Esteemed Ministers, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is my distinct pleasure to welcome you all to the Ministerial Meeting of the Second Turkey-Africa Partnership Summit.
I wish to thank Foreign Minister of Mauritania, H.E. Ahmed Ould TEGUEDI, as the Chair of the African Union for his valuable efforts in the preparation of this Summit.
I thank as well the Foreign Minister of Equatorial Guinea, H.E. Agapito Mba MOKUY, for hosting such a historic meeting.
I would also like to express our gratitude to Her Excellency Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, the Chairperson of the African Union Commission for her tireless efforts in preparation of this important summit.
It is indeed a great privilege for me to be here today.
At the outset, let me express my conviction that the Summit will contribute enormously in enhancing our political, economic and social interactions. It will also be a clear testimony to our long-term mutual commitment and will further consolidate Turkey-Africa Partnership.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Africa is clearly taking-off, growing strongly and steadily for nearly two-decades. More than two-thirds of the countries in the Continent have enjoyed ten or more years of uninterrupted growth. The Continent has recorded an annual growth rate of 5 percent over the last decade. Africa is now a growing investment destination from abroad. Africa has now taken its destiny into its own hands.
As regards investment opportunities, agriculture, which still employs two-thirds of Africa’s workforce, can be an area of priority. Africa has 60 percent of the world’s arable land. This can feed not only Africa’s population, but also the whole world.
It is no coincidence that African Union has made 2014 the year of agriculture and food security.
We should establish stronger communication between our business communities by streamlining already existing mechanisms.
We should explore new avenues of cooperation such as building business networks and alliances. With their young populations, Africa and Turkey promise a bright future. We are committed to work together to create synergy between our young entrepreneurs.
Empowerment of women is another aspect of our common agenda. We should explore better ways and means to consolidate the economic and social participation of women in the public and private sector through joint initiatives and projects.
We also believe Africa’s natural beauties offer invaluable opportunities to contribute to the socio-economic development of the Continent. Turkey is ready to share its best practices with the African countries in this regard.
One of our priorities is to connect Africa and Turkey through cultural exchange and cooperation in academic spheres. We aim to contribute to youth empowerment in Africa through scholarship programs. As such, we may build bridges of friendship among future generations.
Health is another field where our partnership has been strengthened in the recent years. We are committed to address the health challenges of the Continent through sharing best practices, conducting health screening campaigns providing in-service training and on-site capacity building programs.
We are also sensitive to the immediate needs of the Continent. Turkey right away mobilized its financial resources to complement the efforts of the affected in their fight against the Ebola epidemic. Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency is working to provide material assistance. We are currently working to finalize an additional support package up to 5 million Dollars that will include both material and financial assistance.
The African Union is a success story having celebrated its 50th anniversary last year. We have witnessed significant accomplishments of the African Union in promoting and enhancing good governance, democracy and economic integration across the Continent.
Along with the African Union, sub-regional organizations have proven themselves as important bodies in regional cooperation.
We are willing to further reach out to regional economic communities in Africa through enhanced dialogue and partnership initiatives.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am happy to say that all areas of cooperation that I just mentioned are all included in the Summit documents which will be presented to the Assembly of our Presidents tomorrow for their endorsement.
Turkey’s Africa policy gained a fresh momentum in 2013. 39 Turkish Embassies across the Continent and 30 Embassies of African countries in Ankara are at our disposal to fulfill our common goal of reaching a mutually beneficial cooperation and partnership.
People to people contacts have gained strength as well. Hundreds of thousands of people are travelling annually between Turkey and the Continent. Today, thousands of people from Africa, study, work and live in Turkey and vice versa.
We happily observe that the Turkish investments are constantly growing. They are employing local labour force, using home-produced resources and exporting final products to third countries.
In the last decade, total trade volume of Turkey with sub-Saharan African countries has increased tenfold. In 2013, Turkey’s bilateral trade volume with all Africa has reached 23 billion Dollars. (first 8 months of 2014: 13 billion Dollars) Our joint aim is to reach the target of 50 billion Dollars by 2018.
The amount of Turkish investment in African countries is now around 6 billion Dollars and is on the rise.
Hundreds of Turkish firms are currently operating across the continent. Turkish contractors are major undertakers in Africa. Their activities in the Continent reached a total of 18 percent in the overall of their international business volume.
The Turkish International Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TİKA) that has been active in Africa with its eleven regional offices is closely cooperating with local institutions for capacity building and technical assistance.
In addition, one third of our Official Development Assistance has been channeled to Africa.
Turkey will assume the G20 Presidency on 1 December 2014 for a year.
2015 will be a year of `development` mainly because of the expected agreement on the UN Post 2015 development agenda.
Therefore, particular focus will be given to addressing the challenges faced by developing countries and better promoting their integration into the world economy. We see Africa’s development as an important issue to be addressed to meet the global economic challenges. To this end, one of our objectives is to address the concerns of the African countries at the G20 platform.
We will also exert every effort to strengthen the dialogue and interaction between the G-20 and Africa.
We are planning to have an event which will bring together G20 and developing countries. African countries will also be invited to this event. Outreach activities in Africa will be intensified during our G-20 Presidency.
Dear Colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen,
On this occasion, we have prepared a photo exhibition to highlight the concrete achievements and progress we have registered so far. We are presenting you a number of pictures and some brief information on our partnership activities that Turkey has conducted jointly with African countries. I would like to invite you all to have a glance at the exhibition which is on display in the Conference Hall corridor.
As a last word, I thank you all for the support you have so generously provided for the success of Turkish-African relations.