By Munira Abdelmenan Awel
ANKARA (AA) - There have been many improvements in Turkish-African relations with the help of Turkish Airlines, which flies to most African countries, Marcel Mulumba Tshidimba, Democratic Republic of Congo ambassador to Turkey told Anadolu Agency.
Tshidimba made the comments ahead of Africa Day which is celebrated every May 25. The then Organization of African Union (OAU) was founded on May 25th, 1963 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. This year will be the 55th anniversary of its establishment, which is now known as the African Union.
Tshidimba is the dean of the Africa Diplomatic Corps in Ankara: "The mission of our group is to get to work together, to negotiate with the Turkish government when it comes to the common interest of the continent."
According to the ambassador, Turkish- African relations are in a good state since the AU summit decided to establish Turkey as a strategic partner to the development of Africa in 2007.
Since then, there have been two Turkish-African summits held in Istanbul and Malabo, the capital city of Equatorial Guinea, in 2008 and 2014 respectively.
"Since these summits, there have been many improvements with the help of Turkish Airlines which started flying to most of our countries, the relationships are becoming stronger and stronger. Mostly in the trade and economy area, many Turkish companies are investing now in Africa. I am talking particularly about sub-Saharan Africa as it is the area where Turkey has been absent for quite a long time," he added.
Tshidimba underlined that Africa's potential in numerous areas was not utilized enough and expressed hope to change this image with Turkey's help because it has the technology and capacity to finance it.
"Without water and electricity there is no industry, so we need those sectors to be developed and we need technical and financial assistance from Turkey mostly in this areas," he added.
"When I first came to Turkey in 2011 to open this embassy, we had only 16 African embassies in Ankara. Today we have 33; that means we have doubled the number. Turkey had also 20-25 embassies in Africa now it has got 39 embassies in Africa which shows our relationship is good," he said.
"The president of Turkey has visited more than 20 countries in Africa since his election in 2014 and he had hosted around 30 heads of state from Africa, out of 54, which is a big number.”
Tshidimba said that the biggest challenges Africa was facing are the instability in numerous areas, and the presence of terrorist organizations which are preventing countries from concentrating solely on economic development.
"We also need to improve the level of knowledge of our people in Africa. For example, when it comes to the Internet, if people cannot use the Internet they will remain illiterate for quite a long time. In the 21st century, we should be able to use these new technologies and communications. So the education sector is where we have the biggest challenge in Africa," he concluded.
The next Turkey-Africa summit will be held in Istanbul in 2019.