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Turkey in Africa: Achievements and Challenges


Turkey in Africa: Achievements and Challenges

Ufuk Tepebaş*

 

Abstract

Turkey is considered as an emerging economy in the global context and also a strategic partner for Africa in the regional context. Turkey’s political and economic relations with Africa have been marginal until 2005, but are rising fast and expected to grow further. The success of Turkey in Africa can be measured with traditional partnership summits, the new diplomatic missions, high – level visits, rising trade and investment, development assistance, transportation network especially in air services. However, the lack of coordination among the national actors in Turkey, sustainability question, poor knowledge about each other and mental distance are seen as the main challenges for both sides. Especially, universities and the media fail to make any tangible contribution to Turkey – Africa relations. For this reason, Turkey needs to develop a cooperation model among the national actors and should follow sustainable policies for a real strategic partnership with the African continent.

Keywords

Turkey; Africa; partnership; trade and investment; transportation; development assistance; security; non-governmental organizations

(+) Advisor to TASAM Africa Institute, İstanbul

 


Introduction

For over a decade, the African continent, especially Sub–Saharan Africa, has been undergoing a dramatic transformation in its structure. In 2000, The Economist referred to Africa as the “hopeless continent” due to its poverty and diseases, cycles of conflict, military and dictatorial one – party states.[1] In 2011, The Economist referred to Africa as the “rising continent” [2] and in 2013, the magazine contained a special report referring to Africa as the “hopeful continent”.[3] This performance has been fuelled by rapidly growing population, increased urbanization, strong domestic demand, export of its natural resources, and implementation of economic and structural reforms.

This positive view of Africa is justified that Sub – Saharan Africa is the host of some of the fastest growing economies in the world. According to International Monetary Fund and the Economist, 7 out of 10 are of the fast growing  economies. However, most unequal countries are also in Africa.  A World Bank report said that “Africa could be on the brink of an economic takeoff, much like China was 30 years ago and India 20 years ago.”[4] With the world’s largest youth population, Africa’s working – age population is expected to double to 1 billion in the next 25 years, surpassing both China and India. Today, the continent is called as a “golden opportunity” for foreign investment.

Just like itself, the relations of Africa with the rest of the world also go through a very fast process of transformation. Africa has been becoming an increasingly important trading partner for emerging economies such as China, India, Brazil, South Korea and Turkey. The success of Turkey in the continent was included in the research conducted in 2011 jointly by AfDB, OECD, UNDP and UNECA with the special theme of “Africa and its Emerging Partners”.[5] Turkey, along with China, India, Brazil and South Korea, is mentioned to be among the five emerging partners of Africa in various analyses, annual reports published by AfDB and also in organized forums.

Turkey’s “Action Plan for Opening up to Africa”, adopted in 1998, constitutes the basis of today’s policies. During the same period, countries such as China, India, Brazil and South Korea also clearly endeavoured for institutionalization of their relations with Africa. On the other hand, the BRIC Group, established by Brazil, Russia, India and China, has enlarged with the inclusion of the Republic of South Africa and became an emerging partner of Africa. During the same period, existing cooperation between Africa and its traditional partners were re-defined and strengthened.

In this context, Forum on China–African Cooperation (FOCAC), Africa-India Forum Summit, Korea-Africa Partnership Forum, Africa-European Union Summit, African-South American Summit, Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD), the U.S. – Africa Leaders Summit, African-Arab Summit and Turkey-Africa Collaboration Summit are the primary examples of institutionalizing relations. These are called as strategic partnerships by the African Union.

Turkey’s outreach to Africa

Turkey has long – standing historical and cultural connections with the African continent, dating back centuries. Until the First World War, the Ottoman Empire virtually ruled most of North Africa, Somalia and Sudan. The Ottoman Empire had also good relations with South Africa, Zanzibar, and the Kanem – Bornu Empire that once occupied the territories of today’s Niger, Chad, North Nigeria and North Cameroon. Likewise, relations were established with the Kingdom of Timbuktu which was located around today’s Mali.

Using a combination of investment and soft power – diplomatic expansion and development aid – Turkey has become more involved in the continent since the end of the 1990s in order to strengthen multilateral relations with the African continent.

Turkey’s comprehensive policy of the opening up to Africa dates back to the Action Plan adopted in 1998. The main idea steering Turkish officials to make this kind of plan stemmed from the conviction that the relations between Turkey and Africa did not seem satisfactory considering the great potential.[6] At that time Turkey had seven Embassies in Sub – Saharan Africa and only South Africa had an Embassy in Ankara. Thus, it was necessary to develop comprehensive relations with the African continent. In June 1998, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Turkey convened a series of meetings with interested parties, including government officials and Turkish ambassadors in Africa, representatives of the private sector and honorary consuls of African countries in Turkey.

In the light of consultations and suggestions expressed in these meetings, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Turkey prepared an Action Plan in order to develop relations between Turkey and the African countries. The elaborated Action Plan consisted of comprehensive measures pertaining to political, economic and cultural relations.

The main goals of the Action Plan may be summarized as follows:

  • Increasing high – level contacts between the parties;
  • Opening of new Embassies in Africa;
  • Strengthening the cooperation within international organizations such as the United Nations (UN), the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC);
  • Providing technical and humanitarian assistance to the African countries;
  • Strengthening economic and commercial relations;
  • Cooperation in the field of defense industry;
  • The development of cultural relations and cooperation between Turkish and African universities.

Despite all the good intentions to implement the Action Plan, Turkey’s outreach to Africa was postponed due to two devastating earthquakes, one on August 17 and the other on 12 November, 1999 and economic crisis in November 2000 and February 2001. The IMF was involved in the management of the Turkish economy prior to and after the crisis and provided financial and technical assistance. In this period, Turkey refocused on Africa after forming a new government in 2002.

Strategy for Enhancing the Economic and Commercial Relations with Africa

Turkey, with its advanced economy, skilled labor force and experience in international markets is committed to further increase its existing trade and investment relations with the African countries. The first concrete step taken after the Action Plan has been the “Strategy for Enhancing the Economic and Commercial Relations with Africa” developed in 2003 by the Undersecretariat for Foreign Trade of the Republic of Turkey.

The main objectives of the Strategy can be summarized as follows:

  • to increase the share of Turkey in the total trade volume of African countries up to 3% in three years;
  • to encourage Turkish small and medium sized enterprises to penetrate into African market;
  • to make either joint investments or direct Turkish investments in African countries in order to increase the competitive power of Turkey in certain sectors;
  • to transfer technology from Turkey to African countries;
  • to raise the share of Turkish construction, consultancy and engineering firms in the African market;
  • to diminish poverty by investing in the African countries and increasing the economic activities by creating more added value in African economies.[7]

The key instruments of the Strategy have been designed as follows:

  • to initiate the regular dialogue by creating Joint Economic Commissions (JEC) or high level economic negotiation and decision-making mechanisms;
  • to conclude rapidly the basic agreements that will constitute the legal framework of relations between Turkey and African countries;
  • to conclude preferential trade arrangements and Free Trade Agreements with the African countries in line with Turkey’s obligations towards the EU and other international liabilities;
  • to provide the African countries with the technical assistance in the preparation and implementation of the laws regarding the trade policy instruments in parallel with the international practices;
  • to create favourable conditions for holding regular introductory activities such as fairs, exhibitions, buyers’ missions and trade missions;
  • to establish new Commercial Counsellor’s offices in African countries;
  • to help Turkish technical consultancy firms structuring themselves in the target countries and to promote the creation of new projects in African countries via donations and credits offered under favourable;
  • to strengthen the activities of Turkish banks in African countries;
  • to provide African countries with the technical assistance and educational support in the fields where Turkey is well experienced.[8]

Under this strategy, Turkey has been implementing country and region based programs in Africa structured according to the political stability, economic outlook, foreign trade structured, and regional integration process of each country or region.[9]

Institutionalization of Turkey – Africa Relations

Turkey declared 2005 as “Africa Year”. Following this step, the African Union granted Turkey “observer status” and the Turkish Ambassador to Addis Ababa became at the same time permanent representative to the African Union. Then, the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan visited Ethiopia and South Africa in March 2005. These were the first official visits ever paid by any Turkish Prime Minister to Sub – Saharan Africa. In addition to that, Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA) opened its first office in Africa on March 2nd 2005. At present, TIKA has fourteen coordination offices in the continent.[10] With the assistance of these offices, TIKA currently implements development projects in more than forty African countries. These projects cover mainly the areas of education, health and humanitarian assistance.

In addition to TIKA, the Ministry of Health, Presidency of Religious Affairs (Diyanet) and Turkish Red Crescent (Kızılay) have also made significant contributions through development assistance and health projects. For instance, Turkish – Sudanese Research and Training Hospital in Nyala, the capital of South Darfur province, provides medical treatment and operations free of charge. Similarly, a modern drug store in Chad has also been servicing for patients free of charge since 2008. A short time ago, Turkey built the biggest hospital in Mogadishu and it has been opened on 25 January 2015 during President Erdoğan’s visit to Somalia.

2008, the 10th anniversary of Turkey’s opening up to Africa, has been a significant milestone from the perspective of Turkey’s relations with Africa. At first, Turkey was declared as a “strategic partner” by the African Union during the 10th African Union Summit held in January 2008. When considered that such a relationship was enjoyed up to the present only by China, Japan, South Korea, India, South America as a continent, and the European Union as a regional organisation, the value and meaning of such a tie being conferred to Turkey becomes more apparent.[11]

Then, bilateral relations have gained a substantial momentum. In addition to that, Turkey’s application for the membership to the African Development Bank Group was accepted during the Governors Meeting held on 14–15 May 2008. However, there has been a delay of five years caused by slow implementation of legal procedures. Finally, a declaration issued by the Bank Group’s President Donald Kaberuka, on 29 October 2013 formalized Turkey’s membership in the Bank Group and Turkey was represented for the first time in the Assembly meeting on 3 December 2013. The membership of Turkey will provide more extensive opportunities for Turkish contractors and investors in the countries of the continent, especially in the field of construction. Likewise, special importance has been given to contracting and consultancy services in the African Strategy renewed in 2010. While the total value of projects undertaken by Turkish contractors in the African countries was only $9,6 billion in 2002, it exceeded $46,4 billion in 2012.[12]

“The First Turkey–Africa Cooperation Summit” was organized in Istanbul between 18 and 21 August 2008 with the purpose of evaluation of the current status of Turkey’s relations with the African countries and determination of a common road map for the future. 49 African Heads of State and Government or their representatives attended the Summit.[13] At the end of the Conference, “The Istanbul Declaration”[14] was adopted as well as a document establishing guidelines for the implementation of the plan “The Framework of Cooperation for Africa – Turkey Partnership”.[15] In order to ensure the implementation of the provisions of the Istanbul Declaration, the establishment of a follow – up mechanism was also agreed upon. Accordingly, it was decided that a Turkey – Africa Summit would be organized every five years in Turkey and in Africa respectively.

In parallel to the Turkey–Africa Cooperation Summit, side events such as “Turkey–Africa Business Forum” and “Turkish – African CSOs Forum” were held in Istanbul. As a result of the Business Forum, a Turkish – African Chamber was established between the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey (TOBB) and African Commercial, Industrial, Agricultural and Professional Chambers Union (UACCIAP). Meanwhile, the Turkish – African CSOs Forum led to the constitution of an International Development and Cooperation Platform of NGOs, known as USTKIP.[16]

Within the scope of all these positive developments, Turkey was elected as a non-permanent member to the UN Security Council for the period 2009-2010, for the first time since 1961, 50 out of Africa’s 53 states having supported Turkey’s membership. Turkey announced once again its candidacy for a non – permanent member seat at the UN Security Council for the period 2015-2016, but this time without success.[17] Particularly, the troubled relationship between Turkey and Egypt adversely affected approaches of some African and Arab states. As is known, Egypt and Turkey mutually downgraded the level of their diplomatic relations after the military coup in Egypt.

As a follow–up of the Cooperation Summit, Turkey – Africa relations gained momentum through a new strategy. In this context, an “African Strategy” was adopted on 26 March 2010 by the Prime Ministry of the Republic of Turkey. This strategy aimed to strengthen partnership with the African Union and its members.

In addition, within the framework of the follow – up mechanism adopted at the Cooperation Summit, the First Turkey – Africa Cooperation High Level Officials Meeting was held on 15 December 2010 in Istanbul and the “Joint Implementation Plan of Africa – Turkey Partnership for the period 2010 – 2014” was agreed upon at the meeting. In this plan, nine areas of cooperation were identified such as:

  • Institutional cooperation;
  • Trade and investment;
  • Agriculture, agribusiness, rural development, water resources management, and small and medium scale enterprises;
  • Health;
  • Peace and security;
  • Infrastructure, energy and transport;
  • Culture, tourism and education;
  • Media, information and communication technologies;

Besides, the parties agree to hold a Ministerial Review Conference in 2011, the Second High Level Officials Meeting in 2012 and the Second Turkey–Africa Cooperation Summit in 2013.

As planned, the First Ministerial Review Conference was held on 16 December 2011 in Istanbul, but the Second High Level Officials Meeting and Cooperation Summit were postponed due to the busy agenda of Turkey and the African Union. While the Second High Level Officials Meeting was held on 19 June 2013 in Addis Ababa, the Second Turkey – Africa Partnership Summit was held in Malabo – Equatorial Guinea on 19 – 21 November 2014. In accordance with Banjul Formula, only fifteen African countries were invited to the Summit by the African Union.[18] At the end of the Summit, the parties adopted the Malabo Declaration and Joint Implementation Plan for the period 2015 – 2019.[19] The Parties also agreed to hold the Third Turkey – Africa Partnership Summit in 2019 in Turkey.

Table – 1: Official Events between Turkey and Africa

Year Place Events Outcomes
2008 Istanbul The First Turkey – Africa  Cooperation Summit Istanbul Declaration,

Framework of Cooperation for Africa – Turkey Partnership

2010 Istanbul The First Turkey – Africa Cooperation High Level Officials Meeting Joint Implementation Plan of Africa – Turkey Partnership (2010 – 2014)
2011 Istanbul Africa – Turkey Partnership Ministerial Review Conference Final Communiqué
2013 Addis Ababa The Second Turkey – Africa High Level Officials Meeting Review of the preparations for the Second Turkey – Africa Partnership Summit
2014 Malabo The Second Turkey–Africa   Partnership Summit Malabo Declaration,

Joint Implementation Plan of Africa – Turkey Partnership (2015 – 2019)

Source: compiled by author

It is a fact that there has been between Turkey and African countries a significant increase in the number of mutual visits since 2008 at the level of Presidents, Prime Ministers and Ministers. Especially, the most important characteristic of the official visits paid to the Sub – Saharan African countries is the fact that they were the first visits ever made to these countries at that level. The geographical location of African countries visited by Turkish officials shows that the African policy of Turkey is not confined to a certain region or a few countries but is spread to a wide area.

The increasing number of diplomatic missions between Turkey and African countries is indeed a substantial indicator of institutionalization of relations. Hence, each newly opened mission presents multidirectional opportunities for strengthening bilateral relations. Today, Turkey has 39 resident Embassies in Africa while 31 African countries have Embassies in Turkey. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, former Prime Minister of the Republic of Turkey, announced in a statement prior to his visits to Gabon, Nigeria and Senegal in January 2013 that Turkey intended to open Embassies in all African countries. Besides, Turkey has accredited some of its ambassadors to the Regional Economic Communities in the continent since 2005. Turkish Embassies to Abuja, Darussalam, Addis Ababa, Lusaka and Libreville are respectively accredited to the ECOWAS, EAC, IGAD, COMESA and ECCAS. In this context, Turkish Embassy to Gabone should also be accredited to the SADC.

Although the increasing number of diplomatic missions of Turkey in Africa is a positive development, it is yet too early to conclude that newly opened Embassies are fully operational. In fact, most of these missions are at the present understaffed. Similarly, a frequent update of web pages of Turkish Embassies in Africa remains as a significant need.

Communication between Turkey and Africa has considerably developed over the last years. In fact, transportation has become easier and costs have decreased, following the inauguration of direct flights. Turkish Airlines is planning further growth in Africa in 2015 with new destinations. Turkish Airlines has already the largest network in Africa among foreign carriers; overtaking Air France and Emirates Airlines, it has added a staggering 25 African destinations to its network over the last three years. By the end of 2015, Turkish Airlines will have at least 45 destination lines in Africa.[20] While North Africa continues to be predominant, Turkish Airlines has also established a large presence in Sub – Saharan Africa.

In addition to bilateral contacts, Turkey also hosts or co-chairs numerous international conferences which also concern African countries. For example, “The 5th World Water Forum”, which was attended by 33,000 persons from 192 countries, was organized in Istanbul on 16-22 March 2009.[21] Turkey also hosted “the 4th UN Least Developed Countries (LDCs) Conference” on 9-13 May 2011.[22] During that conference, Turkey pledged to spend $200 million annually for the world’s LDCs.[23]

In addition to these events, Turkey co – chaired with Egypt the “International Donor Conference for Reconstruction and Development of Darfur” in Cairo on 21 March 2010 and hosted the Istanbul Conferences on Somalia in 2010 and 2012. Turkey also hosted direct talks between the leaders of Somalia and autonomous Somaliland on 13 April 2013, as a result of which the leaders signed a memorandum of understanding and engaged in future talks. In this regard, Turkey has been sollicited as a mediator between Somalia and autonomous Somaliland. Last year, Turkey also brought together the representatives of Somalia diaspora, holding the Global Somalia Diaspora Conference in Istanbul on 21 – 22 June 2014.

Turkey has been exerting great emphasis to the Somalian question, which guaranteed the country a lot of prestige in the African continent.[24] Turkey has unilaterally taken a nation – building approach. It decided to rebuild infrastructure, provide financial infusion into local economies, improve housing and healthcare, produce jobs for local, and build capacity for sustainable growth by providing scholarships.[25]

Somalia receives more assistance from Turkey than other African nations. However, Somalia has greater expectations from Turkey and this constitutes a risk for Turkey. If the Somalia high expectations are not moderated and if Turkish government is unable to expand its relief and development assistance to peaceful regions, the Turkey–Somalia partnership could be strained.[26] Somalia’s clan structure and its complicated political dynamics pose other risks for Turkey.

 

 

Peace and Security

Peace and security are sine qua non conditions for cooperation between Turkey and Africa. Especially, terrorism, drug trafficking, migrant smuggling, illegal migration, human trafficking and money laundering have been identified as common security threats.

Turkey is currently providing police personnel and contributing financially to six UN peacekeeping missions in the continent such as MINUSMA (Mali), MONUSCO (DR Congo), UNAMID (Darfur), UNMIL (Liberia), UNMISS (South Sudan), and UNOCI (Côte d’Ivoire).[27] Turkey is also contributing financially to African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and the Turkish navy has been participating in counter – piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden and off the coast of Somalia for the last five years.

NATO member Turkey’s rising role in Somalia and its support to the AMISOM draw attention. Al Shabaab terrorist organization targeted Turkish officials in Somalia by carrying out several suicide attacks against Turkish Embassy in Mogadishu on 27 July 2013, Turkish Airlines team on 27 May 2014, and a Turkish delegation at a hotel in Mogadishu on 22 January 2015. After the attacks, Turkish government emphasized that there will be no change in its policy towards Somalia.

Turkey is on a major migration route and illegal migration forms an integral part of bilateral relations with Africa. The world cannot expect people to sit patiently in condition of poverty, oppression, insecurity and lack of opportunity, especially now that the global media have made them so aware that a better life is available in other countries.[28]

From this fact, every passing year, more African citizens have been migrating to Turkey. Generally the final aim is to arrive in Europe via Turkey, but a part of immigrants see Turkey as final destination. Particularly Istanbul hosts  a community of African refugees, with the majority comprising Somali natives.[29] In this regard, local governments should put it on the agenda, because they have not yet any information or statistics about immigrants. From the local governments’ perspectives, it is possible to cooperate with non-governmental organizations and international specialized agencies such as IOM and UNHCR.

Commercial and Economic Relations

While the opportunities provided by Africa address wider masses every passing day, they also encourage entrepreneurs in search of new markets. Turkey, with its dynamic economy, foreign trade experience and knowledge, displays complementary features for African economies.

Although Africa is especially among target markets for small and medium sized Turkish enterprises, it now transformed into a market that also attracts large-scale enterprises. Furthermore, in addition to being a lively export market for Turkey, Africa also provides cheap raw materials for Turkish industry.

In this respect, efforts made during the last decade were successful and gave hope for the future. Notwithstanding the foregoing, the fact that there is still a long way that Turkey should undertake in Africa should not be neglected. As a matter of fact, Turkey has, as of today, Free Trade Agreements (FTA) with only four countries in the continent. These countries are Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco and Mauritius. On the other hand, negotiations with Ghana, Sudan, Seychelles, Democratic Republic of Congo and Cameroon are continuing.

African countries wishing to establish local industries and produce basic food and consumption goods do not have a favourable opinion of FTA’s with the thought that they may have an adverse effect on national development efforts. For this reason, FTA negotiations should rather be conducted with Regional Economic Communities (RECs) such as COMESA, EAC, ECOWAS and SADC.[30]

On the other hand, Joint Economic Commissions were set up by the means of signing “Trade, Economic and Technical Cooperation Agreements” with 37 African countries until today. In addition to that, “Agreements on Reciprocal Promotion and Protection of Investments” as well as “Avoidance of Double Taxation Agreements” were concluded by Turkey with 12 and 7 African countries respectively. Details are indicated in the tables here below.

Table – 2: Agreements on Reciprocal Promotion and Protection of Investments

Algeria Egypt
Ethiopia Nigeria
Morocco Senegal
Republic of South Africa Sudan
Cameroon Tanzania
Libya Tunisia

Source: Ministry of Economy of the Republic of Turkey

 

Table – 3: Avoidance of Double Taxation Agreements

Tunisia
Algeria
Egypt
Sudan
Morocco
Republic of South Africa
Ethiopia

Source: Revenue Administration

 

Business umbrella organizations or associations such as Foreign Economic Relations Board (DEIK), Turkish Confederation of Businessmen and Industrialists (TUSKON) and Turkish Exporters Assembly (TIM) organize each year business events and aim to draw attention to existing opportunities in the African continent. In addition, there are twenty bilateral business councils within the framework of DEIK.[31] While TUSKON[32] organizes business events under the title of Trade Bridge, South African Turkish Business Association (SATBA), affiliated to TUSKON, aims to enhance business relations between South Africa and Turkey.[33]

As mentioned above, Turkey has been trying to improve its communication network with the whole of African continent. The increasing number of direct flights between Turkey and African countries provides easy, cheap and fast transportation and enhances business relationships, in addition to the opportunities for tourism. Today Turkish Airlines is one of the major foreign carriers for tourism industry in Africa. A similar approach should be developed in maritime transport services, because it accounts for 92 – 97% of Africa’s international trade.[34] Thirty – eight African countries are either coastal or island states while fifty – four of its over 100 port facilities handle containers and various forms of cargo.

As of today, Egypt is the country which attracts Turkish investments most. Other North African countries such as Morocco and Tunisia have also a big share in Turkish investments. On the other hand, countries such as Ethiopia, South Africa and Sudan rank high in Turkish investments in Sub – Saharan Africa.

Although Egypt is the first example in Africa of Free Zones established and operated by Turkish investors, efforts are being made currently to extend this model to Ghana, Cameroon, Nigeria, Ethiopia and Sudan. Free Zones will certainly be an important incentive for Turkish investors.

Turkish small and medium sized enterprises are among the leading suppliers of African market. This is due to the fact that the prices of goods of Turkish origin are more competitive, in comparison with Western products. Thus Turkish products have a favourable image in the African market in terms of quality / price.

Africa started to have a significant place in the growth strategy of many Turkish companies, especially the majority of the companies operating in the Sub – Saharan Africa market which are trying to catch up. Nevertheless, language problems, lack of qualified labor force, security, double taxation, high transportation costs, bureaucracy and corruption have adverse effects on Turkish investors as well as the others.

Although small and medium scale enterprises represent nowadays the majority of Turkish companies operating in Africa, investments are also being initiated by some large scale enterprises. For instance, in 2011, Arçelik A.Ş., a manufacturer of durable goods, purchased South Africa’s Defy Appliances for $324 million and became one of the most significant Turkish investors in the continent. Yapı Merkezi, a contracting company, won a major railway project tender of $1.7 billion value in Ethiopia.[35] Enhanced business relations between Turkey and Africa led also to know–how sharing, Turkish investors considering Africa as a long – term partner.

Turkey’s trade relations with Africa have shown a remarkable development over the last years. Especially, the rising trend with Sub – Saharan Africa is noteworthy. The trade volume with the region which amounted to $1.3 billion in 2003, reached $8.2 billion in 2014. The overall trade volume with the whole of African continent exceeded $23.4 billion in 2014, Turkey having registered a trade surplus of more than $4.1 billion. While Egypt appears to be the biggest trading partner of Turkey in Africa, Algeria, Nigeria, Libya, Morocco, South Africa and Tunisia figure among the other major trading partners.

Table – 4: Trade between Turkey and Africa (2003-2014 / US Dollar)

Period Export Import Volume Balance
2003   2.128.558.625 3.338.423.713   5.466.982.338 -1.209.865.088
North Africa   1.574.315.810 2.518.660.413   4.092.976.223    -944.344.603
Sub – Saharan      554.242.815    819.763.300   1.374.006.115    -265.520.485
2014 13.764.793.427 9.680.642.372 23.445.435.799  4.084.151.055
North Africa   9.766.327.405 5.468.975.912 15.235.303.317  4.297.351.493
Sub – Saharan   3.998.466.022 4.211.666.460   8.210.132.482    -213.200.438

Source: Ministry of Economy of the Republic of Turkey

 

Egypt, Libya, South Africa and Nigeria will have a predominant role in reaching the $500 billion overall foreign trade volume target set up by Turkey for 2023.

It would, however, be more realistic to define accessible goals in terms of trade volume, because in spite of the recent progress achieved, figures remain far behind the targets. For instance, during the opening speech of the 3rd Africa Foreign Trade Bridge in 2008, Kürşat Tüzmen, the former State Minister in charge of foreign trade, had announced that a $50 billion trade volume with Africa was aimed for 2012. However, the figure for that year had been $23 billion. On the other hand, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, former Prime Minister, had declared during his visit to Gabon that Turkey wished to reach a trade volume of $50 billion with Africa by the end of 2015. It seems again that this figure will be out of reach by the end of 2015.

The Role of Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Turkish – African Relations

Cooperation does not solely depend on government policy. Civil society has also an important role to play, but this cooperation model must be designed for mutual benefit. Lack of knowledge of each other is usually the greatest barrier to closer cooperation. Linkages at NGOs level, is the most appropriate method to overcome that barrier.

Turkey–Africa cooperation has, especially since 2008, been reinvigorated with the involvement of NGOs. The Turkish Asian Center for Strategic Studies (TASAM) African Institute has also organized the Turkish–African CSOs Forum on 14 – 16 August 2008 in Istanbul with the participation of Turkish and African CSOs from 45 countries and the participants agreed to establish a cooperation platform which is known as USTKIP (International Development and Cooperation Platform of Non–governmental Organizations).[36] While institutional co–operation among NGOs is desirable, it needs to be supported by a sustainable fund flow. On the other hand, for the sake of mutual awareness, more think tanks should focus on the continent and organize regular events.

Today, many Turkish NGOs play a key role in strengthening relations with African countries. In this context, many Turkish NGOs have strong ties with their African counterparts. These NGOs become effective through their successful activities on humanitarian assistance, but they also need to focus on environment, energy, peace and security. For instance, it would be beneficial for Turkish NGOs to communicate with African NGOs which are members to the African Union Economic, Social and Cultural Council (ECOSOCC).

Turkish universities and the media

Today, mutual lack of information poses a challenge in relations between Turkey and Africa. It is a fact that academic research in Turkish universities with regard to the African countries has not yet reached a satisfactory level. Despite the fact that scholarships are provided by the Turkish Government, the Association of Foundation Universities and the private companies, Turkish universities and academics are not familiar with Sub – Saharan Africa. Turkey does not have experts on African affairs nor do African countries on Turkey.[37]  Limited number of academic publications is being mainly prepared with individual efforts and do not lead to any comprehensive research.

Turkish universities should therefore improve the cooperation with their African counterparts. In this context, the steps to be taken may be summarized as follows:

  • forming a data bank about the universities and think tank organizations of the African continent,
  • creating mutual awareness between the parties,
  • promotion of academic and student exchange programmes,
  • publication of articles and reports on topics of mutual interest,
  • exchange of publications,
  • organization of workshops and conferences.

Also, Turkish investors in Africa should promote the collaboration between universities. This type of partnership model will encourage research activities and thus, investors can find a skilled workforce to meet their needs.

On the level of media, more work should be done to help each nation understands each other.[38]  A Turkey – Africa Media Forum was held on 9 – 10 May 2012 in Ankara and the African Media Initiative (AMI) and Turkey signed on November 2012 a convention aiming at more collaboration between the two sides. In addition, Turkish Radio and Television Corporation (TRT) web and radio stations are broadcasting in African languages including Hausa and Swahili. Anadolu Agency, a semi – official Turkish news agency, opened offices in Cairo and in Addis Ababa.

Unfortunately, Africa is generally reflected to the public opinion by Turkish media as being a continent with conflicts, health problems and food shortages. As a result of a negative image about Africa becomes  inevitable. Therefore, it is necessary to analyze African countries in a more objective manner and to include also success stories in the countries of the continent in order to eliminate such prejudices. If, one looks at Africa from a broader perspective, it will be possible to add positive concepts such as potential, development and partnership to the keywords of famine, disaster and conflict. Steps to be taken in this respect will support Turkey’s Action Plan for Opening up to Africa and will make Turkey more visible by the people of Africa.

Conclusion                     

As a result of outreach policy, Africa has gained a new dimension in Turkey’s foreign policy. Thanks to its active diplomacy carried out between 2005 and 2011, Turkey became a strategic partner of the African Union and it is being considered as an emerging power in Africa. In spite of this, it is yet early to say that Turkey has got a sufficient experience in the continent.

China, India, and Brazil’s growing presence in Africa is another challenge facing Turkey in its relationships with Africa. Top three emerging powers have more comprehensive partnerships with the continent. Because of this reason, they can analyse better the needs of the African countries than Turkey.

Turkey and Africa have poor knowledge about each other and mental distance is seen as the main challenge in Turkey–Africa relations. Besides, there is no coordination among Turkish national actors. In order to develop its partnership relations with Africa, Turkey will need over the next years to develop a cooperation model with the assistance of national actors such as public institutions, the private sector, NGOs, universities and the media. In short, a genuine and effective African policy must go beyond governments and involve all socio– economic actors. In addition to that, Turkey will have to follow a sustainable policy for a real strategic partnership with the continent.

 End Notes    


References

  • African Development Bank Group, Development Centre of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, United Nations Development Programme, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, African Economic Outlook 2011
  • Arman, Abubakar, “Will Turkey Help Somalia Scratch its 21 – Year Itch?”, Think Africa Press, 29 May 2012, http://thinkafricapress.com/somalia/turkey-somalia-21-year-itch-istanbul-conference
  • CAPA Centre for Aviation, “Turkish Airlines will add six new destinations for Africa in 2015, for a total of 48 cities”, 24th December 2014, http://centreforaviation.com/analysis/turkish-airlines-will-add-six-new-destinations-for-2015-in-africa-for-a-total-of-48-cities-202922
  • Economic Commission for Africa, Accelerating Regional Integration in Africa, 2004
  • Foreign Economic Relations Board, http://en.deik.org.tr/#
  • Framework of Cooperation, http://afrika.mfa.gov.tr/framework-of-cooperation-adopted-on-19-august-2008-at-the-turkey-africa-cooperation-summit-in-istanbul.en.mfa
  • Hazar, Numan, “Turkey in Africa: The Implementation of the Action Plan and an evaluation after fifteen years”, Ankara: ORSAM Report No. 124, July 2012
  • International Crisis Group, Assessing Turkey’s Role in Somalia, Africa Briefing No:92, 8 October 2012, http://www.crisisgroup.org/~/media/Files/africa/horn-of-africa/somalia/b092-assessing-turkeys-role-in-somalia.pdf
  • International Development and Cooperation Platform of Non-governmental Organizations http://www.ustkip.org/
  • Istanbul Declaration (2008), http://afrika.mfa.gov.tr/istanbul-declaration-adopted-on-19-august-2008-at-the-turkey-africa-cooperation-summit-in-istanbul.en.mfa
  • Karabalık, Hakan, “Yükselen Yeni Afrika ve Türkiye”, Timreport, Turkish Exporters Assembly, 15 June 2013 – 15 July 2013, No: 101
  • Kızılarslan, Attila, “Economic relations between Turkey and African countries” in Turkish and African Civil Society Organizations (CSOs): Cooperation and Development, (p. 19 – 27), Ed. Ufuk Tepebas, Istanbul: Tasam Publications, 2009
  • Malabo Declaration, http://afrika.mfa.gov.tr/data/21-november-2014-summit-declaration.pdf
  • Ministry of Economy of the Republic of Turkey, http://www.ekonomi.gov.tr/
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  • Revenue Administration, http://www.gib.gov.tr/index.php?id=505
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  • Tepebaş, Ufuk, “Turkey’s Foreign Policy towards Africa”, Istanbul: Tasam Publications, forthcoming
  • Tepebaş, Ufuk, Dönüşüm Sürecindeki Sahra altı Afrika: Kalkınma, Güvenlik ve Ortaklık, Istanbul: Tasam Publications, 2013
  • Tepebaş, Ufuk (Ed.), The Role of Civil Society and Think Tank Organizations in Development of Turkish – African Relations, Istanbul: Tasam Publications, 2010
  • Tepebaş, Ufuk (Ed.), “Diplomatic Relations between African countries and Turkey”, Istanbul: Tasam Publications, Strategic Report No: 20, October 2007
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  • Tepedelen, Kenan, “Cooperation possibilities among Turkish Official Institutions and Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and Specialized Institutes” in Regional Organizations in Africa: Institutionalization and Cooperation, (p. 101-103), Ed. Ufuk Tepebaş, Istanbul: Tasam Publications, 2009
  • The Economist http://www.economist.com/
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  • The Fourth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries, http://ldc4istanbul.org/
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  • Wheeler, Tom, “Ankara to Africa: Turkey’s outreach since 2005”, (p.43–62), South African Journal of International Affairs, Vol. 18, No. 1, April 2011
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  • Wheeler, Tom & Wheeler, Donna Wyckoff, “What Can Turkey and Turkish Civil Society in Africa?”, Ufuk Tepebaş (Ed.), Turkish and African Civil Society Organizations (CSOs): Cooperation and Development, (p. 275–283), Istanbul: Tasam Publications, 2009
  • Yener, Ahmet Mahir, “The Trade Relations between Turkey and Sub – Saharan Africa and the role of Development Aid”, Ahmet Kavas & Ufuk Tepebaş (Ed.), Sub – Saharan Africa, (p. 555 – 561), Istanbul: Tasam Publications, 2006

[1] The Economist, “Hopeless Africa”, May 11th 2000, http://www.economist.com/node/333429

[2] The Economist, “Africa rising”, December 3rd 2011, http://www.economist.com/node/21541015

[3] The Economist, “A hopeful continent”, March 2nd 2013, http://www.economist.com/news/special-report/21572377-african-lives-have-already-greatly-improved-over-past-decade-says-oliver-august

[4] The World Bank, “Africa’s Future and the World Bank’s Support It”, March 2011, p.4

[5] African Development Bank Group, Development Centre of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, United Nations Development Programme, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, African Economic Outlook 2011

[6] Numan Hazar, Turkey in Africa: The Implementation of the Action Plan and an evaluation after fifteen years, Ankara: ORSAM Report No. 124, July 2012, p.25

[7] Attila G. Kızılarslan, “Economic relations between Turkey and African countries” in Turkish and African Civil Society Organizations (CSOs): Cooperation and Development, (p. 19 – 27), Ed. Ufuk Tepebas, Istanbul: Tasam Publications, 2009

[8] Ibid.

[9]  Ahmet Mahir Yener, “The Trade Relations between Turkey and Sub – Saharan Africa and the role of Development Aid”, in Sub – Saharan Africa, (p.555 – 561), Eds. Ahmet Kavas & Ufuk Tepebaş, Istanbul: Tasam Publications, 2006

[10]  TIKA opened coordination offices in Ethiopia, Sudan, Senegal, Somalia, Kenya, Djibouti, Namibia, Cameroon, Niger, Chad, Libya, Egypt, Tunisia, and Algeria. For more information on the TIKA, please see http://www.tika.gov.tr/en/overseasoffices

[11] Kenan Tepedelen, “The Turkish Policy of Opening up to Africa”, Ankara: Foreign Policy Institute (p.72 – 73),  Nos. 3 – 4 / 2008

[12] Hakan Karabalık, “Yükselen Yeni Afrika ve Türkiye”, Timreport, Turkish Exporters Assembly, 15 June 2013 – 15 July 2013, No: 101

[13] 11 delegates also attended to the Summit from international and regional organizations including the African Union.

[14] http://afrika.mfa.gov.tr/istanbul-declaration-adopted-on-19-august-2008-at-the-turkey-africa-cooperation-summit-in-istanbul.en.mfa

[15] http://afrika.mfa.gov.tr/framework-of-cooperation-adopted-on-19-august-2008-at-the-turkey-africa-cooperation-summit-in-istanbul.en.mfa

[16]  http://www.ustkip.org/

[17] In 2008, when Turkey was elected to the UN Security Council, it had 151 votes in the first round of the elections. In 2014, Turkey got 109 votes in the first round, 73 votes in the second round and only 51 votes in the third round.

[18] Banjul Formula was adopted by the African Union in 2006 at its Summit in Banjul – Gambia. According to this formula, AU chooses 15 participants for the Summit.

[19] For the official documents, please see http://afrika.mfa.gov.tr/data/21-november-2014-summit-declaration.pdf http://afrika.mfa.gov.tr/data/turkey-africa-joint-implementation-plan-2015-2019.pdf

[20] CAPA Centre for Aviation, “Turkish Airlines will add six new destinations for Africa in 2015, for a total of 48 cities”, 24th December 2014, http://centreforaviation.com/analysis/turkish-airlines-will-add-six-new-destinations-for-2015-in-africa-for-a-total-of-48-cities-202922

[21]  http://www.worldwaterforum5.org/

[22]  http://ldc4istanbul.org/

[23] Ufuk Tepebaş, Dönüşüm Sürecindeki Sahra altı Afrika: Kalkınma, Güvenlik & Ortaklık, Istanbul: Tasam Publications, 2013, p. 339

[24] Paulo Fagundes Visentini, “Africa and the Emerging Powers: the South and the Unholy Cooperation”, Austral: Brazilian Journal of Strategy and International Relations, (p. 41 – 67), v.3, n.5, Jan / Jun. 2014

[25] Abubakar Arman, “Will Turkey Help Somalia Scratch its 21 – Year Itch?”, Think Africa Press, 29 May 2012, http://thinkafricapress.com/somalia/turkey-somalia-21-year-itch-istanbul-conference

[26] International Crisis Group, Assessing Turkey’s Role in Somalia, Africa Briefing No:92, 8 October 2012

http://www.crisisgroup.org/~/media/Files/africa/horn-of-africa/somalia/b092-assessing-turkeys-role-in-somalia.pdf

[27] For more detailed about the United Nations peacekeeping operations, please see http://www.un.org/en/peacekeeping/

[28]  Tom Wheeler & Donna Wyckoff – Wheeler, “What can Turkey and Turkish Civil Society do to support Civil Society in Africa?” in Turkish and African Civil Society Organizations (CSOs): Cooperation and Development, (p.285-293),  Ed. Ufuk Tepebaş, Istanbul: Tasam Publications, 2009

[29] Hannah Tayson, “Somali Refugees Find an Unlikely Home in Istanbul”, Inter Press Service News Agency, 29 July 2014, http://www.ipsnews.net/2014/07/somali-refugees-find-an-unlikely-home-in-istanbul/

[30] Kenan Tepedelen, “Cooperation possibilities among Turkish Official Institutions and Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and specialized institutes” in Regional Organizations in Africa: Institutionalization and Cooperation, (p. 101 – 103), Ed. Ufuk Tepebaş, Istanbul: Tasam Publications, 2009

[31] For more detailed information, please see http://en.deik.org.tr/#

[32] http://www.tuskon.org/?lang=en

[33] http://satba.org/

[34] Economic Commission for Africa, Accelerating Regional Integration in Africa, 2004

[35] Ufuk Tepebaş, Dönüşüm Sürecindeki Sahra altı Afrika: Kalkınma, Güvenlik & Ortaklık, Istanbul: Tasam Publications, 2013, p. 353 – 354

[36]  For detailer information about USTKIP, please see http://www.ustkip.org/en

[37] Kieran E. Uchehara, “Continuity and Change in Turkish Foreign Policy Toward Africa” in Gazi Academic View, (p. 43 – 64),  Volume: 2, Number: 3, Winter 2008

[38] Adeleke Omitowoju, “Setting the Stage for Cultural Exchange” in the Role of Civil Society and Think Tank Organizations in Development of Turkish – African Relations, (p. 143-150), Ed. Ufuk Tepebaş, Istanbul: Tasam Publications, 2010

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