Bilateral Relations

Bilateral Relations

“Turkey's win-win policy in Africa: A policy of mutual empowerment based on equality, transparency and sustainability”

Turkey's Trade and Economic Enhancement Strategy towards Africa lies behind the gradual boom of the Turkey's bilateral relations with the African countries since 2003. In response to the changing conditions and needs of the Continent, the Strategy has been updated during the Turkey-Africa Partnership Summit in Malabo-Equatorial Guinea in 2014 and its vision and objectives have been modified aiming to increase the Turkish FDI to Africa, job opportunities for domestic people and creating an environment conducive to economic development of African countries.

Turkey's 15-year Africa Initiative Policy has increased economic cooperation, while also bringing political relations to the next level. The experience of Turkish businesspeople has been transferred to the region and it has contributed to the development of African countries.

Turkey’s bilateral trade volume with Africa increased three-fold from 2003 to reach $18.9 billion in 2017 as exports totaled $11.6 billion and imports $7.1 billion.

Turkey has been forging with Africa countries. While Turkey’s engagement with North Africa dates back to the time of the Ottoman Empire, Turkey has started to see more opportunities, particularly with trade and business, with countries south of the Sahara. The Turkish Government’s priority to engage with Africa has helped facilitate the growth of business and trade relations. Turkish SMEs have particularly started to invest as African markets have become more accessible.

The Turkish Government has also used development aid to help facilitate commercial interactions. And the Turkish image and presence has been enhanced by the engagement of private companies, NGOs, and Turkish schools. Turkish companies are undertaking major projects, producing everything from cement and clothes to electronics in African countries.

In addition, Turkey has helped to create a significant number of jobs in Africa, unlike some other partnering countries who bring their own workers to Africa. In 2015, for instance, Turkish projects provided employment for 30,000 people in Ethiopia, which is the largest number of people employed by a foreign country.

Human trafficking between Turkey and Africa has also increased, while the total number of foreigners coming to Turkey from 2006 to 2014 has doubled, while the number of Africans from Africa to Turkey has increased fourfold. The share of Africans in foreigners coming to Turkey in 2014 was close to %2.

In order to build on existing relations, there is a need for more Turkish-African cooperation in the energy, security and health sectors.

Africa's huge potential for sustainable development will be realized only when new forms of modern slavery, exploitation and dependence come to an end and instead Africans are allowed to develop their own potential in ways that are in tune with the spirit and traditions of the African continent in the 21st century. Turkey's win-win approach to Africa should be seen as a humble yet important contribution to this precious goal. (Turkish Presidential Spokesperson: Amb. Ibrahim Kalin, 28 January 2017)

It is as part of this approach that Turkey asks African countries to disallow the subversive activities of Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) individuals and institutions in their countries. Using Turkey's prestige and capacities, FETÖ has established itself in dozens of African nations over the last two decades. Now that their true identities have been exposed after the July 15 coup attempt, many African countries are taking positive steps against this menace.

Our African brothers and sisters should know by now that this cult group is a matter of national security not only for Turkey but also for them as it will do everything to amass political power and use it against the very nations opening their doors and hearts to them. (Turkish Presidential Spokesperson: Amb. Ibrahim Kalin, 28 January 2017)

Turkey-Africa Bilateral Data
Economic Partnership:
  • The number of the countries with which Turkey signed Trade and Economic Cooperation Agreements increased to 45 in 2017 while it was 23 in 2003. This agreement establishes a bilateral regular follow-up mechanism where several subjects stretching from trade, investment and finance to SMEs, health and technology.
  • Health cooperation agreements with 20 African countries.
  • Free Trade Agreements with 4 African countries are in force now when it was literally none in 2003.
  • Reciprocal Protection of Investment Agreements with 26 countries have been signed so far, however, Turkey had this agreement with only 6 countries in 2003.
  • Prevention of Double Taxation Agreements with 11 African countries is effective today in comparison with that it was only 4 in 2003.
  • Share of African countries in the overall international business volume of Turkish contractors is around 21 percent (share of North Africa is 19%).
  • According to a report published in October 2015 (Finacial Times), Turkish investment in Africa creates the largest number of jobs in Africa (16.593 in 2014) compared to the other foreign direct investments in the continent.
Institutional Capacity:
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  • The number of Turkish Embassies in Africa recorded as 41 African countries. Turkey aims to open embassies in all African countries.
  • There are 33 African Embassies in Ankara.
  • Turkish Trade Counsellor Offices in 26 countries while they are 7 and 4 respectively in 2003.
  • Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TiKA) currently operates 21 program coordination offices in Africa under the motto of “A New Partnership Model for Sustainable Development and Strengthened Integration of Africa”.
  • Foreign Economic Relations Board of Turkey (DEiK) has established Business Councils with African counterparts in 43 countries. DEiK has significantly contributed to the development of bilateral relations with African countries.
  • As of present, Turkish Airlines (THY) fly to 51 destinations in 33 countries in the continent. In Sub-Saharan Africa, THY flies to 34 destinations in 26 countries. In 2003, it was merely flying to North Africa. THY also provides air cargo services.
  • Turkish Maarif Foundation (TMF) has currently 17 schools with more than 9.000 students in Africa. TMF, established in 2016 by the Turkish Parliament, is the sole entity authorized to provide educational services abroad.
  • Yunus Emre Foundation (YEF) has cultural centers in 8 African countries. YEF is a public foundation to promote Turkey, Turkish language, its history and culture and art and to improve the friendship between Turkey and other countries and increase the cultural exchange.
Development Assistance:

As an emerging donor country, Turkey is keen to share its development experience with the countries in need of help. Turkey gives 0.54% of its GDP to official development assistance.

  • Turkey’s approach is based on the combination of humanitarian and development assistance, with a holistic approach and without prioritizing either of the two.
  • Turkey has become the third-largest humanitarian donor in 2013 and 2014 in the world. In 2015, Turkey’s official development assistance to Africa was 395,77 million USD.
  • Turkey also provided an annual support of 1 million USD to the African Union since 2009.
  • Turkey has been providing substantial number of undergraduate, graduate and doctorate scholarships to 8.000 African students since 1992. There are currently 5.437 students in higher education and 116 visiting professors/research assistants from African countries.
  • In addition to many technical training programs undertaken by different Ministries and institutions, around 200 junior diplomats have attended to the “International Young Diplomats Training Program” organized by the Diplomatic Academy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs since 1992.
  • The hospitals built by Turkey have been extending a helping hand to thousands of patients in different regions of Africa. Also, Turkish doctors have taken part in numerous health screening campaigns. Vocational training has been extended to African countries by the Turkish Ministry of Health.
  • Africa Handicrafts Center and Culture House was also opened in the old town of Ankara under the patronage of the First Lady Emine Erdogan in 2016. At the center, handmade products are being sold to provide revenue for African women.