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Turkey and Africa .. Features and dimensions of a strategic partnership

The attention of the major countries turned to Africa, and these countries were keen to organize what is known as strategic partnerships with the continent of Africa through the African Union, and therefore we found America, China and Europe organizing summits for periodic strategic partnerships with Africa, as did some emerging countries, including Turkey.

And strategic relations do not arise out of a vacuum, and therefore Turkey’s economic relations with the African continent are proceeding according to a clear plan, as the Turkish Foreign Ministry website indicates, the strategy of Turkey’s economic relations with Africa was developed in 2003, and Turkey paved the way for that strategy by expanding its diplomatic representation in Africa. So, the number of its embassies in Africa has increased from 12 in 2003 to about 39 now.

Turkey has also paved the way to extend its economic relations with African countries through the establishment of many economic councils in a bilateral framework, as the number of these councils reached about 31 councils with 31 countries, and Turkish Airlines reached about 48 destinations in 31 African countries.

In addition, the development of relations on the educational aspect and the provision of educational grants by Turkey to the people of African countries, as well as the health aspect and charitable work by Turkish charitable organizations, whether those organizations are affiliated with the government or affiliated with civil society.

In 2014, the reports of Turkish NGOs working in the field of providing free medical services in 20 African countries announced that they had provided their services through 500 Turkish doctors and about 100 members of health care teams, and about 280 thousand patients from African countries benefited from the medical examinations of these institutions. Among them, about 53 thousand patients benefited from the procedure to remove cataract from the eyes to improve their vision significantly.

It is noted that this Turkish performance cannot be considered a mere aspiration to increase the volume of trade and investment, but rather reflects an awareness of the changes that the world will witness, and that Turkey wanted to have strategic options far from the map of international powers based on the theory of “center and branches”. The Turkish strategy aims to get rid of Dependency to America and the West, and that is why we have found Turkey since 2005 expanding its relations to the East in various fields, and the Turkish partnership with Africa comes and draws a new strategy to deal with it in this context.

Turkish investments in Africa were marked by its eagerness to employ local labor (Reuters)

Economic aspects

Turkey’s first economic summit with Africa was held in 2008 in Istanbul, in which 49 African countries participated, and in the same year the African Union announced that Turkey is a strategic partner for the continent, and in late 2014 the second economic summit between the two parties was held in Equatorial Guinea.

The data of the Turkish Statistics Institute shows that the value of trade exchange between Turkey and Africa amounted to about 22.42 billion dollars in 2019, compared to about 20.67 billion dollars in 2014, and about 5.3 billion dollars in 2003, and it is noted that North African countries account for about two-thirds of the value. Trade exchange with Turkey. It is also noticed that Turkey has recently focused on the countries of the Horn of Africa and the countries of Sub-Saharan Africa.

Turkish investments in Africa are estimated at about $ 7 billion, and Turkish investments in Africa are distinguished by its eagerness to employ local labor. In 2014, the number of job opportunities created by Turkish investments amounted to about 16.5 thousand job opportunities, but some estimates go that the cumulative Turkish investments in Africa has succeeded in creating about 100,000 jobs.

Turkish investments in Africa are also interested in using local resources, and working to export part of the products of these investments to other countries, which increases the added value to African countries.

But there is another important and prominent aspect in the Turkish-African economic relations, which is the contribution of the Turkish contracting sector, which has implemented nearly 1,150 projects in various areas of infrastructure, with an estimated value of $ 70 billion.

The infrastructure projects market in Africa is one of the promising markets that Turkish contracting companies focus on. It is estimated that infrastructure projects investments in Africa are estimated annually at about $ 170 billion.

Turkish companies focus their investments in Africa on prominent sectors, including: building and construction, infrastructure, wholesale and retail trade, clothing and textiles, energy, and metal industries. However, the building, construction and infrastructure sector is the owner of the largest share of Turkish investments in Africa, and the work of Turkish contractors in Africa is estimated at 20% of their total foreign business worldwide.

Turkish investments during the period from 2010 to 2019 were concentrated in Africa in a group of countries, including Algeria, Ethiopia, Senegal, Libya, Guinea, Mozambique, Gabon, Nigeria, Congo, Rwanda, Tunisia and Cameroon.

Among the most prominent projects implemented by Turkish companies in Africa are the establishment and management of an international airport in both Ivory Coast and Tunisia, the establishment of a cement factory in Gabon and the Ivory Coast, an iron factory in Algeria, a group of large hotels in Algeria, Gabon and Rwanda, and a group of highways in Senegal, power plants in Libya, and desalination plants in Gabon.

The Turkish presence is no longer limited to Somalia, Kenya and Sudan, as there is a state of expansion in the direction to Ethiopia, Niger and other African countries, and this presence includes the management of ports and airports in Somalia, or strong infrastructure projects in Kenya, or industrial projects in Ethiopia, Niger, Chad and Burkina Faso and Mauritania come to compete with the Chinese and French presence in Africa in terms of investment and industrialization.

But at the Arab level, the Turkish presence in Africa represents a strong competition for both the UAE and Saudi Arabia, as Turkey offers African countries development and economic cooperation projects based on mutual benefit, in contrast to the Emirati and Saudi presence, which was characterized by controlling strategic sites and disrupting work in some sites in favor of their own investments in regions. Other.

Turkish civil institutions provided free medical services in 20 African countries (Reuters)

Dimensions of the Turkish presence

The Turkish vision in its strategic goals can be considered to go beyond the concept of regional power, otherwise its efforts would have declined in the Middle East region, which includes the Arab region, Turkey and Iran, but Turkey has a project that goes beyond the concept of regional power, which is what we see from Turkey’s calm performance over the period from 2003 to 2019 by expanding its geographical neighborhood and reviving the axis of Turkish-speaking countries, as well as moving east with the Arab region and reviving its African relations.

The Turkish project in the spaces in which it moves has two important characteristics, namely the developmental character and the human character, two dimensions that are lacking in other projects that exist and work in Africa, where the focus is on depleting the wealth of the African continent and giving little to its people.

In its economic aspect, the Turkish practice reflects a real translation of the concept of partnership, as it usually works to establish real productive projects in African countries, and is keen on having partnerships with citizens of each country, while other projects raise the slogan of participation, and actually go to commercial practices that are usually In the interests of African countries.

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