By Charles Onunaiju
Since acquiring a stable and steady momentum of economic development, Turkey has been a major player in the world economy, raising her profile by incremental engagements with various regions of the world in economic cooperation. For Africa, Turkey has been a key strategic and important partner in broad economic cooperation, which covers trade, investment, and even aid.
The upcoming Business Forum between Turkey and the Economic Community of West Africa States, (ECOWAS) scheduled to hold in Turkish commercial city of Istanbul is most likely to inject fresh vitality to the cooperation between the two sides. Both the Turkish minister of Economy, Mr Nihat Zeybekel and Nigeria’s minister of industry, trade and investments, Mr Okechukwu Enelamah, among other ministers from the West African sub-region will address the meeting. The Forum, which is expected to bring together decision makers and business people from both sides would strengthen economic ties and create opportunities for trade and investment. The forum would expose opportunities for mutual economic benefits to the two sides and provide sustainable framework for business communities of the two sides, to tap into their respective experiences to drive a more robust economic engagement. Turkey, already an active economic player in Africa, will, through the forum gain more insight to the economic potentials of the ECOWAS sub-region. The ECOWAS sub-region is likely to gain more investment inflow, robust trade through the mechanism of the Forum. Turkey’s economic dynamism has been a principal input to Africa and the benefits of Turkey-West Africa business forum can only bring more value to the sub-region. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) comprising fifteen countries in the sub-region is a huge market with enormous economic potential.
At the Istanbul Forum, more than 1000 Turkish and African business people are expected to participate in the event. Thematic session and one-on-one meeting will be held in between ECOWAS states officials and representatives from the business world. According to agenda drawn up for the Forum, during the opening session, the public sector and the representatives of prominent regional financial and development oriented organizations will examine the current state of relations and the potential for development and improvement between Turkey and ECOWAS countries.
Another session will feature the ECOWAS Cooperation Organization, Trade and Development (ECOBANK) and Turkish Eximbank representatives will discuss opportunities for trade financing in the region.
In a welcome letter by the Turkish minister of economy, Mr Nihat Zeybekci, he wrote that “Turkey’s win-win approach towards Africa has culminated in the bourgeoning economic relationship between the parties,” adding that “this policy focus on political equality, transparency, sustainability and mutual economic development.” According to the minister, the Istanbul business forum between Turkey and ECOWAS “will provide a platform for the business circles from ECOWAS countries to meet with their Turkish counterparts to develop a new partnership which aims to build together, sell what’s produced together and share the profit.”
Building on the success of the Turkey and Africa Business and Economic forum which held in Istanbul from 2nd to 3rd of November 2016, at which the Turkish President, Tayyip Erdogan said that Turkey assumed Africa’s priorities to be its own priorities and also described Africa as a “companion in common fate,” the ECOWAS-Turkey Business Forum would nudge the existing economic cooperation between the two sides to higher level. At the 2016 forum, Turkish economy minister expressed confidence in Africa and said “we do have faith in Africa. Africa, with the accurate and appropriate policies, shall be the growth engine of the world economy, which has reached the end of the road in terms of growth and has been in recession since around 10 years.”
At the Istanbul Forum this month, both the West African sub-region and Turkey, would demonstrate their resilience and vigour in driving growth by unlocking diverse economic opportunities and potentials that exist between them. Nigeria, a major country in the ECOWAS sub-region enjoys robust economic cooperation with Turkey. However, the wider scope of Turkey-ECOWAS economic cooperation would open new opportunities for a more viable and productive cooperation between Nigeria and Turkey.