At the Turkey-Africa Partnership Summit 2021, representatives of Turkey and African nations discussed how to cooperate to deliver “Enhanced Partnership for Common Development and Prosperity” across crucial sectors such as health care, education, and agriculture – all of which Turkey is a world leader. It is a demonstration of how international cooperation is fundamental to solving global problems. This year’s theme is appropriate because never before have the notions of "development" and "prosperity" been challenged and redefined as they have with climate change and health being so central to global welfare.
Over the past 20 years, Turkey’s economy has been one of the fastest growing in the world. This is no surprise – geographically, it is a bridge between Europe, Asia and North Africa, but most importantly it has maintained a consistently high level of quality in its investment decisions – investments that grow the Turkish economy and deliver quality jobs and improve the fabric of the community. Turkey has an ambitious and advanced private sector supported by its government – a system that puts people and the economy first, together. This is what our organization, the Africa Investment Forum (AIF) is trying to replicate, and we need Turkey’s support, cooperation and investment to deliver on our ambitions.
At the core of all economies are decisions made by the private sector. Countries across Africa need investment from the global community of companies, banks and philanthropists at least as much as they need political cover and development assistance. This is why the AIF is scrutinizing and shortlisting deals across Africa that meet specific criteria, including a positive environmental and social impact.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic struck, Africa was home to the world’s five fastest growing economies. The continent also has the fastest growing population and possesses an overwhelming proportion of critical resources needed by the present and future global economy. This leads to a fundamental reality, which all investors and policymakers must understand. Only with Africa’s important minerals, fertile agriculture and human power can the rest of the world meet its carbon reduction targets while also maintaining and improving living standards. Above all other of Earth’s continents, Africa has the most growth potential and will be the home of a great majority of the world’s future economic assets, including factories, farms, mines, banks, powerplants, fintech companies and, most importantly, people.
Balancing these demands is why it is vital investment into Africa is done with high-quality decision making that meets targets across social welfare, sanitation, agriculture, climate change and a great many others. Developed countries such as Turkey have the resources to change their infrastructure and systems to reach these targets, but most African countries must grow into green, sustainable and modern economies from scratch while also improving living standards and managing rapidly rising populations. This challenge is considerable, but we are working hard to meet it by continuously exploring opportunities to give investors a reliable entry point. In return for the business intelligence provided by the AIF, the projects we list across the continent need an investment of both cash and human capital. These are brilliant opportunities for Turkish investors but also vital to the common development and prosperity of Africa.
This is not just development theory: A great example of the AIF’s high-quality work is the ongoing development of a manufacturing plant in North Africa to produce advanced solar panels, which provide an integrated source of renewable energy, clean water and hot sanitation water. The project is expected to contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 42 million tons of CO2 per year and to ultimately supply electricity to more than 100 million households. It is a remarkable example of how innovation is key to providing the solutions we need. With Turkish investment, more projects like this can succeed and bring rewards for the African and Turkish people alike.
This is also not just a success story; rather, it underlines the entire approach needed to achieve economic growth while also continuing the historic expansion of basic human provisions in Africa. Both investors and African governments alike need to be wary of cheap and easy deals that seem reasonable on the surface but have not received the level of thorough inspection needed at the macro-economic perspective, which only neutral, multilateral organizations can perform.
It is encouraging that Turkey has such interest in the development of Africa and continues to play such an important role in the continent’s economic expansion and in solving a multitude of challenges, many of which Turkey faces too. With Turkey’s investment and cooperation, nations across Africa can pursue a new model for investment that properly integrates financial viability with human needs. This is what the AIF is doing and everyone else should be too.