World Bulletin / News Desk
Expectations of development have transformed Africa from being a hopeless continent into a rising continent, and the world appears to be taking note.
A number of experts exchanged opinions on Africa during the ninth International Turkish-African Congress which was held on April 24-25 in Istanbul with the theme “Sectorial and Financial Transformations in Africa: Opportunities and Risks.”
Most of them said Africa is becoming integrated into the world economy and diversifying its partnerships, and that it is no longer a market just for the developed countries but has also become a market in which developing countries are now interested.
"This century will be Africa's," said Prof. Ali Engin Oba, adviser to the chairman of the Turkish Asian Center for Strategic Studies, which organized the conference.
"All the documents, reports, and work carried out so far shows how Africa has been rising," Oba said.
According to the International Monetary Fund, six of the 10 fastest-growing economies between 2001 and 2010 were in African countries, and between 2011 and 2015, it is predicted that seven of the 10 fastest growing economies will be African.
Oba said Turkey is becoming a more important player in the region and added that Turkey's presence in Africa is not new; it goes back to Ottoman times. He pointed out Turkey was the host country for the first Turkey-African Cooperation Summit, in August 2008, which brought together many high-level officials to discuss bilateral relations.
Ufuk Tepebas, director of the Turkish Asian Center's African Institute, stressed that today Turkey has 35 embassies on the continent.
"It is a significant development when compared to the 12 embassies in 2009," Tepebas said.
He also touched on the effect of Turkish Airlines on transportation, as well as the projects of Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency centers across the continent and Turkish investors' presence there.
"Turkish entrepreneurs have been closely monitoring and discovering the potential of the continent..." he said. "However, Turkey has signed Free Trade Agreements with only four African countries, which can be considered as a deficiency. The most rational step at this point is to start Free Trade Agreement negotiations with Regional Economic Communities."
As far back as 2003, Turkey started an initiative to improve its trade and economic relations with the continent through what it called its “African Strategy.”
Though some experts believe that Turkey’s presence in Africa remains weak compared to other rising powers in the region, like China, Mehmet Ozkan, a researcher on African issues at the Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research, believes Turkey is having an increasing and deepening effect in the continent.
"China, India, Brazil and Russia have some economic and commercial relations in the region while France, Britain, and U.S. are more focused on security and politics. Turkey, however, stands just in between. No Turkish policy in Africa has failed yet; bilateral relations are also developing each day," Ozkan told The Anadolu Agency.
He said the fact that people in some African countries such as Somalia and Mali are Muslims help Turkey in building confidence and making bridges.
"Moreover, it is out of the question that Turkey has a policy of imperialism in the region, unlike China which sends Chinese workers to work in the factories established in Africa," he said, adding that Turkish businessmen prefer local workers. "Besides economic initiatives, Turkey has been carrying out many projects in education, health, and cultural fields, which all touch people's hearts."
Within the context of all these developments, experts say, Africa’s economic potential, its current transformation process and the cooperation opportunities seem to be drawing more attention from investors and international organisations and the business world with each passing day.Last Mod: 26 Nisan 2014, 12:38