Unveiling the African Foothold of Turkey’s Election
Understanding Turkey’s Evolving Relationship with the Continent
As Recep Tayyip Erdogan seeks re-election in Turkey, the eyes of Africa are upon him. Over the past two decades, Erdogan has shown increasing interest in the continent, exploring economic, military, and diplomatic opportunities.
Contrasting Visions: Africa’s Significance in the Election
Analyzing Erdogan and Kilicdaroglu’s Approach to Africa
While Erdogan has fostered closer ties with Africa, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, leader of the Republican People’s Party, has focused more on Europe and the West. Kilicdaroglu’s emphasis on recalibrating relations with the West might reduce Africa’s priority. However, the impact of these potential changes remains uncertain.
Economic Boons and Lasting Bonds
Tracing Turkey’s Economic Growth and Trade with Africa
Erdogan’s vision for economic growth propelled Turkey’s engagement with Africa. Seeking new markets, Turkish exporters and businessmen found opportunities in the diverse African market, comprising over 50 countries and a population of more than 1.2 billion. Trade between Turkey and Africa surged from $5.4 billion to $34.5 billion between 2003 and 2021, with chemicals, steel, and cereals leading the way.
Beyond Business: Turkey’s Multi-Faceted Approach
From “Drone Diplomacy” to Cultural Influence
Turkey’s engagement with Africa goes beyond trade. Ankara’s “drone diplomacy” has proven successful, with the Bayraktar TB-2 drone earning acclaim in conflicts like Libya, Armenia, and Ukraine. Now, it is touted as a formidable weapon against jihadist groups in West Africa’s Sahel region. Additionally, Turkey has deepened its ties through diplomatic visits, infrastructure projects, and cultural exports such as Turkish soap operas, which have captured the hearts of African audiences.
Energy and Soft Power: Turkey’s Expanding Reach
Exploring Turkey’s Energy Projects and Soft Power Initiatives
Turkey’s influence extends to energy collaborations. Karpowership, a Turkish company, has signed agreements to supply ship-mounted power plants to several West African nations and recently reached a deal with South Africa. These power plants, moored off the coast, contribute significant electricity to national grids. Turkey has also expanded its soft power through the launch of TRT Afrika, a digital news platform, and the popularity of Turkish soap operas across the continent.
Future Prospects: The Impact of Turkey’s Election
Forecasting the Future of Africa-Turkey Relations
Should Erdogan secure victory, the bond between Turkey and Africa is expected to strengthen. On the other hand, if Kilicdaroglu wins, Africa may lose some prominence. However, the deep and lucrative ties built over the years are unlikely to be easily jeopardized.