New Role for Old Relations: Relations between Turkey and the Rest of the World Are Showing Healthy Signs of Economic Development and Growth and Nowhere More Noticeably Than in Africa

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THE MASSIVE INVESTMENT MADE IN AFRICA by Chinese companies over the past few years has been well documented. From oil and mining to dams and housing, mainly state owned Chinese firms now view the continent as an excellent investment opportunity. Yet the parallel influx of Turkish investment has been largely overlooked, with Turkish firms now active in almost every country and every sector. The big difference, however, is that Turkey's involvement is being driven by private sector ambition rather than as an arm of government diplomatic policy, as in the case of China.

Memorandum of Understanding

Examples of Turkish interest and investment are being registered across the map of Africa. In September, Hakan Mining and Generation Industry signed a deal with the government of Rwanda to construct a 100 MW peat fired power plant and associated peak production project in the south of the country at a cost of 220m [euro]. The scheme will greatly reduce Rwanda's reliance on power imports. A delegation from the Turkish Steel Exporters Association and representatives of the country's steel industry visited neighbouring Tanzania in the same month. It is planned that Turkish firms will export semi-processed steel to Tanzania for use in manufacturing. Also in East Africa, Kolin Insaat Turizm Sanayii Ve Ticaret has won a contract to tarmac a major highway in Uganda.

In the west of the continent, Ankara has signed a memorandum of understanding with the government of Gambia over cooperation in the tourism sector. Turkey has been one of the fastest growing markets for European tourists over the past decade, while the Gambian economy is also heavily reliant on European visitors. Turkey will provide advice on developing tourist resorts and a skilled workforce, while Gambia will also be promoted as a tourist destination to Turkish holidaymakers. Turkish Airlines (THY) is banking on its African operations to generate much of its growth over the next decade. The company now flies to 18 African destinations and eight of the new 18 routes that it is launching this year are to African cities. THY general manager Temel Kotil said: "Africa is increasingly important for Turkey and THY. We are aiming to become the leading carrier in the continent."

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African trade increase

Further north, relations between Turkey and Egypt have improved since the overthrow of Egypt's former leader, Hosni Mubarak. New Egyptian president Mohammad Mursi was a guest at the annual congress of Turkey's ruling party, the Islamist Justice and Development Party (AKP), at the start of October. A spokesperson for the International Strategic Research Organisation (USAK) in Turkey commented: "There are common interests in areas of achieving regional stability, spreading democracy and confronting extremism." Cairo is also keen to attract investment from Turkish companies in an effort to stabilise its shaky economy. An estimated $850m worth of contracts were signed by Turkish companies in Egypt when Erdogan took 290 Turkish business leaders on a tour of North Africa last year.

The value of all Turkish exports to Africa is expected to increase from $3bn in 2010 to $10bn this year. To take one example, the value of bilateral trade between Ghana and Turkey increased from $175m in 2009 to $440m in 2011 and is forecast by the Ghanaian government to reach $1bn by 2015. …