Geographically, Turkey is a bridge between Europe and Asia. Due to its location, surrounded by sea on three sides, Turkey has always been the center of great trade, Europe, the Middle East, and African culture.
Besides its geographical importance, Turkey has been playing an important role in world exports for many years as a major producer.
For Turkey, which ranks 27th among the global exporters, the African continent has been an important target and strategy partner since the beginning of the 2000s.
Turkey's attempt to accelerate its political, military, cultural and economic relations with African countries started with the "Opening to Africa Action Plan" prepared in 1998.
This plan gained momentum in 2002. And, in 2005, the "Year of Africa" was declared in Turkey. In the same year, Turkey became an observer in the African Union.
The African continent has recently become a region where Turkey attaches special importance to its relations. It is also possible to accept this as an important indicator of Turkey’s multilateral foreign policy understanding.
Turkey, thanks to its developed industry and qualified workforce, as well as its experience in the international market, makes significant efforts to improve its relations with African countries.
In this direction, it is very important to increase mutual trade volume with African partners in the continent and to develop these connections through new partnerships.
The number of Turkey's embassies in Africa was 12 in the early 2000s, this number increased to 42 by 2020. There are daily flights from Turkey to almost all African countries.
Drawing attention to Turkey's opening to Africa in parallel with the general development process, the experts in the continent give place to the expressions of a new partner and a global player.
In this context, Turkey is shown among the four rising partners of Africa, along with countries such as China, India and Brazil. When we look at the commercial data, Turkey's trade with the African continent was around 4.3 billion dollars in the early 2000s, and it increased to about 15 billion dollars in 2020.
Undoubtedly, Turkey's economic relations with African countries will increasingly continue in the coming period.
When we look at the commercial relations between Turkey and Rwanda, we see that there has been an increasing business volume over the years.
We know that these commercial developments are especially in the food products, construction, machinery and textile fields. On the basis of figures, there has been significant growth in the commercial volume between Turkey and Rwanda in the last 10 years.
The business volume, which was approximately 10M $ in 2013, reached 40M $ in 2017. Unfortunately, due Covid-19, it decreased to 27M $ in 2020.
In East Africa, we see that Turkey's pie is bigger. In 2020, a total of 516M $ of products (foodstuff, construction materials, textile, household appliances, industrial machines) were exported from Turkey to the countries of the East African Community. These countries are respectively; Kenya – 227M $, Tanzania – 200M $, Uganda – 53 M $, Rwanda – 27M $, South Sudan – 6M $, Burundi – 3M $
Although this 516M $ seems to be a low figure among Turkey's total exports of 170 Billion $ in 2020, it gained a very positive momentum compared to previous years and entered into a significant upward trend.
With both its cultural and historical partnerships, Turkey has always been the European neighbour and industrial solution partner of East African countries. Exporting the best quality products to the world market at reasonable prices, Turkey is an important manufacturer for Rwanda and East African countries.
I believe that the commercial, economic, touristic, and cultural activities between Turkey and Rwanda will increase in the coming years.
The author is the Export Sales Manager in charge of Africa at Pakmaya, Pak Holding - a Turkish-based company.