“Turkey's win-win policy in Africa: A policy of mutual empowerment based on equality, transparency and sustainability”
Turkey has long-standing historical and cultural relations with the African continent, dating back centuries. 1998 is a significant milestone for Turkey-Africa relations. This year, Turkey launched “Africa Opening Action Plan”. Throughout the last two decades, relations with Africa constitute one of the prime orientations of Turkish foreign policy.
Being at the crossroad of Europe, Asia and Africa, Turkey’s policy of opening up to Africa is not just the reflection of a transient economic expectation. On the contrary, it is the product of a process with strong historical and cultural aspects. It is, foremost, the expression and natural result of the firm feelings of friendship and partnership between Turkish and African peoples.
Turkey developed “Strategy for the Development of Commercial and Economic Relations with African Countries” in 2003. Main components of this strategy are promoting trade and direct investments, providing technical assistance, transfer of technology and sharing knowledge and experience.
The year of 2005 was declared as the “Year of Africa” in Turkey.
Turkey targeted to develop economic and commercial relations with Africa and this interest has also shared by the African countries. Turkey-Africa relations have gained a substantial momentum since the declaration of Turkey as a strategic partner of the Continent by the African Union at its 10th Summit in 2008. In the same year, first Turkey-Africa Cooperation Summit was held in İstanbul. “The Istanbul Declaration on Turkey-Africa Partnership: Cooperation and Solidarity for a Common Future” and “Cooperation Framework for Turkey-Africa Partnership”, which was adopted during the First Turkey-Africa Cooperation Summit of 2008 established a follow-up mechanism.
Second Turkey-Africa Partnership Summit was held under the theme of “A New Model of Partnership for the Strengthening of Sustainable Development and Integration” in 2014 in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea. In the same vein, Turkey’s economic and commercial opening up plan to Africa evolved to a Partnership Strategy that would mainly aim the integration of Turkish and African markets and create a business environment conducive to human development.
Turkey's 18-year Africa Initiative Policy has increased economic cooperation, while also bringing political relations to the next level. The experience of Turkish businesspeople has been transferred to the region and it has contributed to the development of African countries.
Turkey has been forging with Africa countries. While Turkey’s engagement with North Africa dates back to the time of the Ottoman Empire, Turkey has started to see more opportunities, particularly with trade and business, with countries south of the Sahara. The Turkish Government’s priority to engage with Africa has helped facilitate the growth of business and trade relations. Turkish SMEs have particularly started to invest as African markets have become more accessible.
The Turkish Government has also used development aid to help facilitate commercial interactions. And the Turkish image and presence has been enhanced by the engagement of private companies, NGOs, and Turkish schools.
Turkish companies are undertaking major infrastructure & superstructure (PPP & BOT) projects (roads, railways, airports, power plants, hotels, housing, conference centers etc.) and producing everything from cement, iron-steel, medicines and clothes to electronics and white goods in African countries.
In addition, Turkey has helped to create a significant number of jobs in Africa, unlike some other partnering countries who bring their own workers to Africa. Human trafficking between Turkey and Africa has also increased. The number of Africans from Africa to Turkey has increased fourfold.
In order to build on existing relations, there is a need for more Turkish-African cooperation in the energy, digitalization, services, security and health sectors.
The trade volume between Turkey and Africa which stood at 5,4 billion USD in 2003, reached 25,4 billion USD in 2020 despite the impediments brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Since 2003, as Prime Minister and then President, Turkish President H.E. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has visited 27 African countries, more than any other non-African leader. These visits have driven both economic and political connections.