As Turkey’s regional policy drifted from “zero problems with neighbors” to “precious loneliness,” the accompanying loss of trade markets in the neighborhood and Russia has made Africa a potential “lifesaver” in Ankara’s eyes. Accompanied by 150 business people, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan went on a tour of Western Africa from Feb. 28 to March 3, visiting the Ivory Coast, Ghana, Nigeria and Guinea, following a trip to the continent’s eastern coast in January 2015 that took him to Ethiopia, Djibouti and Somalia.
What groundwork does Turkey have in Africa to build on? The Turkish Foreign Ministry’s official website lists the following milestones in ties with the continent: In 2008, the First Turkey-Africa Cooperation Summit was held in Istanbul with the participation of 49 African countries, resulting in the adoption of a road map on boosting ties. Follow-up gatherings were held later in Addis Ababa and Istanbul. In January 2013, Turkey became a member of the African Development Bank. At the Second Turkey-Africa Cooperation Summit, held in Equatorial Guinea’s capital, Malabo, in November 2014, a Joint Implementation Plan was agreed for the 2015-19 period. Since 2009, the number of Turkish embassies in Africa has increased from 12 to 39. As part of efforts to boost economic exchanges with the continent, Turkey has signed 38 bilateral agreements on commercial and economic cooperation, 17 bilateral agreements on investment promotion and protection, and eight bilateral agreements on the prevention of double taxation.