Africa has an elegant philosophy called “ubuntu”. This understanding can be translated as “I am who I am because of who we all are “. What is not for the benefit of the whole is not beneficial for the individuals. We are representatives of an inclusive tradition that considers all living beings beyond human beings. In our relations with Africa, we think not only of ourselves but of the benefit of all with our win-win principle.
During the Antalya Diplomacy Forum organized by our Ministry of Foreign Affairs this year, at the DEİK Africa Session, where I was the moderator and 14 Foreign Ministers were panelists, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Sierra Leone made the following statement at the panel: “We love Turkish people because of your two characteristics. First of all, you have never been a colonialist in your history, which is very important. Also, you are not acting like a hunter, like others. A hunter goes, takes aim, shoots and takes its prey and leaves. You are not like that, you act like you are ready to share with us.” I think these remarks are our most valuable power.
This year, as always, our Africa agenda is busy. Last October, we went to Angola, Nigeria, and Togo as part of the visits of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, our President of the Republic of Turkey, and we have taken important steps to increase our investment and commercial cooperation with these countries, signed dozens of agreements between our official institutions and our private sector representatives in the fields ranging from the defence industry to energy production, from food to fertilizer production, from mining to energy transmission lines, from mutual protection of investments to other fields. Right after these visits, we came to Istanbul and held our Türkiye-Africa III. Economic and Business Forum (TABEF), hosted by our Ministry of Trade and in cooperation with the African Union.
In the TABEF event of this year, we hosted more than 3,000 Turkish and African business representatives, 1,650 of whom are from 45 African counties, Deputy President of the Republic of South Sudan, Ministers of 34 African countries, Commissioner of the African Union Commission, and the heads and representatives of dozens of business organizations, and 4,900 business meetings were held between business representatives at our event.
As for upcoming events, we have the African Development Bank’s African Investment Forum in Abidjan, the capital of Ivory Coast, on December 1-3, and the 3rd Türkiye-Africa Partnership Summit on December 17-18 in Istanbul under the auspices of our President of the Republic of Turkey.
As a result of Covid, a glocalized world has emerged, which sees the risks of being connected to a single source, where supply chain and digital life come to the fore, and the importance of food, energy, and agriculture has increased. Having 60% of the world’s uncultivated land, Africa has the potential to meet the agricultural and food needs of the world population. Through the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement, a new free market with a population of 1.3 billion and $3.4 trillion is being formed.
As the Turkish business world, we are already ahead of our competitors with our courage, speed, price, and quality. With the clean pages of our history and our ready-to-share understanding, we are ready for doing more together. Our primary goal is to increase our trade volume with Africa from $25 billion to $50 billion.
For this reason, it is of great importance to cooperate in areas such as overcoming the difficulties in visa processes, concluding the ongoing FTAs, ending the Mutual Recognition and Protection of Investment Agreements, increasing the investments of our business world in Africa, industrialization, agriculture, construction, textile, and know-how sharing.
Together with Africa, we are stronger. As DEİK, we will maintain our “business diplomacy” activities to increase investment and trade between countries through our 147 Business Councils, 45 of which are in Africa.
In this issue of our Business Diplomacy Journal, where we discuss TABEF in detail, as DEİK, we shared our economic and commercial activities with Africa. Berna Gözbaşı, Coordinating Chairperson of Türkiye-Africa Business Councils, shared these activities in her cover interview in detail. Our valued academicians and representatives of our business world shared their views on areas such as “Digital Turkish Lira”, “Market potential of the African continent for countries such as Türkiye and China”, and “Türkiye’s Approach to Africa”.
Enjoy your reading, and stay safe.
Nail Olpak / President of DEİK