At the end of this meeting on Saturday, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan promised to send 15 million doses of anti-Covid vaccines to Africa, left behind in global distribution despite the appearance and identification for the first time of the new Omicron variant in South Africa and Botswana.
Ankara has invested a lot in Africa over the past two decades under the auspices of Mr. Erdogan to develop diplomatic but also economic and commercial ties, in particular in the field of defense.
This two-day summit, which ended on Saturday, is the third of its kind, intended to strengthen the partnership with the continent whose head of state has visited more than thirty countries.
In October, he had already invited African businessmen to an Economic Forum on the shores of the Bosphorus, arguing in particular the absence of Turkey’s colonial past in Africa.
In a speech on Saturday, Erdogan announced that Turkey would take charge of the delivery of the 15 million doses intended to stop the spread of the pandemic on the continent.
Turkish researchers have developed their own vaccine, the “Turkovac“and submitted an emergency approval request: as soon as this is done, this vaccine will be shared with Africa, the president promised.
– Explosion in the volume of trade –
Over the past week, the number of coronavirus infections has increased by 57% on the continent, with South Africa being the most affected country.
Mr. Erdogan also expressed the wish to strengthen exchanges with Africa in a large number of areas, including health, defense, energy and agriculture and technology.
“The real potential between us goes way beyond our current goals“, he insisted.
Closing the summit, he announced the upcoming opening of new Turkish embassies in Africa, in order to bring their total number to 49 representations – against 43 currently – out of the 55 countries of the African Union.
Ankara also has 38 trade offices, he said.
The volume of trade between Turkey and Africa has increased in 20 years from 5.4 billion dollars to 25.3 billion in 2020.
In the first eleven months of 2021 alone, it reached $ 30 billion, said the head of state, who is aiming for a target of $ 75 billion for the future.
– New meeting in 2024 –
A memorandum of understanding signed for the period 2022-2026, of which AFP has obtained a copy, also provides for “strengthen collaboration“with Africa in five main areas: besides trade and investment, the”peace, security and governance; education, youth and “women’s development”; the “development of infrastructure and agriculture” and the “promoting resilient health systems”.
In terms of defense, Turkey already has a military base in Somalia and is pushing its advantage with its sales of drones: the TB2 model of the private company Bayraktar – headed by one of the president’s sons-in-law – is the most requested after its successes touted in recent years in Libya and Azerbaijan.
Morocco and Tunisia took delivery of their first Turkish combat drones in September, and Angola recently expressed interest in these unmanned aircraft during Erdogan’s visit to the area in October.
Turkey also signed a military cooperation agreement in August with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, embroiled in a war against rebels in Tigray, with which Erdogan spoke behind closed doors on Friday.
The Head of State also had a private meeting with the President of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari.
A new meeting with the continent has been announced for 2024, this time in Africa.
According to Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, sixteen heads of state and 102 African ministers attended the meeting.