Turkey in Africa

Update: Erdmann’s talk was based on an article (in German) available here. For non-German speakers, the chart might be of interest.

Update 2: Here is an ORSAM report in Turkish.

I’m presently in Berlin and a couple of days ago attended an interesting talk about Turkey’s presence in sub-Saharan Africa, which is arousing the attention of researchers here. It was held at the German Institute of Global Studies (GIGA) in a lovely old, high-ceilinged apartment building right next to Checkpoint Charlie. The speakers were Dr. Gero Erdmann and Dr. Gülistan Gürbey.  Here’s what I noted down from the talks:

Turkish investment in Africa has increased by five times since 2005 from .5 billion (I presume Euros) to 3.5 billion in 2011. Of this, 2.7 billion is in South Africa, where gold is a major commodity sought by Turkey. There has also been an increase in trade. Turkey sees sub-Saharan Africa as a market for Turkish goods, now that north African and Middle East markets have been saturated. This puts Turkey in competition with the other big economic powers active in Africa, China, India and Brazil.

A prime Turkish economic focus is Nigeria, which has oil and gas. Turkey wants to diversify its sources; at present it relies on Iran and Russia.

Turkey also gives development assistance: 50% goes to Russia/Caucasus, 15% to the Balkans, 5% to the Arab world, and 5% to Africa. (A caveat: I wrote these figures down quickly, and have no sources on hand to check them.) African aid goes to countries like Somalia and Sudan. This puts Turkey in competition with Egypt, which is also trying to be a regional power.

Turkey also has a presence in Africa as UN soldiers and through schools (more than a hundred schools throughout Africa). Many of these are Gülen schools, and Gürbey made the insightful point that through these schools in Africa and elsewhere, the Fethullah Gülen movement is essentially training the elites of these regions. What the long-term consequences of this might be isn’t clear, but it’s certainly an important long-term strategy. (The Turkish version of AUB, AUC, Robert College?)

Turkey’s activity in Africa, particularly among the poorer countries, helps it get votes for its bid to sit on the UN Security Council and as such puts it in competition with Germany.

Mention was made of an article on the activities of the Gulen movement in Kenya, which I haven’t yet tracked down. And apparently the Turkish government is training local imams in Kenya.

6 Responses to “Turkey in Africa”

  1. Well, enjoy today’s game against Portugal then

  2. Did they really say the N. African and Middle Eastern Markets have been saturated? If so, that is interesting in the context of more official statements.

  3. Not in those words (it was in German, so I freely translated), but you can see an export/import chart for sub-Saharan Africa in the article I added (see update).

  4. Thank you Jenny

  5. They’re definitely playing for the long term.

  6. who is not?

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