So, I attended the Turkey Africa Business Summit in Istanbul recently; For a country like Turkey coming out to massively organize such a big forum for the first time; One would wonder. Why now? Well, there are several reasons one of which is to boost trade relations between Turkey and Africa. For Turkish investors, Africa is the next big thing as we always say ‘Africa is rising’ but honestly speaking what is Africa rising from?
I think this is a question many people don not ask especially Africans and to me I think if we can dwell into what Africa is rising from then we will know where its headed.
So, back to the forum; there were two presidents one from Chad President Idriss Déby and the President of the Republic of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan. To the new beginnings; the President of Turkey assured the continent that they were going to increase their presence on the continent; I mean in terms of investment. One thing I realized at the forum though was the fact that all speakers from President Erdogan talked about how it was time for the ‘WIN WIN’ situation trade relations’ and I kept on wondering what it was before ‘WIN LOSE’?
Ok, lets assume it was a ‘WIN LOSE’ who really was losing in this context;
For a continent naturally gifted with resources, why should we keep losing and rising and winning and losing and rising from what we already have. Why do we still have poor people in Congo, Nigeria, Angola and all these countries with natural resources.
In 2010, Africa’s fuel and minerals exports were worth $333bn which is more than seven times the value of aid that was given to the continent.
PAUSE! This amount ($333bn) doesn’t include the $80bn lost annually through illicit financial flows, corruption etc.
There was a case that between 2007 and 2010, $32bn had gone missing in Angola; Now this money is more than the GDP of each of all the African countries. Anyway; Who loses in this situation; and by the way, who takes this money?
For a continent that earns huge amounts of money from exports; what can we really focus on? Anyway, I decided to visit Istanbul, a city known for textile manufacturing. Many Africans spend over $10,000 in a week to import in clothes to the continent; I thought Uganda produced cotton. But hey! they buy cotton clothes from Istanbul on a very massive scale.
So here is what African traders who buy in Istanbul think about the future of manufacturing on the African continent.