As Turkey marks the annual Africa Day today, I take the opportunity to celebrate the continent’s achievements and rejoice in our developing partnership.
Africa’s ascendancy makes all Turks proud and motivates us to engage in closer ties and cooperation.
Political institutions around Africa are evolving even as we are witnessing the emergence of a stronger economy in many African countries.
The continent has the aspiration to make strides across all Sustainable Development Goals in eliminating absolute poverty, reducing inequality, offering a wealth of valuable education opportunities to all and reinforcing good governance as the norm.
It operates increasingly as a cohesive unit. The Continental Free Trade Area Agreement has been a critical milestone that will shape the future of Africa, of whom we have every reason to be a proud partner.
Our engagement is based on building lasting relationships.
Our principal purpose is to establish deep-rooted cooperation with our African counterparts in a manner that is sustainable and mutually productive.
I am encouraged to hear in many instances that Turkey’s goodwill and determined outreach resonates with our African partners.
Our interest in Africa is rooted in intensified political contacts at the highest level.
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has paid official visits to 26 African countries since his Prime Ministry term. This opened new venues of cooperation.
The multitude of agreements signed show that Turkey is committed to opening new areas of collaboration with African countries.
Turkey’s outreach towards Africa has been built on visible, tangible and mutually beneficial foundations.
With 41 embassies in Africa, the latest having been opened in Sierra Leone and the Equatorial Guinea, we will raise this number to 50 in the medium term with the ultimate target of being represented in every country.
This year marks the 10th anniversary of Turkey’s strategic partnership with the African Union.
Recently, I had the pleasure of hosting high-level AU officials and African Foreign ministers in Istanbul for a ministerial conference that reviewed our institutional co-operation.
We set new targets for a more productive relationship.
As a first step, we will host the Second Turkey-Africa Business Forum in Istanbul in October. Next year, we will hold the Third Turkey-Africa Summit.
Turkey’s trade with Africa exceeds $20 billion (Sh2 trillion) — nearly a five-fold increase since 2003.
That shows Africa and Turkey benefit from an equitable trade relationship.
We recognise the important role played by regional economic communities in the future of Africa.
In February, we organised the inaugural Turkey-Ecowas Economic and Business Forum with the aim of deepening the economic partnership between Turkey and Ecowas members.
The national carrier Turkish Airlines (THY) continues to extend its presence on the continent by adding destinations to its flight network.
It now flies to 52 destinations in 34 countries in Africa.
SECURITY AND PEACE
Turkey also actively contributes to peace and security in Africa.
A case in point is our efforts to combat terrorism in the Sahel region.
At the recent Brussels Conference, Turkey pledged $5 million to support the regional G5 Sahel security force.
Humanitarian and development partnerships have been strong elements of Turkey’s overall outreach to the continent through ministries, agencies and NGOs in Turkey.
Our benchmark for success is meeting local needs in a speedy manner.
In 2004-2016, the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (Tica) spent $1.43 billion on supporting sustainable development efforts in the continent.
Likewise, The Maarif Foundation, a government-run agency, has started to operate schools in Africa to support governments offer affordable quality education.
Providing higher education opportunities to qualified African students in Turkey through scholarships is also a promising leg of our cooperation.
Every year, more than 1,000 students from Africa come to Turkey to receive their higher education through Turkish government scholarships.
I would like to emphasise that we highly appreciate that many African countries have taken swift action against various organisations affiliated with the Fethullah Gulen's terror organisation, which attempted a bloody coup in Turkey.
As we mark this day, I underline Turkey’s commitment to our long-term strategic partnership with Africa based on the principles of equality, solidarity, sustainability and mutual respect.
Mr Cavusoglu is Turkey's Minister of Foreign Affairs; [email protected]