Erdogan’s Senegal visit cut short by Ukraine, but Turkey’s presence in Africa on the up: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday oversaw the unveiling of his country’s latest high-profile construction project in Africa – a 50,000-seat stadium on the outskirts of the Senegalese capital Dakar.
Erdogan joined Senegalese President Macky Sall and other African leaders to witness an inaugural football match at the $260 million Diamniadio Olympic Stadium, built by Istanbul-based Summa.
The arena is the latest example of Turkish projects springing up all over Africa – hospitals, airports, power stations, water treatment plants, hotels and factories.
Although Erdogan’s trip to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Senegal, and Guinea Bissau was cut short by the Ukraine crisis, his presence and the building splurge are signs of Turkey’s growing economic interest in Africa.
Erdogan’s personal investment testifies to the value Ankara places on deepening ties. He has visited some 30 states in more than 50 trips to Africa since 2004, reportedly more than any other non-African world leader.
Since Turkey launched a strategy for Africa in 2003, there has been a more than fivefold increase in trade with African states, from $5.4 billion to $30 billion last year. Turkish investment in the continent rose from $100 million to $6.5 billion over the same period.
On the diplomatic front, Turkey now has an embassy in 43 African states, up from just a dozen in 2009.