Erdogan seeks economic, military ties in Turkey-Africa Summit
Turkey seeks to expand economic and military ties with Africa, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday in remarks during a major Turkey-Africa summit in Istanbul.
Heads of state from 16 African nations, along with more than 102 ministers and representatives of the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States are attending the summit in Istanbul.
Erdogan said that Turkey remains committed to supporting Africa emphasizing deep ties that go back to 19th century with the African continent.
Equality not imperialism
"Our cooperation is based on equality, not imperialism or orientalism," said Erdogan on Saturday at a ceremony held for foreign dignitaries on the final day of Third Turkey-Africa Partnership Summit in Istanbul.
Erdogan added that both Turkey and Africa should strive to be great together fighting a place at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) in the future.
"There is 1.3 billion people live in Africa and this continent is not represented at the UNSC, that is huge flagrant of injustice," Erdogan said urging to join forces and to deepen relations even further.
Trade and investments
He highlighted, "Our trade with Africa was $5.4 billion in 2020 and investments for this year stands at $6 billion," adding that Turkish companies currently employ around 25,000 Africans throughout continent.
Erdogan said vaccine inequality and injustice towards Africa is a disgrace and must stop.
He committed that 15 million doses of Turkey’s TurkoVac will first be shared with Africa and that Turkey will continue supplying medical aid and equipment.
Turkey will soon start production of its first locally made Covid-19 vaccine, TurkoVac, and will cooperate with Africa in joint production and delivery of the vaccine.
Urging strong cooperation between Africa and Turkey against terrorism, the chairman of the African Union said that maintaining peace and security on the continent is imperative for achieving sustainable development.
Addressing the third Turkey-Africa Partnership Summit, Felix Tshisekedi, who is also the president of the Democratic Republic of Congo, affirmed Africa's trust in Turkey's expertise in various sectors, saying: "Africa needs concrete projects in the areas of trade, infrastructure, agricultural development, governance, and health."
"In some parts of Africa, unfortunately, there is instability and insecurity due to terrorist activities. Therefore, it is a must to ensure peace and security in order to move forward," he said, stressing the need for cooperation against terrorism.
Solution for global issues
Meanwhile, African Union Commission Chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat said: "Our partnership with Turkey concerns not only Africa but the whole world. Our partnership will bring solutions to major global problems."
Noting the investments of many Turkish firms in different African countries, Mahamat said that bringing that partnership to a strategic level would be a solution for major global issues.
The third Turkey-Africa Partnership Summit is a follow-up of events held in 2008 in Istanbul and 2014 in Equatorial Guinea's capital Malabo under the same banner.
The summit took place under the theme “Enhanced Partnership for Common Development and Prosperity”.
16 heads of state
Some 16 African heads of state who attended the summit, include Félix Tshisekedi, current chair of the African Union, Senegal’s Macky Sall, Ghana’s Nana Akufo-Addo, representing Ecowas, Rwanda’s Paul Kagame, Zimbabwe’s Emmerson Mnangagwa and Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria.
They were accompanied by 102 ministers, including 26 foreign ministers, from 39 countries.
The two-day summit agenda reviewed cooperation between Turkey and African countries since the Second Summit and drawing a framework for the partnership process going forward.
The summit will provide guidelines for Turkish cooperation with Africa for the next five years, with projects that will directly involve the private sector being decided, according to 3rd Turkey-Africa Partnership Summit Coordinator Ambassador Can İncesu.
A joint declaration and an action plan for the next five years was unveiled at the summit including concrete steps in various areas such as development, trade, industry, education, informatics, women, youth, infrastructure, agriculture, and health.
The AU says that the Summit is expected to adopt a “Turkey-Africa Partnership Joint Action Plan 2021-2026″ containing concrete actions to be implemented jointly by Turkey, the AU and its Member States.
The Third Turkey-Africa Partnership Summit follows recent intense diplomatic moves by Turkey aimed at boosting ties with the continent.
In October, Istanbul hosted business leaders and dozens of ministers from African states for a summit aimed specifically at increasing trade.
Ankara’s presence has grown rapidly on the continent under President Erdoğan, who has visited many African countries.
The volume of bilateral trade between Turkey and Africa rose from $5.4bn in 2003 to $25.3bn in 2020.
Over the same period, Turkish foreign direct investment in the continent grew from $100m to $6.5bn, and Turkish companies have become increasingly present across Africa.
The main sectors for Turkish trade and investment are construction, steel and cement, followed by textiles, household goods and electronic devices.
In its dealings with Africa Turkey has presented itself as a friend of the continent free of the exploitative and racist baggage of former colonial powers.