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Turkish-Africa Relations Session


African Development for African People


Abdi Ismail Samatar, a professor of geography at the University of Minnesota, demonstrated the stages that the African economy passed through as pre-colonial, post-colonial capitalism, and neo-liberal.


The huge and fast-growing population of the African continent creates a pushing forward factor provided by equipped skills and necessary knowledge. In the energy sector, there is a huge opportunity where there is an increasing demand for electricity, Africa, especially, has the resources for producing energy, whether it’s oil reserves, rivers and lakes which allows for the continent to be in a leading position in hydroelectric, wind and solar energy. 


There is the paradox of the colonial economy, the neo-liberal and the reality of the continent which led to a vicious circle over the past decades. The colonial economy was only structured to continue dependence, not for the interest of the people in the continent. States in the post-colonial era failed to transform the economy from disarticulated to articulated economy which is based on production and consumption; furthermore, the economy became degenerative or worse than the colonial one.


Another linked factor is education in the colonial era, which was structured to maintain the colony rather than to create a transformation. There is a need for a new approach which corresponds with the facts and the requirements of the continent in order to tackle the poverty and deprivation, and the importance of an articulated and inclusive economy for Africa.


The critical challenges that Africa faces today include issues like leaders who lack the legitimacy and credibility to lead; states with no vision which are also less capable of forming a new chart for acting on collective continental issues; an economy that has failed to provide productive jobs and living wages for the majority; a fragmented continent and deep skills deficit; and finally, enormous underused natural resources.



Instead of doing every business, it’s better for Africa to focus on very few areas across the continent like the agriculture and food sector by putting the required policies in place and preparing the infrastructure. It is significant to establish an interdependence between African countries in every sector rather than be dependent on other countries like China or India by enabling African companies and firms to undertake projects whether it’s mini or mega ones.



Turkish East African Relations: From Past to Present


Dr. Abdirahman Baadiyow, a prominent Somali scholar and socio-political activist, who currently serves as Senior Advisor at the Office of the Prime Minister, highlighted the roots of Turkey and East Africa in general and Turkey and Somalia in particular.



There are enabling factors of Somali-Turkish Relations which make the two countries bounded strategically. In listing these factors, he mentioned that both countries are frontier Muslim states which are in the frontline of Muslims and Non-Muslims.


The second factor is the geostrategic importance of the two countries where both countries are located geographically in a very vital strategic location. The third factor, which the two nations share, is transported ethnic extensions where the people of the two nations are dispersed in a wide geographical area. The fourth factor is the huge diasporic communities of both countries. Nearly six million Turkish diaspora and two million Somali diasporas live in all countries in the world. The fifth factor they share is an entrepreneurial spirit which both communities have.


Dr. Abdirahman Baadiyow considered Islam as the foundation of Turkish-Somali Relations. Somalis have always offered allegiance to the Muslim Ummah since the penetration of Islam to the Horn of Africa in the 7th century.


Also, the strategic location of Somalia as a country has been endowed with the longest coastline in Africa. Through its territorial waters, more than thirty-three thousand commercial ships pass annually. The strategic geographical location of Somalia is both an asset and liability, attracting multiple superpower revilers, terrorist organizations and pirates.


Despite challenges, the Somali people have shown patience and endurance and created a large private sector in the last two decades; the Somali private sector is also growing at a magnificent level. Also, he mentioned that Somalia has untapped natural resources such as oil, gas and plant full marine resources. Somalia is currently recovering from economic and social destruction, and the political framework has been established.


In terms of the strategic importance of Turkey, Turkey is a rising regional power which connects east to the west. Also, it borders with eight countries and controls a very important strait. The rise of the AK Party to power in 2002 gave a push forward in activating this strategic position to gain a soft power. Dr. ABaadiyow talked about how the Turkish soft power is growing in Somalia due to its successful combination of Islam and democracy and its humanitarian and developmental role in Somalia.


New Turkey and its Foreign Policy Towards Somalia


Prof. Muhittin Ataman, who currently serves as SETA`s Director of Foreign Policy Studies, underlined the main principles of Turkish foreign policy and Turkish-Somalia Relations under the leadership of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.


New Turkey’s foreign policy is characterized by the normalization in terms of reclaiming its civilizational, historical and cultural heritage, and accordingly, Turkey has improved its relations with all related actors.


The second principle is rationalization of Turkish Foreign Policy converting from an ideology-based policy towards rationality, pragmatic and interest-based foreign policy, but a humanitarian one at the same time. Within the framework of the new-Turkish foreign policy, it integrated its economy with the global economy by dealing and investing with a lot of countries across the world.


The third principle is nationalization of Turkish foreign policy. Dr. Ataman told that before the AK Party governance, Turkish foreign policy was directed by NATO and western allies, but now it’s a structured in a way which serves Turkey`s national interests. This principle put forward an outstanding Turkish developmental and humanitarian organization like TIKA, Turkish Red Crescent and the Diyanet Foundation.


The fourth principle is taking initiative and becoming proactive rather than reactive in regional and global issues. The Turkish government augmented its peace mediation in intra and interstate conflicts. Also, the Turkish government started to establish military bases in several countries like Somalia, Qatar, Syria and Iraq to defend its borders and prevent any future threats.


As an emerging global actor, the Turkish government has been trying to create interdependent networks and boost multi-dimensional foreign policy. It became oriented in employing soft power and economy besides improving its security.


Turkey is currently leading opposition to the hegemony of global systems by demanding more political representation for the under-represented states in the world and just world order. Also, Turkey is demanding a United Nations reform.


In the issue of Turkish-Somalia relations, Dr. Ataman told that it’s part of wider Turkish foreign policy towards Africa since it started in 1998. Turkey contributed nearly more than five hundred million dollars to education, humanitarian, state building and infrastructures.


What differentiates Turkey from other foreign actors in Somalia is its presence on the ground and with Somalia opening its biggest embassy in Mogadishu shows how turkey is interested in the stability and development of Somalia. Also, in the last few years, Turkey has organized international conferences to help Somalia. It also played a crucial role in facilitating negotiations between the Somalis.