President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's visit to Senegal Tuesday upon the invitation of Senegalese President Macky Sall has helped to improve bilateral economic relations. A number of agreements that Turkish and Senegalese officials signed and the renewed target for the bilateral trade volume were the most highlighted topics during the talks.
A $2 billion iron and steel plant investment by a Turkish firm in the Faleme mine in the West African country was an important project, the two presidents said.
During Erdoğan's visit to Dakar, a stadium project that will be constructed by a Turkish firm in the country for the 2022 Youth Olympic Games was also announced. The construction of the stadium with a capacity for 50,000 spectators will begin in February and is projected to be completed within 17 months.
A Turkish contractor has carried out several major projects in Senegal's capital. Among them are the 35,000-square-meter Dakar Arena, the Dakar Expo Center and the Dakar International Conference Center. The company, together with another Turkish contractor Limak, constructed the Blaise Diagne International Airport in Dakar.
Until now, 29 projects worth $750 million have been contracted to Turkish firms. Some of these projects have started operating, and the rest are still under construction. The Turkish businessmen are expected to take important roles in the construction and mining sectors to expedite the second phase of the Emerging Senegal Plan.
As for bilateral trade, Erdoğan and Sally renewed their bilateral trade target of $1 billion. Erdoğan stressed that the two countries accomplished the 2018 target of $400 million but pointed out that the volume shrank to $300 million in 2019, calling for the need to raise the commercial transactions between the two countries.
According to data from the Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat), the bilateral trade volume between Turkey and Senegal totaled $402 million. The better part of the trade was composed of Turkish exports to the Western African country with $390 million. In the period of January to November 2019, Turkish exports to Senegal were recorded at $263 million. Turkey's purchases of Senegalese goods and products in the same period were calculated at $9.4 million.
Turkey's national flag carrier Turkish Airlines (THY) aims to increase the number of flights to and from Dakar to 21 per week from its current level of eight, aiming to strengthen Dakar's connection with the world.
The Senegalese president also invited Turkish firms to participate in the hydrocarbon exploration and production activities since oil and gas reserves were already discovered in recent years offshore Senegal. The two sides have agreed to expand cooperation in hydrocarbon resources and mining. The parties also discussed enhancing defense cooperation. Senegal's army bought 25 Turkish-made Ejder Yalçın armored vehicles and four Turkish Ejder TOMA riot control vehicles and displayed them during an Independence Day parade in the capital Dakar in April 2018.
Sall also expressed that Senegal aims to enter the Turkish market and export peanuts and cashews to Turkey after Europe and Asia.
Turkish authorities also signed seven deals, including cooperation in education, aid implementation protocol, disaster management, sports, archiving and issues related to the diaspora. The two parties also agreed on the opening of a new cultural center by Turkey's Yunus Emre Institute which has been carrying out activities in the country for the last three years. Turkey's Kızılay also made a deal with Senegal's Red Cross to open the first regional office in Africa.