Geeska Afrika Online

Somalia: Turkey's Africa Strategy

Istanbul (HAN) November 22, 2015 – Public Diplomacy, Regional Foreign Trade Developed Strategy  and Stable Investment Initiative Issues. Geeska Afrika Online Editor’s Historical Archives: almost thirty years since the establishment of Geeska Afrika Onlne (1985-2015) and insights about the Turkey’s developing strategic relationship with the Horn of Africa, we are providing new insights into the current state of affairs in the relationship, in the context of the Horn of African Terror attacks, Somali refugee crisis, Somalia emerging market initiatives, Maritime security issues and other related IGAD political and security events that have recalibrated the dynamic.

It is a fundamental principle of Turkish foreign policy that talks are the best way to solve diplomatic problems. A Turkish expert at the Somali institute of Security and Diplomacy (SIRAD) Professor Nour kaafi, MIPIS, agrees and that is the main reason, “Turkey’s engagement with Africa has expanded significantly since 2005”

Turkey Africa Initiative strategy for 2015:

-Africa is now in an impressive surge of growth, urbanization and modernization. The natural and human resources are abundant and diverse. When we examine some basic indicators as follows, we see a re-emerging Africa with many promising developments.

-Once regarded as the byword for ethnic conflict, disease and natural disaster, hardly a month goes by without a high level foreign visits for trade, construction and natural resource deals.

-The Continent has recorded an annual growth rate of 5 percent over the last decade and is expected to continue this trend in the coming years. 6 out of 10 fastest growing economies in the world are in now Africa.

-Economic predictions indicate that Africa will be a 29 trillion USD economy in 2050, larger than the 2012 combined GDP of the US and Eurozone.

-70 percent of the Continent’s people live in countries that posted average growth rates in excess of 4 percent over the past decade. There is a middle class of about 313 million people, 34 percent of the population.

-Trade between Africa and the rest of the world has increased by 200 percent since 2000.

-Most part of this new wealth is because of economic reforms, increased productivity, urbanization and good governance while only a small part of the revenue is derived from usual commodities.

-In social arena as well, we see rapid developments. In 1980, only about 28 percent of Africans lived in cities. Today, 40 percent dwells in urban areas. It is expected to rise to 47 percent by 2025.

-Over the past decade school enrolment in Africa has increased by 50 percent.

-The Continent has made a remarkable progress in its efforts to deepen democracy. Last decade has witnessed a series of successful elections and peaceful transitions of power.

-African countries have recorded significant progress in the field of regional cooperation and integration in pursuit of conflict prevention and economic development.

-The African Union, which celebrated, in 2013, 50th anniversary of its establishment, stands out as a regional and international player.

-We have witnessed significant accomplishments of the African Union in promoting and enhancing good governance, democracy and economic integration across the Continent, and setting higher standards in these areas.

-Along with the African Union, the sub-regional organizations in the continent have proven themselves as important bodies in regional cooperation, mediation and conflict prevention.

-Overall, we are more than pleased to see that African countries, today, are increasing their efforts to overcome their challenges with their own resources and through their own mechanisms, in solidarity.

-All these economic and social trends, which permanently change economic and political landscape of the Continent, also demonstrate the real potential of Africa.

b) Turkey-Africa:

-Relations with Africa constitutes one of the prime orientations of Turkish foreign policy.

-Being an Afro-Eurasian state, Turkey’s policy of opening up to Africa is not just the reflection of a transient political and economic expectation.

-On the contrary, it is the product of a process with strong historical and cultural aspects.

-It is, foremost, the expression and natural result of the firm feelings of friendship and partnership between Turkish and African peoples.

-Turkey-Africa relations have gained a substantial momentum since the declaration of Turkey as a strategic partner of the Continent by the African Union in January 2008.

-Turkey has given further boost to its Africa policy as of 2013. We may describe this period as one wherein relations have been transformed into a mutually reinforced political-economic partnership.

-In this context, Turkey pursues a comprehensive and multilayered policy in Africa. The main tenets of this policy could be summarized as follows:

i) Establishing closer political relations by intensifying bilateral high level visits and, by acting as the voice of Africa, defending the legitimate rights and interests of African countries in our bilateral and multilateral talks.

ii) Supporting them in the economic sphere to overcome their difficulties through trade, investment and humanitarian assistance.

iii) When requested, playing a role through diplomacy in the peaceful settlement of disputes in the Continent.

iv) Providing assistance to the Continent to make further progress in the areas of democracy and good governance.

v) Giving support to the international and regional organizations of the Continent to increase dialogue, understanding and peace in the region.

vi) Participating actively in peacekeeping missions in Africa.

vii) Upholding the principle of “African solutions for African problems” in accordance with the policy of the African Union.


-Turkey has long-standing historical and cultural relations with the African continent, dating back centuries.

-The first state founded by the Turks in Africa was the Tulunids, which ruled today’s Egypt in the 9th and 10th centuries.

-In the subsequent period, the Ottoman Empire prevented colonial expansion in North Africa. Similarly, the Ottoman Empire, an African State, played a major role in preventing the penetration of colonialism in East Africa. In the 16th Century, the Ottoman Navy commanded by Admiral Seydi Ali Reis defended the people of the Zanzibar Island against the occupying forces.

-Good relations were also established with the Kingdom of Timbuktu which was located around today’s Mali. Likewise, relations were established with the Kanem Empire that once occupied the territories of today’s Niger, Chad, North Nigeria and North Cameroon.

-As a whole, Africa feels a particular admiration for Turkey’s war of independence. The reforms developed under the leadership of Atatürk set good example for leaders of certain African countries during the early periods of national independence.

-Historical relations with North and Northeast Africa have an exclusive place in the memories of our peoples.

-It wouldn’t be possible to understand the role Turkey is playing before thorough knowledge about its historical involvement in the continent and in East Africa in particular.

-In the lands where it was once present, the Ottoman Empire has built the infrastructure, water systems, bridges, madrasahs, mosques, hamams for the benefit of local peoples.

-It has not imposed its own culture on the local populations.


a) Milestones in Turkey’s Africa Policy

-Turkey’s opening policy to Africa dates back to the Action Plan adopted in 1998.

-A strategy on the Development of the Economic Relations with African Countries was prepared by the Undersecretariat for Foreign Trade in 2003.

-Subsequently 2005 was declared as a “Year of Africa” by the Turkish Government and Turkey was accorded observer status by the Africa Union the same year.

-2008 has a particular significance in the development of the Turkish-African relations. In that year, the African Union, at its 10th Summit, declared Turkey as a strategic partner of the Continent. Furthermore, the “Turkey-Africa Cooperation Summit” was held with the participation of 49 African countries on 18-21 August 2008, in İstanbul. The Summit initiated a steady and sustainable cooperation process.

-“The Istanbul Declaration on Turkey-Africa Partnership: Cooperation and Solidarity for a Common Future” and “Cooperation Framework for Turkey-Africa Partnership”, which was adopted during the First Turkey-Africa Cooperation Summit of 2008 established a follow-up mechanism.

-Accordingly, the High-Level Officials Meeting was held in 15 December 2010. The Ministerial Level Reviewing Conference was held in 16 December 2011, in Istanbul.

-Within the framework of said follow-up mechanism, the “Second Turkey-Africa Partnership Summit” was held in 19-21 November 2014 in Malabo (Equatorial Guinea).

-Additionally, Turkey co-chaired with Egypt “International Donor’s Conference for the Reconstruction and Development of Darfur” in Cairo, on 21 March 2010 and hosted twice the Istanbul Somalia Conferences organized within the UN framework on 21-23 May 2010 and 31 May-1 June 2012 consequently.

-Turkey also eagerly hosted the Fourth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries, in Istanbul on 9-13 May 2011 and offered to host the Mid-Term Review Conference of the Istanbul Programme of Action in 2015.

b) II. Turkey-Africa Partnership Summit (2014)

-Second Summit was supposed to be held in 2013 in an African country. However, due to lack of convergence about time and date of the Summit, it could not be convened that year.

-In accordance with the decisions of the African Union it was held in Malabo, the capital of Equatorial Guinea, in 19-21 November 2014.

-Since Africa was the host, invitations for the Malabo Summit were send by the African Union Commission in accordance with Banjul Formula which requires a representative participation in the Summits between African Union and one partner country. In total, it is 16 countries that participates in such Summits.

-In the case of Malabo Summit, host country, Equatorial Guinea, has also invited other African countries as observers to the Summit. Therefore there was a large representation. Almost 30 African countries were present at the Malabo Summit.

There was seven Presidents (Equatorial Guinea, Mauritania, Chad, Zimbabwe, Benin, Republic of Congo, Niger), two Vice Presidents (RSA, Burundi), 3 Prime Ministers (Algeria Gabon, Swaziland), and eleven Ministers (DRC, Kenya, Senegal, Sudan, Nigeria, Angola, Ethiopia, Ghana, Libya, Somalia, Morocco). Chairperson of the African Union Commission Dr. Zuma was also present.

-The Summit was held under the theme of “A New Model of Partnership for the Strengthening of Sustainable Development and Integration”.

-The Summit started with the High Level Officials Meeting on November 19. It was followed by Ministerial Meeting on November 20. And on November 21, the Summit was held. The Summit adopted a Declaration and Joint Implementation Plan for the Period of 2015-2019.

-In accordance with the decision taken at the Summit, Third Turkey-Africa Partnership Summit will be held in Turkey in 2019.

c) Turkey’s Relations with the African Union and Regional Organizations

-Turkey will remain committed to support the institutional capacities of the African Union and other regional organizations in achieving progress on the priority areas which will consolidate African ownership of African matters.

-Turkey has been making financial contribution of 1 million US Dollars to the African Union since 2009. Turkey also contributes to regional organizations when the need arise.

-Being an observer country (2005) and strategic partner (2008) of the African Union, Turkey has also been accepted as a non-regional member of the African Development Bank (2008). Following the approval process, in January 2013, Turkey became 26th non-regional member of the Bank.

Furthermore, following accreditations has been done:

i) Turkish Embassy in Addis Ababa is accredited to the Intergovernmental Authority on Development Partners Forum (IGAD) (2012).

ii) Turkish Embassy in Abuja is accredited to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) (2005).

iii) Turkish Embassy in Dar-es-Salaam is accredited to the East African Community (EAC) (2010).

iv) Turkish Embassy in Lusaka is accredited to Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) (2012).

v) Turkish Embassy in Libreville is accredited to Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) (2013).

-Turkey supports and commends the efforts of ECOWAS in Mali, ECCAS in Central African Republic and IGAD in South Sudan for the constructive role they have played in time of political turmoil and instability.

d) Turkey’s G20 Presidency

-Turkey assumed the G20 Presidency as of 1 December 2014 for one year. The G20 has a multiyear agenda across different policy areas. We continue to work within the multiyear agenda, building on the progress made during previous Presidencies.

-We aim to strengthen the interaction between the G20 and developing countries. Reaching out to the developing world to ensure strong, balanced and sustainable growth is a central theme of our Presidency. 2015 will be a year of `development` mainly because of the expected agreement on the UN Post 2015 development agenda. Therefore, we will give particular importance to the issue of development during our Presidency.

-Particular focus will be given to addressing the challenges faced by developing countries and better promoting their integration into the world economy.

-We see Africa’s development as an important issue to be addressed to meet the global economic challenges. In our Presidency, we will make every effort to strengthen the dialogue and interaction between the G-20 and Africa.

-As a concrete sign of our engagement, we are planning to have an event which will bring together G20 and developing countries to reflect on ways of establishing an effective dialogue, to which African countries will also be invited. Outreach activities in Africa will also be intensified during our Presidency.

-The goals set by African countries under “Agenda 2063” to transform Africa into an effective global actor are in line with Turkey’s G20 Presidency priorities.


-Turkey’s Africa policy has ushered in a new phase and gained a fresh momentum in 2013 which we describe as mutually reinforced political-economic partnership.

-In the year of 2009 there were only 12 Turkish Embassies in African countries (5 of them in North Africa). There is now 39.

-It is not one sided. We see, today, a growing number of African Embassies in Ankara. It reached 32 while it was merely around 10 five years ago.

-We think that this trend is a strong manifestation of the commitment of our African partners to further develop our relations to the mutual benefit of our peoples.

-It is not just about diplomatic representation.

-We are glad that people to people contacts have intensified tremendously as a result of direct flights between Turkey and African countries as well as ever growing numbers of students, business people and tourists travelling both ways.

-Turkish Airlines has become major international airline connecting the continent to the world with a total number of flights over 40 destinations in 28 countries.

-More than 200 thousand people travel mutually between Turkey and the African countries for business, tourism and cultural purposes (from Turkey to Africa 116 thousand, from Africa to Turkey 111 thousand in 2013).

-Number of African tourist visiting Turkey increased fourfold during last eight years (2006:210 thousand; 2014:713 thousand).

-Bilateral trade volume has reached 23.4 billion USD in 2014 with all Africa. It is 8,4 billion USD with Sub-Saharan Africa. When we compare the figures in 2000 which was about 750 million USD and 2014, we see an increase of more than tenfold.

-Turkish contractors are amongst the major undertakers in the continent. Share of African countries in the overall international business volume of Turkish contractors is around 19 percent. Turkish contractors have undertaken projects in the amount of 39 billion USD in Africa between 1972-2013.

-There are ever growing Turkish investments, many being exemplary of their kind in a number of African countries that employ local labor force, use home-produced resources and export final products to third countries.

-Total Turkish investment in Africa is estimated around 5 billion USD (3.2 billion USD in Ethiopia, 500 million USD in South Africa, 160 million USD in Sudan and 60 million USD in Nigeria).

-Turkey provided 1079 scholarships for the education year of 2014-2015 for students from Africa. In the period between 1991-2013 total number of scholarships amounted 3254. There is currently 5437 students in higher education and 116 visiting professors/research assistants from African countries.

-In addition to many technical training programmes undertaken by different Ministries and institutions, around 200 junior diplomats have attended training programmes organized by the Diplomatic Academy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs since 1992.

-We attach particular importance to ensuring peace and stability in Africa and contribute to the United Nations missions deployed in the continent. Turkey is currently providing personnel and contributing financially to six of the existing nine UN missions in Africa.

-As of end of 2014, we have provided military training in Turkey to 2202 military personnel from African countries. During the year of 2014, this number was 570. There is currently 249 military personnel getting military training in Turkey. For the period of 2015-2016 we plan to receive 1258 African military personnel for training.

-Turkey has become a leading country in humanitarian activities all over the continent.

-Turkish International Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TİKA) currently operates 15 Program Coordination Offices in Africa.

-Turkey became the fourth-largest donor in 2012 in the world.

-Including the contribution of the Turkish NGOs in the fields of health, education, and capacity building Turkey’s total humanitarian assistance reaches 2 billion US dollars per year.

-Africa had a share of 31 percent from Turkey’s Official Development Assistance (ODA) in 2012 which represents an amount of 772 million USD. When we look at the figures of last five years, this represents a big increase (It was 28 million USD in 2006, 39 million USD in 2007, 96 million USD in 2009, 102 million USD in 2010 and 425 million USD in 2011).

-In 2013, Turkey disbursed 3.3 billion USD as ODA, which corresponds to 0.42 % of its GNI. This amount represents an almost 30 % increase in Turkish ODA compared to 2012. Africa had a similar share within the amount of 2013 (783 million USD).

-As an emerging donor country, Turkey is keen to share its development experience with the countries in need of help.

-Turkey’s approach is based on the combination of humanitarian and development assistance, with a holistic approach and without prioritizing either of the two.

-This approach supports capacity and institution building in all areas.

-Another element is the relevance of expertise and solutions offered by Turkey to the host country’s social and political environments, which draws on Turkey’s past and current challenges.

-This creates a sense of shared experience effect, which in turn leads to a more genuine partnership and facilitates communication.

-Health sector constitutes another important aspect of Turkey’s humanitarian assistance to African countries. We have signed health cooperation agreements with around 20 African countries.

-Turkish doctors have taken part in numerous health screening campaigns organized by Turkish NGOs in cooperation with our Ministry of Health and TIKA (According to estimation figures we received from NGOs, 500 Turkish doctors and over 100 health personnel have provided health care in around 20 countries. Overall over 280.000 Africans have undergone health screenings)

-As an example, within the framework of “Africa Cataract Project” which has been implemented in 4 countries (Niger, Somalia, Ethiopia and Sudan) a total of 21.600 patients have been operated during last year.

-A total of 21.953 patients have been checked, treated and provided with medicine in 2013. Additionally, around 1000 African patients who can not be cured in their own country get their treatment in Turkey in accordance with the bileteral agreements as well as emergency humanitarian aid programme.

-Vocational training extended to African countries by the Turkish Ministry of Health is an important element of cooperation between Turkey and Africa in the health sector.

-The Turkish-Sudanese Research and Training Hospital in Nyala which is constructed by TIKA is completed and the Hospital started its operations on February 28, 2014.

-Our Government has allocated 108 million US Dollars in total for the hospital project including construction and the running of hospital for the initial five years. After five years of co-management with Sudan, the hospital will be handed over to Sudanese management.

-This hospital will constitute a model for the Sudanese health system and for the Continent as well.

-In Somalia, we have built and equipped the biggest hospital in Mogadishu. With 200 beds, Digfer Hospital has been officially opened by President Erdoğan on 25th of January 2015 during his visit to Somalia.

-The Educational Hospital in Juba (South Sudan) and the Black Lion Hospital in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) are among the health institutions to which the Turkish Ministry of Health has made significant contributions.

-As an endorsement of Turkey’s humanitarian diplomacy which is also one of the basic tenets of Turkey’s Africa policy, the UN authorities decided to held the First World Humanitarian Summit in 2016 in Istanbul.

Sources: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Turkey


Photo: Turkey Africa Initiative had a meeting with former Minister of Justice and Bremen of Federal Somalia parliament, HE Farah Sheikh Abdulkadir in Istanbul Turkey

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Ethiopia: Turkey’s developing relationship with Africa


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