Turkey and Africa can build a win-win partnership as Sub-Saharan Africa can supply Turkey’s energy needs while boosting trade flows with Turkey, according to Selim Bora, President of the Turkish company Summa.
Currently operational in Libya, Equatorial Guinea and in Senegal, Bora highlighted that more Turkish companies should invest in Africa, not least in Sub-Saharan Africa.
He described the region as a ‘’new game field’’ for firms and that it had 'been confined to Turkey’s cultural hinterland until recently.’’
While being aware of the challenges of this geographical novelty, the Turkish businessman added that Africa nevertheless offered remarkable advantages.
Bora noted that Turkish business investment in Africa is indirectly lucrative for many companies operating inside Turkey, as it usually requires national workforce and equipment that cannot be provided from local sources within the continent.
As regards to the reaction of African governments to ever-increasing Turkish involvement in the continent, as part of its partnership policy introduced by the government in 2013, Bora affirmed that their approach ‘’was nothing but positive.’’
‘’They ask us what took us so long to invest in their countries,’’ he explained.
Countries located in West and Sub-Saharan Africa are inherently linked to French companies, however they are growing tired of the trade status quo and are looking for alternatives, according to Bora.
‘’Turkey becomes quite attractive in this case, not just because of the quality and the speed of projects that are carried out by our companies -- but it also shares the same religion with many West African countries.'
Direct Turkish Airlines flights to the region and the introduction of visa-free regimes with several African countries would also contribute to the current welcoming approach towards Turkish companies.
The African Union declared Turkey a strategic partner in 2008 and a Turkey-Africa Cooperation Summit was held the same year in Istanbul.
During the summit, Turkey and African countries agreed on organizing a second meeting, which will be hosted by Equatorial Guinea in its capital of Malabo, between 19-21 November.
According to data from the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, trade volume between Turkey and Sub-Saharan countries has increased more than tenfold in 13 years, reaching $7.5 billion in 2013, up from $742 million in 2000.
As the second Turkey-Africa Cooperation Summit approaches, Bora called on Turkish companies to participate, asserting ‘’meetings that gather African leaders are not very often’’ and ‘’the summit therefore provides a remarkable opportunity.’’
Regarding the enhancement of Turkey-Africa partnerships in the future, Selim Bora suggested more practical credits could be granted by Eximbank -- Turkey's import-export bank -- to Turkish companies.
Bora raised the Chinese case, as China ‘’the most influential economic player in Africa at the moment’’, grants credits in exchange for guarantees on the exploitation of African energy sources.
‘’Turkish companies could follow the same model which would meet Turkey’s energy needs,’’ he suggested.
Sub-Saharan Africa is expected to replace Russia by 2040 as the second biggest gas producer in the world, with a capacity of 175 billion cubic meters per year, according to the latest World Energy Outlook report published by International Energy Agency in October 2014.
Bora concluded that Turkey-Africa relations could therefore also include other countries from Sub-Saharan Africa such as Angola, Zambia and Namibia, describing them as ‘’three countries that provide vast opportunities.’’
By Bilal Muftuoglu