Turkey is proud to have contributed to African countries in their fight against the novel coronavirus with Turkish-made respirators, masks and overalls, the country's president said on Thursday.
"The peoples of Africa were unfortunately left to their fate in the face of the virus while Western developed countries were engaged in mask wars," Recep Tayyip Erdogan said during the Turkey-Africa Business Forum organized by Turkey's Foreign Economic Relations Board (DEIK) via video link.
Erdogan underlined that the Turkey-Africa Health Partners Platform could facilitate comprehensive and permanent cooperation between the two sides.
"The essence of our relations with Africa is sincerity, brotherhood and solidarity," he said, adding that Turkey has never held short-term interests towards the continent.
Ankara does not approve designs to sustain the colonial practices of the past through new methods, he asserted, adding that as a country that has never partaken in colonialism, Turkey refuses to approach the continent in an arrogant or bossy way.
He underlined that Turkey did not see African countries as only markets for Turkish products, but rather sought win-win cooperation.
"We would like to win together, to succeed together, to walk together [with Africa]."
Erdogan noted that trade volume with the African continent, which was $5.4 billion in 2003, reached $26.2 billion in 2019.
"We should not allow the negativities caused by the pandemic to slow down the momentum we have got in our relations,” Erdogan said adding: “We have to take it [trade volume] to over $50 billion in a few years.
The total value of projects undertaken by Turkish companies across Africa has reached approximately $70 billion, he said, adding the market value of Turkish investments across the continent has exceeded $6 billion.
Underlining Turkish companies' critical role in overcoming the infrastructure and superstructure deficiencies in Africa, he stressed: “Turkish companies apply a unique model, from technology transfer to knowledge and experience sharing, from capacity investment to increase in joint ventures."
He also noted the Turkish firms have contributed to generate local employment and production in the countries where they are operating.
"Turkish investors, who meet most of their workforce needs locally, did not make the mistake of importing workers from abroad like many foreign companies.
"More than 100,000 African laborers have gained employment opportunities thanks to Turkish investors," Erdogan added.
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