A high-level Turkish government and business delegation headed by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan recently returned from Africa after visiting Algeria, Mauritania, Senegal and Mali. This trip is the continuation of a series of visits and initiatives undertaken by Turkey as part of its official policy of “Opening to Africa” which began in 2005. As Turkey’s business interest in the continent has grown over the past decade, the Atlantic Council Turkey office hosted Dr. J. Peter Pham, Vice President for Research and Regional Initiatives and Director of the Africa Center at the Atlantic Council, for a roundtable discussion on March 19, 2018 on the opportunities and challenges presented by selected African countries in 2018 for investors as well as rules for success in this dynamic continent which presents extraordinary potential for growth but also extraordinary challenges.
The Turkish President’s most recent trip followed his frequent visits to the continent over the past years. Since 2015, Erdogan has visited Ethiopia, Djibouti, Somalia, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Mozambique, Madagascar, Sudan, Chad and Tunisia and since first becoming Prime Minister in 2003, Erdogan has visited a total of 23 countries 39 times
. Turkey’s policy choice of engaging with Africa has resulted in the increase of the Turkey’s bilateral trade volume
with the continent three-fold since 2003 to reach $18.8 billion in 2017. Trade volume with Sub-Saharan Africa stood at $6 billion in 2015 and total Turkish investment in Africa is estimated to have surpassed $6 billion. Currently, Ankara has diplomatic representation in 41 countries on the continent, an increase of 12 missions since 2009, while state-controlled Turkish Airlines now flies to 51 destinations in 33 African countries.