Africa future of world, Turkey aware of it: webinar

Turkey’s Antalya Diplomacy Forum held a webinar Monday that explored cooperation between Turkey and Africa with the aim of further deepening ties for mutually beneficial outcomes.

The webinar, titled “Africa’s Partnerships: Prospects and Opportunities for Mutually Beneficial Economic Cooperation” was held with the participation of senior African officials.

Turkish Ambassador Osman Yavuzalp, the webinar’s moderator who was Ankara’s envoy to Addis Ababa back in the early 2010s, said Africa’s importance in world affairs was constantly on the rise and the continent would dominate a significant portion of the global population, while its strong growth rate made it a “powerhouse.”

“Such a powerhouse of course remains a priority in every country’s geopolitical and economic consideration. Put simply, Africa is the future of the world, and in this future, Africa’s interaction with the rest of the world is important,” Yavuzalp said in his opening speech.

Stressing that Turkey was aware of the geopolitical significance of Africa, he said it opened 42 embassies in Africa and that the Turkish International Cooperation and Development Agency (TIKA) had 22 coordination centers on the continent.

He further noted that Turkey’s total trade with Africa rose to $25.3 billion as of 2020, which was evidence of the strengthening ties between the two sides.

One of the panelists, Raymond Gilpin, the head of strategy at the Regional Bureau for Africa under the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), said the COVID-19 pandemic has cast a shadow over Africa for the past year.

In 2020, the UNDP’s development index for the continent was negative, a first in the past 25 years, as the pandemic has affected Africa, reversing its hard-won gains of development, and about 40 million Africans were being pushed back to extreme poverty, according to Gilpin.

“We see Africa as the continent of promise,” he said, adding the continent had immense potential, which he said would be realized with efforts in areas such as natural resource governance, youth employment and empowerment, economic transformation and climate change along with peace and sustainable energy.

Hussein Hassan Hussein, acting director of the Department of Trade and Industry at the African Union Commission, said the continent had a consumer potential of 1.2 billion people, and Africa was growing rapidly.

Africa, according to Hussein, could look at a bright future thanks to win-win partnership agreements, a policy used with Turkish counterparts that has paved the way for the further deepening of ties.

Silver Ojakol, chief of staff of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) secretariat, said the AfCFTA deal was negotiated by 55 countries in the continent and 54 of them signed the agreement.

Ojakol stressed that the agreement, where authorities bring together one regime of trade and investment, generated the largest consensus.

Africa is expected to have a population of 2 billion by 2050, corresponding to a quarter of the global population, and its combined GDP currently stands around $3.4 trillion, he argued, stressing that the continent would be a major player in the global arena.

Aden Houssein Abdillahi, Djibouti’s ambassador to Turkey, said Africa had 36 embassies in Turkey and the continent was by far the largest diplomatic group in the country and both sides’ ties were boosted significantly in the recent period as Turkey had 42 embassies in Africa and Turkish Airlines had 60 flight destinations.

“Our relations increased significantly in recent years in the fields of trade, energy, agriculture and education,” he said, adding Turkey currently hosts more than 14,000 African students and provided scholarships for 4,500 students.

He welcomed that the trade volume had surpassed the $25 billion threshold but underlined that it was not enough as both parties had more potential for future investments and collaboration.