Turkey's Erdogan goes on charm offensive in West Africa

Thursday October 14 2021

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. PHOTO | ADEM ALTAN | AFP


Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will make a four-day visit to Angola, Nigeria and Togo next week.

“He will arrive in Angola on Sunday for a 24-hour visit with economic and diplomatic points on the agenda, and then move to Nigeria and Togo,” the Angolan Foreign Affairs ministry said in a statement on Thursday.

The talks will also include discussions on the Fethullah Gulen organisation, which Turkey has classified as a terrorist group.

Mr Gulen, an exiled Islamic preacher, based in the United States, is accused of organising a coup against President Erdogan in 2016.

The cleric, whom the US has refused to deport to Turkey for insufficient evidence, is associated with many educational institutions globally, including Africa.

Turkey has been on a charm offensive in Africa, increasing its diplomatic representation on the continent to 43 from 12 in 2002. According to Turkish data, trade between the country and Africa has ballooned to $26 billion from $5.5 billion in 2003.


Istanbul will host the third Turkey-Africa Economic and Business Forum between October 21 andn23 and the third Turkey-Africa Partnership Summit on December 18.

President Erdogan’s visit comes as Turkish Airlines began two weekly direct flights from Istanbul to Luanda on Wednesday.

During Angola President João Lourenço visit to Turkey in July, 10 bilateral cooperation agreements were signed, including the air connection.

Mr Erdogan’s visit to Angola will be the first for a Turkish president.

Oil production

Meanwhile, President Lourenço on Wednesday invited investors to explore business opportunities in the country, including oil exploration.

Angola is the third-largest oil producer in Africa.

President Lourenço, who addressed by videoconference the plenary session of the fourth International Forum “Russian Energy Week” taking place in Moscow, said that Angola had restructured its oil sector as it eyes more production.