Turkey voiced its support for the flourishing of Africa and stronger ties with the continent on Saturday to mark Africa Day, the anniversary of the foundation of the African Union.
"We fully support efforts in the direction of peace, stability, and development of the African continent, whose influence on the world stage is progressively increasing," said a Turkish Foreign Ministry statement.
"We will continue to develop our cooperation and to extend our solidarity in all areas with African countries and the African Union, in line with our Africa Partnership Policy and within the period leading to the 3rd Turkey-Africa Summit, which is planned to be held in Turkey in 2020," it said.
Africa Day is the annual commemoration of May 25, 1963, the day the African Union was founded.
Various events are also held every year in Turkey as part of Africa Day, the ministry said.
"This year, an iftar dinner was organized as part of Africa Day on Thursday, May 23, at the Presidential Complex, hosted by H.E. Emine Erdoğan, first lady of the Republic of Turkey, with the participation as the guest of honor of H.E. Zeynep Abdi Muallim, first lady of the Federal Republic of Somalia," it said. The new book "African Food Culture," with contributions from spouses of the ambassadors of African countries in Ankara, debuted at the event, the ministry said.
Turkey's opening up to Africa, which dates back to the Action Plan adopted in 1988, took shape in 2005. Since then, the country has focused on comprehensive, long-term policies based on diversifying its relations with the continent. In that sense, the fields of agriculture, water resource management, rural development, health, micro-macro enterprises and security have played pivotal roles in Turkey's economic transactions with Africa.
The Turkish government declared 2005 the Year of Africa. In that sense, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who was prime minister at the time, highlighted the economic potential between Turkey and African countries while speaking to reporters at Ankara's Esenboğa Airport prior to his visit to Ethiopia that year.
In a reciprocal move, the African Union declared Turkey its strategic partner in 2008, and relations between Africa and Turkey gained momentum when the first Turkey-Africa Cooperation Summit was held in the commercial capital Istanbul with the participation of representatives from 50 African countries that year.
economic ties with continent BOOSTEDSupporting the continent in the economic sphere to fend off difficulties that the African countries have encountered in terms of trade and investment, Turkey has made a financial contribution of $1 million to the African Union since 2009 and opened commercial consulates in 26 African capitals. The establishment of the business councils by the Turkish Foreign Economic Relations Council with 19 sub-Saharan countries allows for strengthening the economic partnership between Africa and Turkey.
In accordance with the efforts to establish a contractual basis for mutual economic relations, Turkey signed trade and economic cooperation agreements with 38 African countries. Turkey's trade volume with Africa steadily increased more than threefold as it was only $5.4 billion in 2003; in 2015 the volume exceeded $17.5 billion. Turkish exports to Africa mainly consist of processed food, iron, steel, construction materials, electronic devices and apparel. In turn, Turkey's imported items from the continent include oil, raw materials, minerals and gold.
According to information shared by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the share of African countries in the overall international business volume of Turkish contractors is around 21%, while the share of North Africa is 19%; moreover, Turkish contractors have so far undertaken over 1,150 projects in Africa, which are worth $55 billion.
Additionally, according to a report by the Turkish Foreign Ministry published in October 2015, Turkey's investments in Africa generated 16,593 jobs in 2014 throughout the continent. Moreover, Turkey has seen an influx of African students studying in the country thanks to scholarships provided by the government or through bilateral education agreements with African countries. In this regard, the number of scholarships granted for the education of African students has substantially increased.
Furthermore, Turkish Airlines (THY) flies to 48 destinations in 31 African countries and as a result of these direct flights, cultural and social exchanges have intensified between Turkish and African communities.
In the past few decades, humanitarian aid has been one of the prominent elements in Turkey's African policy. As Turkey has become a leading country on the continent in terms of humanitarian issues, according to the Global Humanitarian Report 2018, Turkey was ranked the top country for humanitarian aid spending. In 2013 and 2014, Turkey also become the third-largest donor in the world. Accordingly, in 2014, regarding the contribution of nongovernmental organizations in the areas of education, health and capacity building, Turkey disbursed $3.3 billion to Africa, which closely corresponds to 0.42 percent of its gross national income.
As a part of Turkey's development aid to Africa, the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TİKA) currently operates on the continent through 15 program coordination offices, and with the help of these offices, technical assistance is provided to African countries.
Along with the activities of TİKA, Turkey also works with international humanitarian organizations, including the World Food Program (WFP) and the World Health Organization (WHO), to provide humanitarian assistance to Africa.