Turkey is keen to boost its trade volume with Africa, and has set a target figure of $50 billion by 2015. The Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, accompanied by a delegation of 250 businessmen, recently toured Niger, Gabon and Senegal. The trip is all part of the Turkish government’s plan to increase its economic standing in the continent.
Until Erdogan came to power a decade ago, this continent had been largely ignored. During the last three years Turkey has opened up 19 new embassies in the continent, and its national airline has increased the number of flights to African destinations. The Turkish Prime Minister is accompanied by the Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag, and the Turkish Economy Minister, Zafer Caglayan on what is his first trip abroad this year.
The aim of the visit is to help establish a legal infrastructure to help encourage investors and entrepreneurs. The recent recession affected trade levels between Africa and Turkey, although figures have been steadily recovering since 2011. The trade between Turkey and Gabon was worth $41 million during the first eleven months of last year, and it is expected that the final figures for last year will be higher than those of 2007, before the economic crisis took hold.
During 2012, the total amount of exports from Turkey to Africa increased by 31.4% compared to 2011, and was worth $12.1 billion. Turkey’s market share in the continent also increased slightly, up from 7.5% in 2011 to 8.7% in 2012. Turkey hasn’t just increased economic relations with Africa, as it has also been concentrating on increasing political and cultural relations during the past ten years, and was successful in mediating between the Sudanese government and South Sudan in 2005.