ISTANBUL - Turkish Daily News
Turkey has taken the first step in its mission to expand economic ties with African countries by playing host to the first Turkish-African summit, with leaders from 54 African countries set to meet in Istanbul in August.
The summit, to be held Aug. 18-21, is being organized with the help of the African Union and will be the first of its kind for both parties.
Foreign Minister Ali Babacan announced the event mid-July during extensive foreign policy talks in Ankara. He said Turkey should be a leading country in the areas of production, investment, technology, innovation, finance, energy and tourism, placing a special emphasis on Africa. He added that it was the right time to develop economic and commercial relations with the African continent, after it grew at a rate above the world average between 2002 and 2007.
A rapprochement will benefit both sides. Turkey has become a key producer of consumer goods such as textiles, carpets, furniture and electronics for many African markets, such as Kenya's newly rich, according to Business Daily Africa. A steadily growing and stable economy is also seen as critical to the realization of Turkey's European Union ambitions.
Turkey recently stepped up its expansion in Africa when it became a non-regional member of the African Development Bank in May, 2007. Furthermore, the Turkish International Cooperation Agency, or TIKA, has opened three representative offices in Africa. There are many projects underway in Africa in which Turkey is involved, such as a venture into Africa's maritime sector with investments in key facilities such as the Port of Mombasa to spur trade in the hinterland. The African Union declared Turkey a strategic partner in January.