African Trade Centers help Turkish companies expand their footprint in Africa, the founder of the centers said, adding that they aim to make Turkey one of the main contributors in Africa’s industrialization journey.
Around 280 manufacturers and exporters from Turkey came together with nearly 1,000 businesspeople from Africa, drawing attention to its 1.5 billion population and annual import potential of over $1 trillion, at the sixth World Intersectoral Cooperation Forum held in the capital Ankara Wednesday.
African representatives of 741 companies from 41 countries, which make up 82% of the country’s population, attended the event, African Trade Centers founder Utku Bengisu told Anadolu Agency (AA).
“There are more than 300 organized industrial zones in Turkey. The point our industry has reached in the last 20 years is indisputable. We have made great strides. We also produce high-tech products. We want to be the country that makes the main contribution to Africa’s industrialization journey by sharing this experience with them,” he said.
Underlining that the population of Nigeria is 220 million and that it will reach 840 million by 2100, Bengisu added Turkey wants to be a part of the industrial transformation where it will also produce and develop regional trade with a strategic mind and vision for the future.
Expressing that the organization’s main aim is to understand the “African policy” that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan frequently emphasizes and to make Turkish companies turn their route to Africa with the same motivation, Bengisu said, “We want to provide new networks for this.”
“When we look at the imports of Africa, we see that China, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), India, South Africa and the European Union countries have a very large share. The reason for this share is the motivation of the rising new generation economic class of Africa, namely the traders, to constantly sell those goods in the market,” said Bengisu, pointing out that they invite African businesspeople to have Turkish goods as a new option on the table.
Referring to the organization’s history and its contribution to the companies, Bengisu said that they held the first event in 2017 in southern Antalya province. Stating that they aimed to attract producers who had never worked with each other in Turkey and Africa to create a framework for the future at that time, Bengisu said: “Our first delegation came from Sierra Leone. At that time,our trade volume was close to zero. Every year, we made progress, even during the COVID-19 pandemic. One of our companies from Izmir sold 62 containers of goods to Sierra Leone.”
“Currently, Turkey ranks sixth in this country’s imports with a share of 6.5%. This is the benefit of this forum: Bringing Turkish companies that have never been to Africa together with it and creating a Turkish product horizon for African traders who have never bought Turkish goods,” he added.
Explaining that a furniture company participating in the forum first opened an office abroad in Ethiopia and increased the number of its offices to six over the years, Bengisu said that the company transported its machines from Turkey to Ethiopia to manufacture furniture.
Stating that many businesspeople want to invest in Africa, Bengisu said: “Africa’s population is increasing. You cannot feed this population just by purchasing.”
African expansion in defense
Meanwhile, Turkey’s defense exports to African countries in the first two months of this year jumped by 608% compared to the same period of the previous year, contributing to the total defense exports of the record $138.6 million in the said period.
The sector, which reshapes export markets with global developments and fairs, also continues to deepen its relations through defense industry cooperation agreements signed with more than 25 African countries, including Niger, Rwanda, Senegal, Congo, Mali and Nigeria.
While African countries were the fifth-largest market in exports in the first 11 months of 2021, they rose to rank second after North America, which exported $141 million in the first two months of this year.
Global developments and fairs pave the way for exports in defense. The sector aims to further strengthen its export network in the surrounding countries by participating in the African Aerospace and Defense Fair in South Africa on Sept. 21-25.
The great interest of African companies in the fairs in 2021 and 2022 brings with it the expectation of an increase in exports.
Burkina Faso is one of the countries that has drawn attention with its increase in exports, with $386,000 in the first two months of last year becoming $83.2 million in the same period this year.