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Turkey’s Energy Diversification Strategy in Sub-Saharan Africa

Since 2003, by instituting a multidimensional foreign policy, Turkey has aimed to reach new geographies and regions by creating and using her soft power. A growing economy, historical connections with the targeted regions and close relations with western societies have resulted in a better reputation for Turkey, both in her region, and globally.

Turkey s Energy Diversification Strategy in Sub-Saharan Africa
The Zambia Minister of Energy, Christopher Yaluma, gave a speech in Africa Energy Forum organized in İstanbul. AA PHOTO / BÜLENT DORUK

Currently, Turkey’s growing economy compels the private sector to find new energy resources. As an energy dependent country, Turkey has to generate enough electricity and find enough hydrocarbons to meet its economic growth. Sub-Saharan Africa is thus one of the targeted regions for Turkey’s foreign policymakers and energy strategists alike, as Turkey seeks to find new resources by expanding its impact in new regions. At the same time, Turkey aims to have these countries’ support in multilateral institutions. 

Turkey’s relations with Sub-Saharan African can be separated in two periods after the AK Party came to power. The first period began in 2005 with the official announcement of “Africa Year” in Turkey. At this time, Turkey focused on implementing humanitarian aid to the continent through institutions such as TIKA (the Turkish Cooperation and Development Agency) and the Ministry of Religious Affairs. Another significant development during this period was that the number of Turkish Airlines flights to Africa, and Turkish embassies on the continent boomed, which facilitated logistical services for business. The second period saw Turkey begin to develop an energy strategy established on the basis of mutual benefit. By 2010, Turkey had started to develop bilateral energy relations by signing Memorandums of Understanding with the Sub-Saharan African countries. During this period, Turkish business people launched relations with Sub-Saharan countries in coherence with the Government-to-Government relations. Despite this progress, however, there are still not enough energy relations between Turkey and Africa’s Sub-Saharan countries. Businesses and the government anticipate more coherent and sustainable energy relations in what is expected to characterize the third period, by 2023.

Turkey’s aims to attain a high level of democracy, has triggered foreign investment in Turkey




Energy is a phenomenon that impacts not only individuals but also the foreign policy making process. In terms of the geopolitics of Turkey, energy is always a dilemma, not only due to the delicate task of balancing of energy supply security with other concerns, but also for energy’s role in driving foreign policy in the direction of forming coherent bilateral relations with neighbours. 

The election of the one party government of the Justice and Development (AK) Party in 2002 changed the mind-set behind Turkey’s foreign policymaking process. In the midst of the political stability and economic growth that followed the AK Party’s election, Turkey’s new foreign policy addressed the need not only to adapt Turkey to the post millennium order, but also to secure Turkey’s energy supply. In the post millennium period, national and trans-national actors are becoming more influential. Joseph Nye, pioneer of the theory of “soft power,” argues that the “horizontal and vertical dimensions of the foreign policy making process change its characteristics.1 To implement and reflect the power in the society, statecraft necessitates a greater use of the soft instruments of trans-national actors such as social media and multilateral institutions.2 In this regard, the major changes in Turkish foreign policymaking can be sequenced as follows: 

First and foremost, whilst conventional Turkish foreign policy was security-oriented, the AK Party has preferred to set a new foreign policy focused on trade as NGOs, think-tanks, and business initiatives have been welcomed to engage in the policymaking process.3 This shift has resulted in a multidimensional foreign policy understanding that is being implemented in the foreign policy making process for the first time since Turgut Özal’s presidency. 

Secondly, the interconnection between economic growth and political stability, along with Turkey’s aims to attain a high level of democracy, has triggered foreign investment in Turkey. In fact, to spur economic development, the government has focused on attracting foreign direct investment by opening new markets. In particular, the privatisation of Turkey’s formerly state-owned companies was one of the most effective ways to attract foreign investors to the country. To illustrate this, while Turkey’s privatisation revenue was a mere $8 billion between 1986 and 2003, since 2004 this number has reached $56 billion.4 While the domestic economy and politics were going well, the growing economy, political successes leading toward EU negotiations, and the establishment of good ties with the U.S. created positive press for Turkey internationally, especially in the regions that have been connected with Turkey historically, such as the Balkans, the Middle East, Caucasia, Europe and Africa. 

Thirdly, the AK Party has incorporated a number of game-changing principles into its foreign policy that work in harmony with its energy strategy, such as interdependence, zero problems with neighbours, and soft power. Fourthly, Turkey has focused on reaching new regions by creating and relying more on soft power and interdependence with the counterparts.5 For instance, interdependence between Turkey and Middle Eastern countries were implemented successfully to the bilateral relations with the regional countries for a decade. Whilst these proactive strategies transformed foreign policy, Turkey’s economic growth created a strong demand for energy. Therefore, it can be said that one of the major impulses behind changing Turkey’s foreign policy was to reach new energy resources in order to meet increasing domestic demand. Being an energy dependent country has forced the government to find new hydrocarbon and mineral resources; as it does so, Turkish business people are discovering new investment infrastructures. 

This article examines and discusses how economic growth has forced Turkey to open new geographies, not only for finding fossil fuel, but also as investment opportunities for Turkish business. In order to cover the issue, Turkey’s Sub-Saharan Africa Strategic Partnership is analysed. 

In this regard, firstly, Turkey’s energy needs are assessed and secondly, there is a discussion of how African energy resources could be helpful for Turkey. Thirdly, the importance of soft power in reaching the Sub-Saharan African countries’ (SSA) hydrocarbons resources and minerals is explained. Fourthly, the Africa Strategic Partnership and Turkey’s energy relations with SSA countries are analysed chronologically. 



Turkey’s Growing Energy Gap

Turkey’s lack of natural gas and oil reserves has always made energy security a challenge. A heavy reliance on fossil fuels in Turkey’s power sector has made economic growth fragile, as it has resulted in significant budget deficits for many years. At the same time, economic growth and energy growth remain strongly correlated. Energy growth statistics illustrate the rise of Turkey’s economy in the last decade.6 As an illustration, power installed capacity has doubled; comparing the period of 1923, the year the Turkish Republic was established, and the new millennium, what was less than 30.000 MW increased to 70.000 MW in 2015.7 The numbers show that during the last decade installed capacity has been added at the rate of at least 5000 MW annually. The Ministry of Energy expects that this number will reach 120.000 MW by 2023. In 2014 alone, 7000 MW were added to the installed capacity.8

Economic growth drives not only energy demand, but also the consumption of oil products and natural gas resources. In terms of fossil fuel, Turkey has no domestic capacity to meet her economy’s needs. Thus a growth in Turkey’s energy imports as a proportion of total energy consumption has contributed significantly to the budget deficit. For instance, in 2011, Turkey’s fossil fuel imports accounted for $54.1 billion out of a $77.1 billion budget deficit, which equals 70.2 percent.9 The main reason behind the energy deficit is the fact that Turkey imports significant amounts of oil and natural gas. Turkish Petroleum (TP), the government owned biggest oil firm, is capable only of producing roughly 100.000 barrels/day out of 800.000 barrels/day oil products consumption.10 In the same way, the production of natural gas only covers 1 percent of the consumption of natural gas, which was 48 billion cubic meters (BCM) in 2014.11 In other words, 99 percent of the total consumption is imported. In conclusion, reducing energy costs is vitally important for Turkey’s national budget. The high price of imported energy severely affects economic growth, as well as the costs of any industries in the economy. Focusing on finding new energy resources, therefore, is one of the major pillars of Turkey’s new foreign policy. 



Africa’s Energy Resources 

In recent years, Africa’s economy has been growing faster than that of other regions in the world due to the new discoveries of oil and natural gas resources. Yet, although Africa’s economic growth is a positive development for the continent, some serious obstacles still exist, which prevent stable and sustainable economic and social development. Poverty, unemployment, and illiteracy still remain among the problems of the continent. There is no argument that the possession of significant hydrocarbon resources is not enough to overcome their unfortunate fate and to bring Africa up to a modern standard of living in a short period of time. 

With that said, the sufferings of African societies over energy access do not seem likely to last forever. Recent explorations in SSA have been significant enough to attract the attention of global energy companies. The International Energy Agency recently demonstrated that SSA holds 7 percent of the world’s total conventional oil and 6 percent of the world’s natural gas resources.12 In addition, East African coastal deep-sea explorations demonstrate that over 13 trillion cubic meters (TCM) of natural gas reserves and 41 billion barrels of oil are waiting to be found.13 The International Energy Agency estimates that there are still 52 trillion cubic meters (TCM) of recoverable conventional gas in SSA deep-sea fields.14 In terms of proven reserves, 9 TCM gas have already been found, which equals 9 percent of the global proven reserves.15 Therefore, it is clear that the future of energy development for Africa looks very promising. 

However, the recent fall in oil prices caused problems for the companies operating in SSA, because of the high costs of deep-sea explorations. In other words, although East Africa has considerably prolific fields, it is not easy to extract oil and gas from those fields given the current low prices. Nevertheless, low oil prices bring another opportunity for companies such as Turkish Petroleum to become shareholders in SSA regional oil companies. It can be argued that the drop in oil prices creates an advantageous situation for TP to engage in SSA. 

On the other hand, energy access is one of the toughest problems for Sub-
Saharan Africa. Only 200 million out of around 900 million people have access to electricity and that is generally half-day access even in the capitals of the countries. This severe shortage of essential electricity infrastructure undermines efforts to achieve rapid social and economic development.16 To illustrate the scale of this lack, if South Africa is excluded, the energy production of the whole of Africa is only half of the 40000 MW available to New York City in electricity consumption.17 This chronic situation prevents the indigenous people from having basic access to light in the evening, cooking facilities for food, and many other functions of electricity that would support Africans in upgrading to a more modern lifestyle. Four-fifths of the population still relies on the traditional use of solid biomass, mainly wood fuel, for cooking. In conclusion, power supply, as the basic necessity of modern life, is a challenging issue for Sub-Saharan Africa. 

Maintaining a Muslim identity while synthesising western values as a Muslim democracy has resulted in the coining of the term, the “Turkish Model”

The continent’s energy access problems and economic difficulties coexisting with extremely significant fossil fuel reserves comprise a dilemma for SSA. Turkish Petroleum and Turkish construction companies’ intentions to find tangible solutions for SSA could result in mutual benefits for both sides. Whilst Turkish constructors can contribute energy infrastructure to the African countries, TP operations in SSA could assist Turkey in improving its energy security in the mid term.



The Importance of Soft Power for Turkey-Africa Energy Relations

As Nye defines it, soft power is the ability to influence others by using cooperative instruments to achieve desired outcomes, to persuade and to create a positive impact.18 Nye goes on to explain the tenets that drive soft power: the historical, cultural and popularity of a country drive its relations to reach a better level with its neighbours and in broader regions. In other words, historical connections, cultural similarities or the ability of one country to influence another in terms of economic emergence and political stability, translate into distinct advantages when it comes to establishing stable, consistent bilateral relations. When considering the ability of Turkey to influence SSA countries, Turkey has a long history in Northern and Sub-Saharan Africa that connected both cultures for ages. The presence of Ottomans in North Africa by the beginning of the 15th century created a synergy between the two sides that composes the foundation of Turkey’s soft power today. Turkish Prime Minister Dr. Ahmet Davutoğlu emphasises in his book Strategic Depth that Turkey has an historical legacy, strategic location and cultural ties with its neighbour regions. Diversity and the existence of plenty of sub-identities inside of the country that occurred in Anatolia with pre and post Ottoman Empire, has become an impetus for Turkish foreign policy; these factors enhance the country’s capacity for developing bilateral relations.19

Another significant factor is the fact that Turkey’s history in the region is not a colonial one, which gives Turkey a positive appearance in the eye of many Africans. Turkey is not a western or eastern country for the Africans; rather, it is a country that is succeeding in creating a modern democracy and in demonstrating consistent economic growth.

Turkey’s ability to exert soft power over the last decade, furthermore, has had a significant impact on Turkey–Africa relations. The main ground for Turkey’s soft power is the notion of the harmonisation of Islam with western democratic secular statecraft. Maintaining a Muslim identity while synthesising western values as a Muslim democracy has resulted in the coining of the term, the “Turkish Model.”20 Moreover, the enthusiasm of the AK Party between 2004 and 2010 for using EU standards as a benchmark for reaching a better level of democracy and economic regulation proved attractive to the regional countries.21 In other words, Turkey’s robust economy and success in being a better democracy have become points of leverage for its soft power. Kemal Kirişçi argues that Turkey’s success in balancing secularism, democracy and Islam during the AK Party period encouraged the Arab countries to move toward democratisation.22 Therefore, Turkey’s “charm offensive” has not only attracted foreign investors, but also the idea of being a Muslim democracy itself created more attraction, and that also has had a positive impact on Turkey’s economic growth.

More recently, however, there have been some developments that have negatively impacted Turkey’s ability to use soft power. The political conflicts on Turkey’s southern border resulting from the post Arab Spring period have created a sensitive situation. The structural fluctuation in the Middle East was out of Turkey’s control, and has affected Turkey’s soft power algorithm in a negative way.23 As a result, Turkey’s ability to influence the regional countries has become considerably limited. It can be argued, therefore, that Turkey’s new foreign policy is testing itself and performing damage control in the face of these recent difficulties. 

In spite of the fact that Turkey’s soft power has fluctuated recently, these developments are temporary. Talha Köse has suggested that the limitations of Turkey’s soft power capacity in the post Arab Spring period are not related to the question of whether or not it has failed, but only to the question of how long this impact will last. Besides, the economy is still growing; Turkey’s GDP growth rate was 2.9 percent in 2014 and its financial system is still powerful.24 Therefore, it can be argued that Turkey’s soft power still provides to some countries a good example in regions such as Sub-Saharan Africa. 



Turkey’s Strategic Partnership and Energy Relations with Sub-Saharan Africa

Turkey’s opening to Africa is a result of both Turkey’s domestic transformation and changes in the global political economy.25 Energy relations between Turkey and the SSA countries can be assessed within two periods. The first period began officially in 1998 with the Africa Action Plan (AAP).26 However, influential impacts and governmental policies did not start until 2005, with the government’s declaration of “the Year of Africa.” The second period started in 2010 with the enforcement of the ‘Africa Strategy Paper’ and continued in 2014 with the Second Africa–Turkey Forum. These periods are crucially important to understanding Turkey’s stance towards SSA. 


Period I: Establishing and Strengthening Relations

In spite of the reality of historical connections between the two sides, in terms of foreign policy and trade relations, Africa was quite a new topic to consider in when it came to Turkey’s international strategies. The first attempt to establish a consistent policy began when the Turkish government signed the AAP in 1998. The significance of the AAP is that it marks the first time Turkey began to focus on Africa by organizing a framework that outlined the main pillars of the relationship in order to develop it. The AAP planned to realize high level visits between African countries and Turkey, provide humanitarian assistance, and increase the number of diplomatic missions in Africa. It included agreements to improve bilateral trade and economic relations by organizing reciprocal visits for Turkish and African business people.27 However, the AAP did not succeed as expected. Domestic political crises in Turkey at the very beginning of the new millennium prevented Turkey from focusing on its primary foreign objectives, including the AAP. For instance, even though the Under Secretariat for Foreign Trade in early 2003 prepared the Strategy on the Development of Economic Relations with African Countries, it was difficult to implement the AAP agreements through economic and trade relations.28

Despite these setbacks, Turkey’s relations with Africa became gained momentum after the installation of the AK Party governments. In 2005, a “Year of Africa” was declared to attract the attention of Turks towards Africa. The major reasons behind Turkey’s Africa Initiative are two-fold. First of all, the AK Party was aiming to establish a multi-dimensional foreign policy, and Africa was one of the targeted regions mainly because of the potential for trade and the potential for Africa’s energy resources to contribute to Turkey’s energy security. Another reason behind the initiative was to garner the African countries’ support within the network of Turkey’s multilateral relations. 

Since 2003, both trade and Turkey’s support to indigenous people in Sub-
Saharan Africa has risen meteorically. Governmental institutions such as the Turkish Cooperation Coordination Agency (TIKA) and the Presidency of Religious Affairs (DIB) as well as dozens of NGO’s launched Turkish assistance to local societies. To take one example, TIKA, as one of the most influential institutions, has created an incredible impact through regional representation branches in 11 countries. TIKA has managed to finish around 550 small and mid-scale projects in Africa by giving grants that assist in increasing Turkish visibility on the continent.29 As a result, these initiatives have created a positive image for Turkey, contributing to the Turkish “charm offensive” in Africa. Another illustration of the increasing relations between the sides is the rise in reciprocal official visits between the countries. Between 2003 and 2015 Turkey held 9 official visits at the presidential level, and 6 official visits of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, in return for 17 African presidents’ visits to Turkey.30 Therefore, it can be seen that Africans welcomed Turkey and its business people quickly. 

Africa has a new energy investment potential and Turkey does not have the luxury of ignoring it

While Turkey was “re-discovering” Sub-Saharan Africa, western media questioned Turkey’s presence in the continent by promoting the argument that Turkey would attempt to be a political leader in Africa. The Financial Times claimed that the Erdoğan Government was moving away from the European markets and trying to be in the front line across the globe by developing eastern relations as well as African aspirations.31 The rise of political sensitivities with the EU and the U.S. since the Syria uprising began, moreover, gave an opportunity for some to speak loudly about the idea of a shift in the axis of Turkey toward eastern blocs. The endeavours of establishing warm bilateral relations with eastern counterparts such as Iraq, Kurdish Regional Government, Iran and criticizing the west for not intervening to Egypt and Syria cases created some negative pressure on Turkey in western block. 

However, developing close ties with Africa does not mean that Turkey has distanced itself from either the EU or any other blocs globally. Another point that needs to be highlighted is that the presence of Europeans in Africa goes back hundreds of years and yet nobody accuses Europeans of a shift in axis in their strategies. What Turkey aims at is developing a relationship based on mutual benefit, which assists in solving the African’s energy access problem, while Turkey searches for possible opportunities in the oil and natural gas business. In conclusion, the first period of the relationship was an attempt by Turkey that can be understood as planting the seeds of soft power. This initiative ended up improving Turkey’s reputation in the SSA, which in turn opens up opportunities for Turkish businesses to invest in more challenging sectors such as energy and infrastructure. The increasing Turkish awareness of SSA facilitates the next step towards Turkish business pre-eminence in the region.


Period II: Bilateral Relations Increase on the Basis of Mutual Benefits

In the aftermath of 2005, Turkish initiatives in Sub-Saharan Africa created numerous business opportunities. As Eyrica Tepeciklioglu mentions, Africa has a new energy investment potential and Turkey does not have the luxury of ignoring it,32 whilst the lack of business models specific for Africa and financial incapacities were other disadvantages of Turkey. After signing the Strategic Partnership agreement with SSA in 2008, the ‘Africa Opening’ became the ‘Africa Strategic Partnership.’33 Whilst the basis of the relations has been constructively changing, logistical developments have brought about significant progress in relations. One of the smart steps on the part of the Turkish government was to improve logistical capabilities in Sub-Saharan Africa. Turkish Airlines succeeded in commencing operations to 46 destinations that facilitate getting Turkish business people to the field.34 Moreover, Turkey has opened 39 embassies on the continent and become the most active embassy-opening country in a decade. These fundamental steps facilitated not only Turkish business visits, but also ministerial visits to the continent. In this regard, the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources (MENR) established three major policies to develop energy relations with SSA Countries. 

Turkey has also played a leading role in solving the SSA energy access problem by bringing this issue to the G20

Firstly, signing the Memorandums of Understanding (MoU’s) is intended to establish the relations officially. To date, there have been nine MoU’s signed, with South Africa (in the field of minerals), Djibouti, Cameroon, Niger, Sudan, Kenya, Gambia, Mauritania, and Tanzania (in the field of minerals), and thirteen Mou’s are waiting for the bureaucratic process to be completed, with Nigeria, Somali, Gabon, Ghana, Ethiopia, Namibia, Uganda, Equatorial Guinea, Somaliland, Botswana, Mozambique, Zambia, and Burkina Faso. The purpose of the MoU’s is to develop energy relations in the field of minerals, power and hydrocarbons.35 To sum up, work on energy relations has begun, forming the ground for future developments. 

Secondly, MENR organizes training for electricity distribution, generation and mineral research engineers. It should be highlighted that African engineers are in need of training. Due to the lack of good educational institutions, African professionals are suffering from the difficulty of finding well-educated experts. They are demanding to find either professional experts or training to educate their engineers. In general, the nature of the training that MENR offers is that of organizing visits for a group of engineers to come to Turkey by providing them with site tours, conferences and workshops related to their professions. To date, there have been eight training programs, with Libya, Sudan, South Sudan, Djibouti, Ethiopia and Kenya, in the fields of oil, mining, and electricity generation. Vocational training for Cameroon and Niger is planned.36 Turkey can make a large contribution in a short time by training African engineers. 

The final step MENR is taking is the organizing of official visits, namely ‘Energy Team visits,’ to SSA. The purpose of the Energy Teams mechanism is to reduce Turkey’s dependence on imported energy resources by discovering the potential business opportunities and to encourage Turkish investments abroad. Energy Teams are generated from public and private sector representatives, by gathering together a group of government-owned companies, bureaucrats and businesspeople, and focusing on specific projects in a country. In particular, what an Energy Team does is pay a few days visit, organizing meetings with the relevant ministers, including the chamber of commerce, and arranging site tours. In addition, the Turkish entrepreneurs get a chance to see possible investment opportunities in the visited countries. The gathering together of a group of Turkish entrepreneurs and officials results in networking opportunities, which provides more confidence in considering the possible political risks among the investors. To date, there have been three Energy Team visits to SSA, to Niger, Sudan and Tanzania respectively.37 In conclusion, it can be clearly seen that after establishing the Africa Strategic Partnership, humanitarian goals have been developed with business-focused strategies, based on mutual benefits for both sides. The Africa policy of MENR, furthermore, strengthens Turkey’s Africa Strategy as one of its main pillars. 

Turkey has also played a leading role in solving the SSA energy access problem by bringing this issue to the G20. Under the presidency of Turkey, MENR brought the problem of access to SSA energy to the energy sustainability working group agenda under the G20, which is the first time G20 countries have focused on the least developed countries’ problems. In this way, the World Bank, the United Nations’ “Sustainable Energy for All” initiative, the African Development Bank and member countries would create a synergy by gathering their experiences and airing their concerns, which will result in a road map for solving the problem in both the short and long term. 

However, while the strengthened relations have been building, some problems remain. In 2014, the second Turkey-Africa Strategic Partnership summit was held in Malabo. The Summit was held under the theme of A New Model of Partnership for the Strengthening of Sustainable Development and Integration.38 As a result of this conference, the Summit adopted a Declaration and Joint Implementation Plan for the period of 2015 to 2019. Yet, between 2008 and 2014, apart from the governmental relations and some business initiatives, there have not been enough examples of either Turkey’s investment in the continent or any agreement to provide fossil fuel from SSA to Turkey. The pace of development in the relations was slower than expected from the African side. 

From the very beginning of the Africa Opening Strategy, Turkish relations with Africa have boomed

Nevertheless, although the steps have been limited so far, the intentions of the private sector are promising. Some Turkish developers have set up power projects in SSA. It should be noted that providing natural gas or oil from the SSA reserves to the indigenous population is a difficult task involving numerous operations that will take time to implement. In terms of other kinds of power projects, however, Karadeniz Holding has signed an agreement to provide 450 MW electricity for ten years to Ghana. This energy will be generated by a gas power plant built in a ship, providing an output which equals 20 percent of Ghana’s currently installed capacity.39 Moreover, TP is seriously looking at the fields in the continent, as previously mentioned. In conclusion, there have been some developments since the first Africa Summit in 2008 and there are, also, some obstacles that need to be dealt with in order for Turkey to form coherent and consistent future relations with SSA. 



Concluding Remarks: A Promising Future for Africa Energy

In recent years, the developments in SSA have attracted attention to the continent. Energy infrastructure projects are one of the key factors for reaching high growth rates in SSA. Opening energy potentials to foreign investors is advantageous for the SSA countries. Recently Africa has been seen as the rising region of the world with regard to its rate of development and investment. To date, China, Brazil, India and Turkey are the countries which have made the most investments in the region. Turkey is willing to engage more with Africa and pays attention to establishing relations on the basis of mutual benefits. Turkey can meet the hydrocarbon and mineral demand from a region, while at the same time contributing new energy plants to the regional societies for accessing energy, which is one of the biggest problems facing the whole continent. 

From the very beginning of the Africa Opening Strategy, Turkish relations with Africa have boomed. Turkey’s trade volume with SSA countries was $742 million in 2000; it reached $20 billion in 2014.40 In this regard, analysing what has been achieved so far may give an incentive for reaching better relations in the future.

Although SSA is a relatively new topic for Turkish government and business, the MENR strategy towards Africa has created a promising synergy not only for Turkish entrepreneurs, but for Africans as well. MoU’s, training and Energy Team mechanisms are vital to developing bilateral relations and strengthening the base for business. Yet, there are still fundamental political problems in SSA, which is a high risk part of the world. That is the reason why the Turkish government, first of all, can develop a model that shares the political risk for the sake of Turkish entrepreneurs. In terms of a business model, being a shareholder of any project consortium along with government owned companies would lighten the Turkish businessperson’s way in SSA. Therefore, it is expected that MENR will create a business model for engaging more with energy projects in SSA. 

The second point is that lack of finance prevents Turkish business from investing in SSA. In terms of financial funds, there are quite capable countries such as China. This is the reason why the financial capability of Turkish Eximbank should be expanded. To summarise, the Turkish treasury should constitute an Africa Investment Fund to provide reasonable financial support for the investment projects. As one of the top three donor countries, Turkey’s economy is capable enough to share a specific investment fund for Africa, to embody the partnership intentions towards Africa. The possibility of collaborations with other countries should also be considered and developed. 

Thirdly, Turkey has a significant capability in the construction sector. Turkish constructors are second in the world, just after China.41 Taking advantage of this capability, Turkish constructors can materialise the potential hydro power plants projects, specifically in the east of the continent, where the fresh water resources are incredibly rich. 

Fourthly, Turkey can create a huge impact through its training programs. Specifically in the short term, Turkey is capable of giving enough training to African engineers, such as in the field of transmission, distribution of electricity and mineral research and development, which also assists in creating soft power in their local societies as well. This will, moreover, assist Turkish counterparts to learn more about their capacities and incapability in those specific fields, countries and culture. Moreover, the training curriculum could be enriched by the addition of some executive MBA programmes of the Turkish universities. It may be considered that Turkey’s information exchange and provision of training activities will make significant contributions to the long-term relationships.

On the other hand, in terms of political and economic stability in the continent, infrastructural deficiencies, domestic turbulence in many countries and the relative deficiency of democratic systems force investors to remain cautious. Therefore, in spite of the fact that the explorations are very promising in SSA, owning the revenue from the production of oil and natural gas takes time. In addition, implementing solutions for the energy access problem necessitates reducing the political risk and developing new financial models to precede energy infrastructure investments. Overall, opportunities and risks in the continent compose a confusing future, but prepare for the promising emergence of Africa. 




  1. Joseph Nye, Soft Power: The Means to Success in World Politics. (New York: Public Affairs, 2004), p. 113.
  2. Talha Köse, “Türkiye’nin Kuzey Afrika ve Ortadoğu Bölgesindeki Gücü: Zorlayıcı Olmayan Gücün İmkân ve Sınırları,” Uluslararası Ilişkiler, Vol. 11, No. 41, (2014), pp. 29-61.
  3. Ibid. p. 114.
  4. “Privatisation Administration of Prime Ministry,” Özelleştirme Dairesi Başkanlığı, (2015), retrieved from
  5. Ahmet Davutoğlu, “Principles of Turkish Foreign Policy and Regional Political Structuring,” SAM, (2012), retrieved from
  6. Turkey’s economy has still been growing between three and five percent on average for the past 13 years. 
  7. “Turkey Current Installed Capacity,” Energy Institute, (February 10, 2015), retrieved from 
  8. Ibid. 
  9. Electricity Producers Association, retrieved from
    17A16AE30572D313AAF6AA849816B2EF4376734BED947CDE 03.04.2015
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  11. Ibid.
  12. “Africa Energy Outlook,” International Energy Agency, (2014), Paris, pp. 47-60.
  13. Ibid. 
  14. Ibid. 
  15. Ibid. 
  16. “Africa Energy Outlook,” Energy Information Administration, (October 28, 2014), retrieved from
  17. “Secretary-General’s Remarks at General Assembly High Level Debate on Investment in Africa,” United Nations Official Website, (July 17, 2014), retrieved from
  18. Joseph Nye, The Future of Power. (New York: Public Affairs, 2011). 
  19. Ahmet Davutoğlu, Stratejik Derinlik. (Istanbul: Küre Yayınları, 2001). 
  20. Burhanettin Duran and Nuh Yılmaz, “Whose Model? Which Turkey?,” Foreign Policy, The Middle East Channel, (February 8, 2011). 
  21. Meliha Altunısık, “The Possibilities and Limits of Turkey’s Soft Power in the Middle East,” pp. 42-43. 
  22. Kemal Kirişçi, “Turkey’s ‘Demonstrative Effect’ and the Transformation of the Middle East”, Insight Turkey, Vol. 13, No. 2, (April-June, 2011), pp. 33-43.
  23. Köse, “Türkiye’nin Kuzey Afrika ve Ortadoğu Bölgesindeki Gücü,” pp. 29-61.
  24. World Development Indicators, The World Bank, (April 4, 2015), retrieved from
  25. Mehmet Özkan, “Turkey’s Growing Role in Africa: Practical Efforts and Discourse Search,” Middle East Analysis, Vol. 4, No. 46, (October 2012).
  26. “Turkey-Africa Relations,” Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Turkey, (2015), retrieved from
  27. Soner Karagül and İbrahim Arslan, “Africa Initiative Policy of Turkey: Historical Background, Strategic Partnership and the Future,” International Law and Politics, Vol. 9, No. 35, (2013), pp. 21-55. 
  28. Ibid.
  29. “TİKA Faaliyet Raporu 2013,” Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency, retrieved January 23, 2015 from
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  32. E. Eyrice Tepeciklioğlu, “The Increasing Importance of the African Continent in the World Policy and Turkey and Africa Relations,” Ankara University Africa Studies Journal, Vol. 1, No. 1 (Spring 2012).
  33. Özkan, “Turkey’s Growing Role in Africa,” Middle East Analysis, Vol. 4, No. 46, (October 2012).
  34. “Turkey-Africa Relations,” Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Turkey, retrieved April 2, 2015, from
  35. “2015 Komisyon Raporunun Verdiği Tasarı ve Teklifler,” TBMM, retrieved April 13, 2015, from
  36. “Opening speech of H. E. Taner Yıldız in Africa Energy Forum,” Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources, Istanbul, (June 20, 2014).
  37. Ibid.
  38. “II. Türkiye-Afrika Ortaklık Zirvesi Münasebetiyle Ekvator Ginesi’nin Ziyaret,” Ministry of Foreign Affairs, retrieved April 8, 2015, from
  39. “Karpowership Gana ile 10 Yıl Boyunca 450 MW Elektrik Üretecek,” Karadeniz Holding, (June 17, 2014)retrieved from
  40. “II. Türkiye-Afrika Ortaklık Zirvesi Münasebetiyle Ekvator Ginesi’nin Ziyaret,” Ministry of Foreign Affairs, retrieved April 8, 2015, from
  41. “Türk Müteahhitlik Şirketleri Çin’den Sonra İkinci,”, (August 28, 2014), from

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