LONDON, (The Southern African Times) – The third Turkey-Africa Partnership Summit will take place in Istanbul on 17-18 December.
The summit, which will be hosted by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, is expected to launch a new stage in Turkey’s relations with the African Union and African countries, according to Turkey’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The date of the long-awaited event was announced by Turkish foreign minister Mevlüt Çavusoglu during a visit to Turkey by Moussa Faki Mahamat, chairperson of the African Union Commission, in late September.
Speaking at a news conference on 30 September, Çavusoglu said that Turkey’s approach to Africa is based on the principle of “African solutions to Africa’s problems”.
“We aim to support Africa’s development efforts and increase commercial, cultural and human relations between us,” he said, noting that Turkey had been a strategic partner of the African Union (AU) since 2008.
Referring to the growth in ties between Turkey and Africa over the last two decades, he also noted that the volume of bilateral trade between Turkey and Africa had risen to $25bn by the end of 2020 and that the number of Turkish embassies in Africa had risen from 12 in 2002 to a current figure of 43, with a mission soon to open in Guinea-Bissau.
Ankara’s presence has been growing rapidly on the continent under President Erdoğan.
What began with economic outreach has progressed into a complex Africa policy encompassing business, aid, diplomacy, culture and military support.
Previous editions of the partnership summit were held in 2008 and 2014, in Istanbul and Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, respectively.
The 2008 summit adopted compacts which determined a wide range of primary areas for cooperation.
The 2014 summit led to a Joint Implementation Plan for 2015-2019. The implementation plan was reviewed at a meeting of senior officials in March 2015 and a list of priority projects was drawn up.
In preparation for the coming summit, Turkey has submitted to the AU a report on Turkish-African cooperation between 2015 and 2020 and a five-year action plan for the coming period.
Three editions of the Turkey-Africa Economic and Business Forum have also taken place, with the most recent in Istanbul on 21-22 October 2021.
Turkey aims to double bilateral trade with Africa
Turkey aims to double its bilateral trade volume with Africa to $50bn, President Erdoğan announced at the forum on 22 October.
Ahead of the forum, the president had undertaken a tour of three African countries, meeting leaders and investors in Angola, Nigeria and Togo.
“As Turkey, we reject Western-centred Orientalist approaches to the African continent. We embrace the peoples of the African continent without discrimination,” he said in a speech to the Angolan parliament.
The theme of the forum was “Deepening Turkey-Africa Partnership: Trade, Investment, Technology and Logistics.”
According to the Turkish foreign ministry, it was attended by 2,500 participants from Turkey and 71 countries (including 46 African countries), with 43 high-level speakers, 22 ministers, four deputy ministers and representatives of African regional economic communities among the participants.
“Raising the Turkish-African trade volume to $50bn must be our main goal,” the chairman of Turkey’s Foreign Economic Relations Board (DEIK), Nail Olpak, said in his address on the second day of the forum.
“Signing free trade agreements, agreements to reciprocally strengthen and protect investments, besides cooperation and knowledge-sharing in the fields of industrialisation, agriculture, construction, textiles and health, are our priorities.”
In comments on the sidelines of the forum to Anadolu Agency, the Turkish foreign ministry’s director-general for Africa, Nur Sağman said: “We want to develop together. We want to support [African countries] and be on their side.”
“Everyone will one day realise that without Africa, there cannot be a prosperous world. That’s why we all need to move forward, hand in hand with Africa,” she added.
Referring to the upcoming summit, she said: “It will be an extremely important event. We hope to welcome many heads of state.”