Erdoğan’s African tour: a win-win partnership?

On Sunday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan began his African tour which will take him to Togo, Nigeria and Angola. The visit will marked by trade and security agreements, but it also takes place in a context of tensions involving other powers, in particular France.

This will be the 15th time Erdoğan has stepped on African soil as Turkey’s top leader. As President, he has done several short, but regular, journeys which began in 2004 when he was still Prime Minister, and which saw him visit, among others Ethiopia, Tunisia, South Africa, Libya, Somalia, Niger, Senegal and Ghana. By the time he completes his ongoing visit, he will have been to 30 African countries. These relational approaches are far from unilateral, since one notes, for example, that the last 5 presidential visits received by Turkey are African (Angola, Guinea, Sudan, Ethiopia, DRC).

Erdoğan also received two weeks ago, Moussa Faki, president of the AU Commission. The discussions focused on issues of infrastructural, economic and human development, mediation, culture, trade, and also humanitarian aspects.

In fact, the bilateral trade volume between the two parties has practically increased fourfold in 18 years, going, according to the Turkish Ministry of Commerce, from $ 5.3 bn in 2003 to more than $20 bn today. Turkish investments have also grown in Africa in recent years, going from $ 100m in 2003 to $ 6.5 bn in 2017 (infrastructure, schools, hospitals, etc.). At the same time, the number of Turkish embassies in Africa has increased from 12 to 41.

The arrival yesterday of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan precedes the 3rd Turkey-Africa Cooperation Summit which will be held from October 21 to 22 in Istanbul and which will bring together the 54 countries of the continent through official representatives or the private sector. It will be followed on December 17th by the 3rd Turkey-Africa Partnership Summit.

The multiplication of African embassies in Anatolia and flights between the two destinations will greatly facilitate things. In the meantime, there is talk of reaching a trade volume of half a billion dollars between Turkey and Angola (currently $ 116 m), along with progressing joint counterterrorism initiatives and executing agreements on hydrocarbons and energy with Nigeria, then economic and defense agreements with Togo.

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