Turkey’s historical and cultural ties with Africa have been instrumental in establishing close relations with the Continent. In the context of our policy of opening up to Africa initiated in 1998, we are determined to improve and develop our political, economic, commercial, and cultural interaction with the African countries.
In this vein, a Strategy on the Development of the Economic Relations with African Countries was prepared by the Undersecretariat for Foreign Trade in 2003 and subsequently 2005 was declared as “the Year of Africa” by the Turkish Government and Turkey was accorded observer status by the Africa Union the same year.
Turkey welcomed the decision of the 10th African Union Summit in January 2008 declaring Turkey as a strategic partner. “Turkey-Africa Cooperation Summit” held with the participation of 49 African countries on 18-21 August 2008, in Istanbul, is considered as the beginning of a steady and sustainable cooperation process.
“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.
Accordingly, the High-Level Officials Meeting was held in 15 December 2010. The Ministerial Level Reviewing Conference was held in 16 December 2011, in Istanbul. Within this framework, the “Second Turkey-Africa Cooperation Summit” will be held in 2014.
Turkey co-chaired with Egypt an “International Donor’s Conference for the Reconstruction and Development of Darfur” in Cairo, on 21 March 2010. During the Conference, Turkey announced a pledge of around 65 to 70 million US Dollars of humanitarian assistance mainly in health, agriculture and education sectors.
Turkey hosted the Istanbul Somalia Conference organized within the UN framework on 21-23 May 2010. The Conference provided an important support for the Djibouti Peace Process and the TFG. The Istanbul Declaration adopted during the Conference constitutes a road map for the settlement of the Somali issue. Turkey hosted second international conference on Somalia on 31 May-1 June 2012 under the theme: “Preparing Somalia’s Future: Goals for 2015”.
Turkey attached great importance and eagerly hosted the Fourth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries, in Istanbul on 9-13 May 2011. The Conference has constituted a significant step forward in addressing the problems confronted by the LDCs and represented the political will and determination of the Heads of State and Government of the member states, the leaders of the International Community and other stake holders.
Relations with Regional Organizations:
In addition to our observer status in the African Union (2005), Turkey has been accepted as a non-regional member of the African Development Bank (2008). Turkish Embassy in Addis Ababa is accredited to the Intergovernmental Authority on Development Partners Forum (IGAD) (2012) and Turkish Embassy in Abuja is accredited to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) (2005).
Furthermore, Turkish Embassy in Dar-es-Salaam is accredited to the East African Community (EAC) (2010); Turkish Embassy in Lusaka is accredited to Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) (2012); Turkish Embassy in Libreville is accredited to Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) (2013).
Bilateral Diplomatic Representation:
Turkey currently has 35 Embassies in Africa of which 30 are in Sub-Saharan Africa. Chad, Guinea, Eritrea and Djibouti are the recent ones that started to function in 2013. There are plans to open additional Embassies in the coming few years. This process has not been one sided as 27 African countries have Embassies in Turkey and 10 African countries have declared their decisions to open Embassies in Ankara.
It is not just about diplomatic representation. We are glad that people to people contacts have also increased as a result of direct flights between Turkey and African countries as well as ever growing numbers of students, businesspeople and tourists travelling mutually.
High Level Visits:
There is also a steady increase in the number of high level reciprocal visits between Turkey and African countries. President Abdullah Gül visited Kenya and Tanzania in 2009, Democratic Republic of Congo, Cameroon and Nigeria in 2010 and Ghana and Gabon in 2011.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s visit to Somalia in August 2011 which was first high level visit to the country by a Head of Government since 1992 saved Somalia from international isolation. Following this visit, Somalia has embarked on a new reconstruction period with the assistance of international community and partners.
Prime Minister Erdoğan also visited Sudan (2005), Ethiopia (2011), South Africa (2011), Gabon (2013), Niger (2013) and Senegal (2013).
Regular visits from African countries at the level of President and Prime Minister are taking place for bilateral talks and on the occasions of multilateral summits. These visits also serve to complete the legal infrastructure of bilateral relations as well as review of current status of bilateral affairs and to prepare road maps for the future course of the bilateral relations.
The Turkish foreign policy towards Africa is not only based on mutually beneficial economic and trade objectives but also incorporates a comprehensive approach which includes development of Africa through technical and project assistance in the fields such as fight against diseases, agricultural development, irrigation, energy and education and regular flow of humanitarian aid.
Turkey’s Major Activities in the Continent:
Turkey has become a leading country in humanitarian activities in the continent ranging from Somalia to Niger and Sudan. Turkish International Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TİKA) Program Coordinator Office in Africa was first opened in Addis Ababa in 2005 and later in Khartoum and Dakar in the years of 2006 and 2007 respectively. TİKA currently operates 9 Program Coordination Offices in Africa and these offices support development projects in their respective regions. TIKA conducts projects in African countries in cooperation with other state departments and Turkish NGOs which focuses on building resilience by improving agricultural production and by training local communities in farming techniques, mainly in the Sahel countries.
Turkey became the fourth-largest donor in 2012. Including the contribution of the Turkish NGOs in the fields of health, education, and capacity building Turkey’s total humanitarian assistance reaches 2 billion US dollars per year. Turkey’s engagement in Somalia is an exemplary case (Turkey has allocated 300 million USD so far).
Africa had a share of %31 from Turkey’s ODA in 2012 which represents an amount of 772 million USD. Somalia came first among the countries who received Turkey’s ODA in 2012 with an amount of 86 million USD.
We attach particular importance to ensuring peace and stability in Africa and contribute to the United Nations missions deployed in the continent. Turkey is currently providing personnel and contributing financially to six of the existing eight UN missions in Africa.
In line with the developing relations, Turkey’s trade volume with the African continent reached 23 billion dollars in 2012. With compare to the level of 2005 (which was 9 billion USD), this number represents an increase of almost threefold.
Turkish Airlines commenced flights to Mogadishu, Kigali, Abidjan, Kinshasa, Djibouti, Nouakchott, Mombasa, Niamey, Ouagadougou, Libreville and Ndjamena in Sub- Saharan Africa, bringing the total number of THY flights in the Continent to 38 destinations.
Within the period between 1972 and 2012, the shares of African countries in the overall international business volume of Turkish contractors were 19.4%.
We have provided 561 scholarships for students from Sub-Saharan Africa for the education year of 2012-2013. Around 200 junior diplomats have attended training programmes organized by the Diplomatic Academy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.