Dozens of top African officials, including 12 presidents, two vice presidents, two premiers and 26 foreign ministers, flocked to Istanbul last week for the 3rd Turkey-Africa Partnership Summit. Given the diplomatic barrenness on Turkey’s Western front, the gathering could be deemed an enviable success for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
In his speech at the Dec. 16-18 summit, Erdogan boasted he had paid 50 visits to 30 African countries since 2004 as part of Ankara’s efforts to expand and strengthen ties with the continent. Turkey’s trade volume with Africa, he noted, rose to $25.3 billion last year, up from just $5.4 billion in 2003, the first full year in power of his Justice and Development Party. In the first 11 months of 2021, the figure increased further to $30 billion. Turkish investments in Africa have reached $6 billion, and Turkish companies employ some 25,000 people on the continent, Erdogan said. Turkish contractors, meanwhile, have assumed 1,686 projects worth $78 billion. In terms of diplomatic outreach, the number of Turkish embassies in Africa has increased to 42 from 12 in 2005, while that of African embassies in Ankara has reached 37 from 10. More than 14,000 African students have benefited from Turkish scholarships.