By Addis Getachew
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AA) - Turkey's Permanent Representative to the African Union Fatih Ulusoy said relations with Africa have been gathering momentum in recent years.
Ulusoy, also Turkey's ambassador to Ethiopia, spoke to Anadolu Agency ahead of a major Turkey-Africa Ministerial Review Conference -- the second since 2008 -- the year when strategic partnership between Turkey and Africa kickstarted.
The Second Summit at the level of heads of state and government was held in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, in November 2014. The upcoming ministerial meeting in Istanbul on Feb. 12 is therefore a precursor to a 2019 Third Turkey-Africa Summit where the tone and agenda of deliberations would be set.
“This is an even more important occasion for us as this year marks the 10th anniversary of Turkey-Africa partnership,” Ulusoy said adding 19 African nations have been invited of which five will attend the ministerial meeting as observers.
According to the ambassador, one of the issues on the agenda will be taking stock of what Turkey has done for Africa, and exploring ways of further cooperation.
Turkey, he said, has contributed significantly for Africa’s economic development and security, fully sharing African Union’s Agenda 2063.
Turkey has contributed $1 million annually to the African Union.
- Trade and investment
“We are committed to support key priority areas [of the African Union] concerning the development and welfare of the African people.
“We focus our contribution on the areas where we have agreed together with the African side in the Malabo Summit.”
Areas of cooperation, according to him, include trade, investment, peace and security, youth empowerment and technological transfer, rural economy and agriculture, infrastructure, energy, human resources, science and technology as well as tourism and education.
In the area of security, he said, “[…] we made some contribution to AMISOM (African Union Mission in Somalia) and the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF).”
“The trade volume [between Turkey and Africa] stands at $18.8 billion in 2017,” he said. “It shows increase of 12 percent from the previous year.”
These figures, according to the ambassador are positive.
“Turkish EXIM Bank has been providing loans,” he said, adding the value of loans provided stands now at over $800 million.
He added: “Turkish contractors have undertaken 1,150 projects in Africa, worth $60 billion, according to 2016 figures.”
“The FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) from Turkey to Africa is $6.2billion, according to 2016 figures,” he noted.
- Erdogan, the driving force
The ambassador said much of the recent success in Africa-Turkey relations were possible because of a committed stance shown by Turkey’s President Reccep Tayyip Erdogan.
In recent decades, Erdogan is the single world leader who made by far the most visits to Africa.
“The driving force behind Turkey’s efforts in Africa is the vision of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan,” Ulusoy said. “He is the key actor behind Turkey’s Africa vision.
“Since he took over Presidency he has visited Ethiopia, Djibouti, Somalia, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Nigeria, Guinea, Uganda, Kenya, Somalia, Tanzania, Mozambique, Madagascar, Sudan, Chad and Tunisia.”
“This,” Ulusoy said, “shows the attention paid by our president to Africa and I am sure more visits will take place this year.”
According to a statement issued by the African Union, the ministerial meeting will be attended by senior officials of the African Union Commission.