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Erdogan eyes offers at Turkey-Africa summit

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan kicked off a whistle-stop tour of African international locations on Monday, assembly leaders and traders in Angola, Nigeria and Togo forward of a Turkey-Africa commerce summit on Thursday.

The Turkey-Africa Financial and Enterprise Discussion board, held in Istanbul from 21-22 October, goals to supply a platform for Turkish companies to realize a foothold on the continent.

Organised by the Turkish authorities and African Union, Rwakakamba Morrison, the chairman of Uganda’s Funding Authority known as it a chance to “meet up with potential traders right here in Istanbul.”

The primary day of the 2 day summit will see Turkish and African ministers of commerce, funding, expertise and logistics maintain closed door conferences on ‘Deepening Turkey-Africa Partnership’.

The agenda for day one additionally schedules bilateral conferences with enterprise leaders and ministers, in addition to panel discussions on rising alternatives in agriculture, healthcare and the brand new regional free-trade zone – the African Continental Free Commerce Space (AfCFTA).

The second day of the discussion board will host periods selling innovation, Turkish-African banking cooperation, commerce finance and girls’s management.

The final version of the biannual occasion launched in 2016 was held on-line in October 2020 because of the pandemic.

Battle for hearts and minds

Since 2009, Ankara has engaged with African international locations, massive and small, at feverish pace, with Erdogan’s overriding ambition on the continent pushed by commerce and funding, says Tim Ash, an rising markets economist at BlueBay Asset Administration.

Throughout a go to to Angola on Monday, the Turkish president mentioned there have been vital bi-lateral alternatives within the power and defence sectors, with seven offers signed thus far between the 2 international locations.

“For fairly a very long time Turkey has been very Africa focussed. Beneath Erdogan, Turkey embassies have expanded massively globally as a part of their effort to spice up commerce and funding,” Ash says.

That constructing spree has taken the variety of Turkish embassies in Africa from a dozen in 2009 to 43 at this time. This yr, it’ll open its 44th, in Guinea-Bissau.

The variety of Turkish embassies in Africa has elevated from 12 in 2003 (international locations shaded darkish crimson on map) to 43 in 2021.

Erdogan’s overseas coverage can be moulded by efforts to counter the rising affect of rival Islamic powers in Africa such because the UAE and Egypt.

With sturdy historic buying and selling hyperlinks, the UAE has change into an more and more important associate for the continent, and its second-largest investing nation, second solely to China, based on the Monetary Instances’ fDI Intelligence.

Ankara’s allegiance with Qatar has pitted Turkey towards Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the UAE in a “battle for hearts and minds” on the continent, Ash says.

Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the UAE are fiercely against the Muslim Brotherhood and its related model of political Islam, Ash says. Doha and Ankara have offered help for the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and backed rebels preventing to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

This has manifested itself in Turkey’s sweeping investments in schooling tasks on the continent, constructing 17 faculties in Nigeria alone.

“Turkey’s been a giant investor in schooling. Increasing Turkish cultural-religious affect as a conduit to boosting Turkish commerce,” Ash says.

Africa additionally represents an enormous success story for Erdogan as Turkey’s vacationer financial system weathers a battering from Covid-19, Ash says.

“Erdogan has large issues at residence, the financial system’s not doing nicely and and Africa has been one among that has been comparatively profitable for him by way of enterprise and commerce. So he in all probability desires some good picture shoots of him shaking fingers and doing stuff in Africa.

As Turkey’s relations with Europe unravel, Ankara has been eager to diversify its commerce away from Europe. Two-thirds of Turkey’s commerce funding financing comes from Europe, however amid political tensions Erdogan has tried to kindle commerce ties elsewhere, beginning with the Center East. Souring relations with Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt, and a deteriorating regional safety state of affairs refocussed the president’s sights on the continent.

“Africa has been a comparatively low hanging fruit, with much less geopolitical issues. So Africa is a part of this diversification ploy,” Ash provides.

Commerce between Turkey and Africa has ballooned from $5.5bn in 2003 to greater than $25.three billion by 2020, regardless of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Africa has been very useful for Turkish corporations, manufactured merchandise, meals, its been a giant market, they’ve additionally been a conduit of transit commerce and travellers from Africa.”

Right this moment, Turkish fingerprints are throughout Africa, from the Kigali Enviornment in Rwanda, east Africa’s greatest stadium, constructed by a Turkish development agency, to an Olympic swimming pool in Senegal, a colossal mosque in Djibouti and Turkish army {hardware} on Libya’s battlefields. However whereas most African international locations have welcomed the brand new partnership, consultants marvel in regards to the long-term ambitions behind Erdogan’s Africa technique. 

The Turkey-Africa Financial and Enterprise Discussion board takes place from the 21-22 October within the Istanbul Congress Heart.

Further reporting by Charlie Mitchell.

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