Turkey Moving to Become a Major Player in Africa

by Jemal Muhamed

Author: Joséphine Dedet
Affiliations: The Africa Report
Organization/Publisher: The Africa Report /Jeune Afrique Media Group (JAMG)
Date/Place:February 18, 2021/France
Type of Literature: Analysis
Word Count: 800
Keywords: Turkey, Emerging Player, Africa.


While visiting some African countries in 2005, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has set two goals that his country intends to achieve in its relation with African countries: to diversify Turkey’s previously restricted relationship to the Western world and to discover untapped areas to Turkish trade. Although Turkey had a plan to engage with African countries starting in the 1990s, financial and economic instabilities prevented its realization. The coming to power of Erdoğan’s party and the rise of the devout and dynamic Anatolian businesses changed that condition. Turkey is now a big player in Africa, a “strategic partner” of the African Union, and a non-regional member of the African Development Bank with more than $26bn total trade volume with African countries. Turkish Airlines serves 60 African cities while both giant corporations and small-scale businesses are seeking opportunities in the continent. Moreover, Turkey’s major business lobbies, TÜSİAD(Turkish Industry and Business Association) and MÜSİAD(Independent Industrialists and Businessmen Association), and the DEİK (Council for Economic Relations with Foreign Countries) are active throughout Africa. The Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency, TİKA has 22 offices in Africa and finances projects in the construction, agriculture, and health sectors, and also the renovation of buildings from the Ottoman period. In addition to the Turkish drama series, Ankara’s soft power in Africa extends to its generous donations to the construction of hospitals, schools, cultural and educational centers in different countries of the continent. Turkey’s political ties to African countries are established based on non-interference in the internal matters of the countries, advocating ‘African Solutions’ for African problems, and better representation of the continent in international institutions.

By: Jemal Muhamed, CIGA Senior Research Associate

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