Faki Mahamat. Representatives of the new African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat will also be on site.

The figures speak for themselves: The volume of trade between Turkey and Africa is huge, as economist Guven Sak of the Turkish Institute of Economic Policy (TEPAV) told DW. “The total sum of all projects completed on the continent to date is approximately $ 70 billion (€ 62 billion).” In 2020, Sak says, Turkish exports to Africa amounted to $ 15 billion.

“Mainland Africa has the youngest population in the world and also its fastest growing population.” According to United Nations (UN) estimates, Africa’s population will at least triple by 2100, to over four billion. Sak sees the widening of relations as the natural result of investment opportunities in the areas of urban infrastructure, logistics, energy and construction: “The fact that Africa is extremely wealthy – both in traditional and renewable energy resources – offers opportunities for a market, ”according to the economist.

A wind farm at Lake Turkana, Kenya

Beyond its natural resources, Africa offers investment opportunities in renewable energies

A growing network of links

Relations between the two regions have improved considerably since Ankara declared 2005 “Year of Africa”. The Turkish central government recognized that lucrative business opportunities lay in industrial production and construction. Turkish companies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), especially those working in the education sector, have established a presence on the continent.

Improved trade relations have been accompanied by improved diplomatic relations: Turkey has been a “strategic partner” of the African Union since 2008, organizing meetings with African heads of state and government. President Erdogan visited Angola, Nigeria and Togo last October.

At the same time, Turkey has also forged a reputation as a humanitarian partner. For example, Ankara sent experts for road, school and hospital projects in war-torn and drought-ridden Somalia. In return, observers say Turkey has gained access to the strategically important Gulf of Aden, allowing it to meet its own energy needs.

Turkish soldiers stand at attention in Libya

Maintaining military presence: Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar addresses soldiers in Tripoli, Libya

Military cooperation

Security ties between Turkey and the continent have also acquired an inordinate influence since Erdogan came to power in 2014. Somalia, Turkey’s gateway to sub-Saharan Africa, is the TURKSOM website – the largest Turkish military base abroad – since 2017.

Therefore, it makes sense that arms exports are also an important topic at the Istanbul summit. Turkish arms and aircraft exports to Ethiopia, for example, rose from around $ 235,000 in January to nearly $ 94.6 million in November, according to the Assembly of Turkish Exporters. Sales to Angola, Chad and Morocco saw similar jumps.

One of the best-selling items in Turkey is the Bayraktar TB2 combat and surveillance drone. The Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) has been used in a number of conflicts and has proven to be very effective. Reuters news agency reported that Morocco and Tunisia took delivery of Turkish combat drones in September, adding that a large number of other African countries have also expressed interest.

This article was translated from German by Jon Shelton

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