Turkey sees in Africa friends and brothers, not diamonds, Erdoğan says
Cihan News Agency (CNA)
January 08, 2013
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan goes to Niger as part of his Africa tour. Nigerien President Mahamadou Issouffou welcomes Erdoğan with an official ceremony. AA photo
İSTANBUL (CİHAN)- Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has directed veiled criticism at Africa`s Western colonizers and said Turkey is not one of the countries that sees diamonds and gold when it looks at the impoverished continent. “Contrary to others, we see our common history, we see only friends and brothers when we look at Africa,” Erdoğan said in an address to Gabon`s parliament on Monday. “We intended to end for good the yearning, aloofness and distance between brothers. ... We are supporting Africa that is rising, and we are mobilizing every power we have for [delivering] humanitarian aid.”
Erdoğan, joined by a delegation of more than 250 businessmen, visited Gabon as the first stop on a tour of Africa that is set to include Niger and Senegal. The visit is part of the government`s aspirations to widen its economic and political influence in Africa, a continent widely neglected before Erdoğan`s Justice and Development Party (AK Party) first came to power a decade ago.
While in Gabon, Erdoğan also inaugurated the Turkish Embassy building in Libreville. Over the past three years alone, Turkey has opened 19 embassies across Africa. Turkey has embassies in 31 countries in Africa, 26 of which are sub-Saharan African countries, Erdoğan said, adding that the number will increase to 34 in the coming years.
The prime minister said those who exploited Africa`s natural riches and even its population in the form of slavery will sooner or later be held accountable for what they did. “There is a very meaningful saying here in Africa that when the flood comes, fish eat the ants and when the flood recedes, ants eat the fish. No one should rely on their current might and superiority because who eats whom depends on the flow of water,” he said. “This ancient land, Africa, where the humanity was born but was then massacred by the greedy, will sooner or later rise again and lead humanity.” Erdoğan said Turkey is a country built on the legacy of the Ottoman Empire, which was the symbol of peaceful coexistence in Africa for centuries. “The Ottoman Empire never acted on imperialist ambitions. It rejected outright imperialism. It never interfered with the language, beliefs, culture or lifestyle of any country and it never was like those who exploited the riches of other countries.” He also said Turkish contractors could well meet Gabon`s need for housing, about 20,000 houses per year, and thus transform the face of Gabon. The businessmen delegation accompanying Erdoğan included 175 entrepreneurs, whose companies have a combined annual revenue of $65 billion.”They are with us on this visit in particular because we want to encourage them to invest in Gabon,” he said.
In Gabon, Erdoğan met with President Ali Bongo Ondimba and his Gabonese counterpart, Prime Minister Raymond Ndong Sima, and signed cooperation agreements. Erdoğan began his visit to Niger on Tuesday.
In parallel with the government`s drive to reach out to Africa, the total amount of Turkish exports to Africa increased 31.4 percent in 2012 compared to figures for 2011, reaching $12.1 billion. Turkey`s market share in Africa also rose to 8.7 percent from 7.5 percent in 2011. The greatest contribution to this increase came from trade with North African countries. Of the $12.1 billion in Turkish exports to Africa in 2012, $8.6 billion were to North African.
Turkish influence in Africa has also expanded thanks to an increasing number of Turkish schools in West Africa, strengthening the cultural bonds between Turkey and the African continent. On Monday, a group of Gabonese students from a Turkish school in Gabon sang the Turkish and Gabonese national anthems as the Turkish flag was hoisted in front of the newly opened Turkish Embassy building.
In addition to stepping up economic relations, Turkey has developed very successful political relations with African countries over the last decade. As an influential soft power, Turkey mediated between the Sudanese government and the newly independent South Sudan in 2005 as well as between Ethiopia and Eritrea after a bloody war between the two came to an end in 2000. Located in the Gulf of Guinea, Gabon has extensive oil fields. Niger already exports oil to Turkey, albeit in small amounts. Niger is also an important source of uranium. Senegal, Erdoğan`s last stop on his African tour, plays a key role in maintaining the balance of political power in West Africa. Erdoğan`s visit will strengthen Turkey`s bonds with the country, an influential actor in its region.
© Copyright 2013 Cihan News Agency. All Rights Reserved.
Turkey and Africa
Cihan News Agency (CNA)
January 10, 2013
Turkey`s Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan (L) speaks to the media as Senegal`s President Macky Sall looks on during a meeting between the two heads of state at the presidential palace in Dakar January 10, 2013. REUTERS
İSTANBUL (CİHAN)- Turkey`s Africa opening initiative launched in 2005 gained new momentum this week with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan`s three-country visit to Africa. Traveling to Gabon, Niger and Senegal with a large group of Turkish businessmen, Erdoğan stressed Africa`s strategic importance for Turkey. This is a result of the ongoing diversification of Turkey`s foreign policy. But it is also a testament to Africa`s rising significance in the 21st century. Turkey is no stranger to Africa. It has a long history of relations with countries stretching from North Africa to the Sahel region. In a quiet but steady way, Turkey is again establishing strong relations with Africa.
High-level visits, diplomatic relations, investment and trade, cultural and educational programs, scholarships and the work of the Turkish Cooperation and Development Agency (TİKA), and Turkish NGOs have changed the old parameters of relations between Turkey and the African continent. Until recently, Turkey had 12 diplomatic missions in Africa. It now has 31 and will soon open three more. Likewise, many African countries are opening embassies in Ankara. The African Union declared Turkey a “strategic partner” in 2008, the same year Turkey hosted the first Turkey-Africa Cooperation Summit, attended by 53 countries. The second strategic forum will be held this year. Turkey was also the host of the fourth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries (LDC), to which it has dedicated considerable resources for the next 10 years. Thirty-three African countries are among the LDC.TİKA has eight offices across Africa and will open a new one in Niger. Across Africa, TİKA implements projects in such areas as health, agriculture, animal husbandry, education and training, capacity-building, well-drilling, clean water, etc. Turkey has completed projects in over 30 countries in Africa.
Turkey, which supported the Arab revolutions in North Africa, has strong political and economic relations with Tunisia, Libya and Egypt as well as other North African countries. But Turkey is also reaching out to countries beyond the northern rim. In Somalia, Turkey led an international aid campaign to help Somalia in one of its worst moments in modern history. By mobilizing its resources to fight against famine and disease and calling on the international community for help, Turkey drew the world`s attention to the deepening crisis in Somalia. After a year and a half of work, Somalia still faces major challenges, including the effects of the civil war, the absence of a strong, central government and poor infrastructure. But it is certainly a better country compared to two years ago. As one journalist put it, Turkey is not simply aiding Somalia; it is “building a new country” there.
Turkish businesses are also increasing their investment and trade in Africa. In 2002, Turkey`s total trade with Africa was about $2 billion. By 2012, it exceeded $17 billion. Business associations such as the Turkish Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges (TOBB), the Turkish Confederation of Businessmen and Industrialists (TUSKON), the Independent Industrialists and Businessmen`s Association (MÜSIAD) and the Turkish Exporters Assembly (TİM) have established strong economic relations with various African countries. They organize dozens of business meetings in Turkey and Africa every year, providing new opportunities for joint investment and economic cooperation.
The first Turkey-Africa Media Forum, held in May 2012 in Ankara, brought together over 300 African journalists from 54 African countries. The Anatolia news agency, Turkey`s official news agency, directly covers important events in all of the major capitals of Africa. Turkish Airlines (THY) flies to 30+ cities in more than 20 African countries. It is not possible to talk about Africa without talking about political justice or, rather, the lack thereof. Africa has been colonized, exploited, enslaved, violated. New manifestations of colonialism, brute capitalism, home-grown civil wars provoked by outsiders, deep corruption, underdevelopment, poverty, epidemics and a host of other problems are ravaging Africa. While sleeping on vast natural resources and a young, dynamic population, African countries are performing way below their true potential. But none of these is a reason to brush off Africa as a strategic and economic partner.
Many parts of Africa were once centers of trade, production, culture and art. It can rise again as a land of peace and prosperity. Some African countries are already embracing political stability, pluralism and sustainable development. Yes, Africans themselves need to do more, but the rich countries of the world, the UN, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and other international agencies can help Africa stand on its feet. Instead, political and economic exploitation continues in new forms and at various levels. What Africa needs is not pity, but fairness and opportunity. Developing partnerships based on respect, equality and mutual interest will go a long way in overcoming the vicious circle of exploitation, poverty and underdevelopment in Africa.
© Copyright 2013 Cihan News Agency. All Rights Reserved.
Erdogan to Gabon Prime Minister: “We build the best dams for Gabon”
January 08, 2013
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan attended a flag-hoisting ceremony at Turkish chancellery building in Libreville, capital of Gabon, on Monday, January 07, 2013
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said bilateral trade volume between Turkey and Gabon stood below 50 million USD, adding that the two countries aimed at increasing the figure to as high as 100 million USD by 2015. Erdogan said a large delegation of Turkish businesspeople accompanied him on his African tour, adding, “together with our investors, we want to launch a new process of change and transformation in Gabon.” Erdogan said Turkey and Gabon could cooperate in construction of dams, natural gas production and establishing natural gas grids, adding that Turkey`s state-run air carrier, the Turkish Airlines, would soon launch direct flights to Gabon during a joint press conference with his Gabonese counterpart Raymond Ndong Sima in capital Libreville, the first stop of the premier`s three-nation African tour which also includes Niger and Senegal.
Noting that he was being accompanied by 300 Turkish businessmen during his visit to Gabon, Erdogan said that among them, there were 175 entrepreneurs who had 65 billion USD of annual turnover, and 12 billion USD of export as well as 429,000 employees. Erdogan said that Turkish Airlines (THY) would begin Istanbul-Libreville flights in the end of this month, adding that Gabon would be connected to all countries in the world. Erdogan said that Turkey only saw common history, friendship and brotherhood in Africa on the contrary to other countries which saw diamonds, golds, mines and underground richness in this continent. Erdogan said that Gabon attached importance in opening of Turkish embassy in Libreville, and Gabonese presidency allocated a land for Turkey to build the embassy. Noting that the embassy building would be constructed soon, Erdogan said that Turkey increased the number of its embassies in Africa to 31 in recent years.
© DIA. Bütün haklari saklidir.
Turkey seeks influence in Africa; Sub-Saharan focus
By Daniel Dombey in Istanbul
January 07, 2013
Turkey`s Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan (L) with Senegal`s Prime Minister Abdoul Mbaye
Ankara moves away from European markets and aims at more prominent world role, writes Daniel Dombey
Selim Bora had never been south of the Sahara before the call came to design and build the conference centre for an African Union summit in just six months.
But a week later the 43-year-old Turkish businessman was in Equatorial Guinea. His family-owned company, Summa, built the 13,000-square-metre complex in time for the 2011 AU summit in Malabo.
“We had no clue about the country when we went there,” Mr Bora says. “We had to figure it all out.”
His story is part of a concerted push by Turkey deep into Africa, as it follows China , Brazil and India in seeking to secure economic and political influence on the continent.
As Ankara looks to diversify away from the stuttering European economy, it is searching not only for new markets but also a more prominent role on the world stage. In the past three years, Turkey has opened 19 new embassies on the continent. It now has 26 south of the Sahara and will have opened new delegations in Chad, Guinea and Djibouti by the end of this month, as Recep Tayyip Erdogan, prime minister, visits Gabon, Niger and Senegal.
Turkish officials identify Somalia , where the country has established a large on-the-ground presence, as a measure of its commitment. Mr Erdogan became in 2011 the first non-African leader in almost two decades to visit Somalia.
“The aim is to develop ties, to close gaps, to go to places where we have never been,” says a Turkish official. Travelling to the region is becoming easier.
Last month, Turkish Airlines, a 49 per cent state-owned company, announced the start of direct flights to Niamey, Ouagadougou, Yaoundé and Douala, bringing the number of destinations in sub-Saharan Africa to 24. Underpinned by such diplomatic and transport ties, Ankara`s commerce with sub-Saharan Africa jumped from $742m in 2000 to almost $7.5bn in 2011.
Today, Mr Bora says, the region accounts for 40 per cent of his group`s business - total revenues are $300m a year - and he wants to develop ties with countries ranging from Niger to Angola. He adds that the Turkish construction sector as a whole is expanding from north Africa to the oil and gas rich countries of western Africa.
He highlights Turkish executives` willingness to work in challenging or unusual circumstances, including for regimes such as Equatorial Guinea, which was criticised for spending €500m on the summit complex and carried out arrests before the event.
“For us, it`s really the same, regardless of the regime, regardless of the geographical conditions, regardless of the climactic conditions,” Mr Bora says. “For us the important thing is to get the job done.”
Such projects have broader economic consequences, as well.
In a recent Financial Times interview, Erdem Basci, the governor of Turkey`s central bank, grouped Africa together with Russia and the Middle East as a region with a fast-growing appetite for imports that could help Turkey diversify away from the EU. “Our businessmen are extremely rapid and flexible moving into these markets,” he said.
Some of Turkey`s links with Africa are not Ankara`s doing. Schools associated with Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish preacher, have been set up across the continent. Tuskon, a Turkish business organisation also sympathetic to Mr Gulen, has cultivated many company-to-company ties.
But Sinan Ulgen, a former Turkish diplomat now at Carnegie Europe, says the drive started in earnest when Turkey began its successful campaign to be elected to the UN Security Council for 2009-10.
With 55 countries, Africa represents more than a quarter of all UN members: a potential repository of votes for a state willing to invest politically in the region. Mr Ulgen depicts Turkey`s stance as a halfway house between the EU and China.
It does not tie aid to governance conditions but sees the relationship as more than merely economic. Its aid agency, which delivered more than $150m to countries in sub-Saharan Africa last year, says denying aid to human rights violators risks punishing those most in need of help.
Mr Ulgen cautions that the biggest danger for Turkey is to promise too much: Ankara`s $800bn economy cannot match the resources of Brussels or Beijing.
Moreover, commerce with sub-Saharan Africa still represents only a fraction of Turkey`s $376bn overall trade. While Arcelik, a Turkish white-goods manufacturer, acquired Defy, a South African equivalent, for $325m in 2011, most of the country`s investments in the region are considerably smaller.
Nevertheless, Turkey`s businessmen and politicians are increasingly looking to Africa.
Erbil Oksuz, a Turkish construction subcontractor who has been working in Uganda for a year, complains about health risks and the entrenched position of Chinese companies. However, he enthuses about the country`s infrastructure needs and its discovery of oil. “It is worth the effort . . . Africa is riskier but we make more money,” he says. “More Turks are coming.”
Additional reporting by Funja Guler
© Copyright 2013 The Financial Times Ltd. All rights reserved.
Turkey seen showing economic interest in West Africa
BBC Monitoring European
January 06, 2013
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan`s new interest in visiting West African countries demonstrates Turkey`s increasing economic interest in the African continent and will further promote the activities of Turkish businessmen and investors there, Turkish experts say.
Accompanied by a delegation of more than 250 businessmen, Erdogan began his trip to three West African countries in Gabon on Sunday. He will travel to Niger and Senegal next.
The businessmen with him come from a range of sectors, from agriculture to mining, but the construction sector is best represented, according to the Turkish Exporters Assembly (TiM). The assembly has also confirmed the energy sector is well represented and oil trade issues are expected to be discussed during the business meetings that would be held in each of the three countries.
Erdogan`s West African tour is seen as an important part of Turkey`s policy of further developing relations with African nations. The main focus of his meetings will be on strengthening economic relations with Africa, a Turkish official told Sunday`s Zaman on condition of anonymity.
“The fact that the meeting will be the first diplomatic visit of 2013 can be interpreted as a sign of the importance Turkey places on Africa,” the official added.
The prime minister`s visit will pave the way to new opportunities for Turkish businessmen, Ali Engin Oba, head of international relations department at Mersin`s cag University and vice president of the Turkish-Asian Centre for Strategic Studies (TASAM), stated in remarks to Sunday`s Zaman.
“Such official visits will be beneficial because Turkish businessmen will take trade offers and get involved in the development of infrastructure on the African continent,” Oba said.
As a former ambassador who has served in a number of African countries, Oba explained that because African political leaders have a lot of influence across the continent, relations developed with African leaders during Erdogan`s visit will facilitate economic and political relations throughout the continent.
The total amount of Turkish exports to Africa increased 31.4 per cent in 2012 compared to figures for 2011, reaching $12.1 billion, according to a press statement released by Economy Minister Zafer Caglayan on Dec. 28. Turkey`s market share in Africa also rose to 8.7 per cent from 7.5 per cent in 2011.
The greatest contribution to this increase came from trade with North African countries. Of the $12.1 billion in Turkish exports to Africa in 2012, $8.6 billion were to North African countries.
Energy trade to be discussed during visit
Turkish experts predict that energy will be a topic of discussion during the visits, noting West Africa`s wealth in oil fields.
“Oil issues will be discussed in detail at those meetings. In addition to Brazil and China, Turkey would like to make oil deals with West African countries, a region mostly dominated by US companies,” said Hasan ozturk, a research fellow on Africa with Istanbul-based think tank Wise Men Centre for Strategic Studies (BiLGESAM).
Located on the Gulf of Guinea, Gabon has extensive oil fields. Niger already exports oil to Turkey, albeit in small amounts.
Niger is also an important source of uranium. As Turkey has started construction of its first nuclear power plant in cooperation with Russia and is planning to build two more, Turkey would benefit from strong relations with uranium-rich countries to be able to fuel those plants, ozturk stated.
“Turkey would benefit from [greater ties with] Africa in terms of diversifying its energy sources,” ozturk added.
Located in the Sahel region of Africa, Niger is currently coping with an influx of refugees from politically unstable countries including the Cote d`ivoire, Nigeria and Libya.
Turkey aims to have three nuclear power plants operational by 2023. Ankara inked a $20 billion deal with Russia`s Atomstroyexport for the construction of Turkey`s first nuclear plant in the southern town of Akkuyu back in 2010.
Senegal, Erdogan`s last stop on his African tour, plays an important role in maintaining the balances in West Africa. His visit will strengthen Turkey`s bonds with this country so influential in its region.
Turkey vying for influence in former French colonies
in addition to stepping up economic relations, Turkey has developed very successful cultural and political relations with African countries over the last decade.
As an influential soft power, Turkey mediated between the newly independent South and North Sudan in 2005 as well as between Ethiopia and Eritrea after a bloody war between the two came to an end in 2000.
Additionally, with an increasing number of Turkish schools highly active in West Africa, the cultural bonds between Turkey and the African continent have been strengthened.
These improving relations have created a rivalry between France and Turkey, especially following Turkey`s economic leap forward in Libya. All three countries included on Erdogan`s tour are former French colonies.
Turkey`s increasing interest in Africa, along with that of other rising powers such as China, Brazil and india, is creating an opportunity for African countries rid themselves of the influence of former colonizing powers such as France.
“Certain groups in Africa are already showing efforts to break away from the influence of the big colonizing powers. Those groups are aware of France`s economic problems and could guess that France would not continue its former level of interest in Africa because of those problems. So, they are trying to develop relations with powers that may want to develop economic, social and cultural solidarity with them, including Turkey,” Oba explained.
Oba also noted that Turkish and French interests in Africa are not comparable. Turkey seeks to develop fair economic and political relations with Africa and is not present in Africa as a colonial power, he stated.
Turkey`s policy of further developing relations with Africa dates back to 1988. Turkey made plans to expand relations with Africa at that time, but these plans failed to be implemented due to domestic woes.
A landmark in Turkish-African relations was seen in 2005, when Turkey`s efforts to boost relations with emerging African markets proved successful. The year 2005 was declared the Year of Africa in Turkey, prompting a series of exchanges between Turkey and a number of African countries.
Source: Zaman website, Istanbul, in English 6 Jan 13
© 2013 The British Broadcasting Corporation. All Rights Reserved.