By Tufan Aktas and Addis Getachew
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia
More details about Turkey’s first military facility in Somalia emerged on Thursday with the construction firm behind the project confirming the base will be able to train hundreds of local soldiers.
Istanbul Mogadishu General Construction Company Director Ebubekir Sahin told Anadolu Agency the $50-million base will open near the Somali capital Mogadishu in January 2017.
It will occupy 400 hectares and house three military schools, dormitories and depots.
The facility, whose construction began in March 2015, will be used to train troops from Somalia and other African countries, Sahin added. It will have the capacity to train 500 soldiers at a time.
Sahin said the facility would be located close to Mogadishu’s airport and three kilometers (1.8 miles) from Recep Tayyip Erdogan Hospital and the Port of Mogadishu.
In recent decades, Somalia has enjoyed multi-tiered cooperation from Turkey.
On June 3 this year, President Erdogan visited Somalia as the last leg of a three-nation East Africa tour during which he inaugurated Turkey’s largest embassy in Africa.
Turkey provides Somalia with military aid, education support, infrastructural development and skills training.
Though challenged by threats from the al-Shabaab militant group, droughts and run-down infrastructure due to long periods of war, Somalia is striving to restore law and order and secure development.
A democratic election, which has already been postponed once, is scheduled for later this year.