Erdogan’s Africa trip and subsequent Turkey-Africa summit
In the run-up to the Turkish-African economic and trade summit, which took place in Istanbul yesterday and today, the President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, embarked on a four-day trip to the African continent last Sunday. With the intention of strengthening bilateral relations, he met with heads of state and government as well as investors in Angola, Nigeria and Togo. Since the 1990s, Turkey has been pursuing the goal of regaining its influence over developments on the African continent. In its foray to the southern hemisphere, which has gained considerable momentum since Erdogan came to power, Turkey often emphasises a correction of historical injustice, which is related to the decline of the Ottoman Empire and the conquests of the Western world in colonial times. During his current trip, Erdogan also explicitly presented his country as an alternative partner to former colonial powers of Western Europe. The African continent also offers Turkey different opportunities to restore its foreign policy image as a player on the international stage. With his previous visits to 30 African countries, Erdogan has visited the continent more than any other non-African head of state or government and has shown great ambition to build relations with African decision-makers. Furthermore, Turkey is currently represented by embassies in 43 African countries and flies to around 60 African metropolises in 39 countries on the continent with the state-owned Turkish Airlines. The Turkish president is also pursuing growing ambitions of expanding raw material exploration, free trade agreements and military cooperation with African states and, according to experts, is successfully meeting common interests. The uncomplicated provision of medical supplies during the Corona pandemic also raised Turkey’s standing on the continent. The current summit, themed “Deepening the Turkish-African Partnership” and organised in cooperation with the African Union (AU), highlights the areas of trade, investment, technology and logistics. In a mixture of closed ministerial meetings and panel discussions on topics such as agriculture, the financial sector or the African Continental Free Trade Area, the aim is to open up further opportunities for economic cooperation between Turkey and African states. Turkey’s growing importance is not least reflected in the trade figures: The trade volume between the Eurasian state and the African continent has nearly quintupled in the last two decades and amounted to 25.3 billion US dollars in 2020, despite Corona. With the summit, Turkey therefore also seems to want to set new accents vis-à-vis the commitment of states such as China and Russia in expanding their relations in Africa and wanting to strengthen its profile as a pioneer within the Islamic community of states.
Cape Verde elects José Maria Neves as president
Opposition politician and former prime minister José Maria Neves of the left-wing African Party for the Independence of Cape Verde (PAICV) won Cape Verde’s presidential election on Sunday with 51.7% of the vote. Neves’ main rival, Carlos Veiga, the candidate of the current centre-right ruling party Movement for Democracy (MpD), received 42.4% of the votes. Veiga publicly acknowledged his defeat and congratulated Neves. Both candidates are familiar faces in Cape Verdean politics: Veiga ruled the country as prime minister from 1991 to 2001, Neves succeeded him and led the government from 2001 to 2016. Now Neves replaces the current president, Jorge Carlos Fonseca of the MpD, who is stepping down after serving the maximum two five-year terms allowed by the constitution. This is the fourth time that power at the top of the state has changed hands between the current ruling MpD party and the PAICV since Cape Verde’s independence from Portugal in 1975. The ten-island archipelago off the West African coast is often praised as a model democracy on the continent, ranking high in indices of transparency and political freedom. Cape Verde is a parliamentary republic in which the prime minister holds executive power and the president acts as head of state and plays the role of mediator. A challenge for Cape Verdean politics is mobilising the electorate. Voter turnout, for example, was just under 48%, although this is a significant increase from the 35% in the last presidential election. In addition, although more Cape Verdeans live abroad (700,000) than in Cape Verde itself, their voter registration is traditionally low. This year, too, only 57,000 voters in the diaspora registered for the election. Meanwhile, the new president’s main task will be to work with Prime Minister Ulisses Correia e Silva (MpD) to stabilise the Atlantic archipelago forced into a severe economic recession by the COVID-19 pandemic. In the wake of the pandemic and border closures, the economy had slumped by about 14% in 2020, as tourism accounts for almost a quarter of the gross domestic product. The economy is expected to recover this year and grow by 6%.
In other news
For the 27th time, the curtain is falling on the Pan-African Film and Television Festival FESPACO. In the presence of Burkina Faso’s President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré, the continent’s largest film festival was officially opened at the Palais des Sports in Ouagadougou last Saturday. Until this coming Saturday, more than 200 African feature and short films as well as documentaries will be presented to the thousands of visitors in numerous cinemas and on open-air squares throughout the city. As the flagship of Africa’s booming film industry, FESPACO pays tribute not only to the creative work of African filmmakers, but also to the economic power of the film industry. According to a recent UNESCO report, around five million African people work in the film industry, which generates profits of around five billion euros annually. As every year, the highlight of FESPACO is the announcement of the winners, which will wrap up this year’s film festival on October 23.