Istanbul to host landmark Turkey-Africa forum

tur me lInternational business leaders will meet for two days in Istanbul starting Nov. 2 at the Turkey-Africa Economic and Business Forum, which highlights Turkey’s strategy to enhance bilateral trade and economic relations with countries in Africa.

The forum, jointly organized by the Turkish Economy Ministry, the African Union Commission, the Foreign Economic Relations Board (DEİK) and the Turkish Exporters Assembly (TİM), aims to provide a platform for business circles in Turkey and African countries to create long-lasting cooperation, according to the forum’s official webpage.

DEİK Africa Business Council President Tamer Taşkın told Anadolu Agency that Turkey’s ambassadors in Africa had put in a great deal of effort to draw attention to the forum.

“Leaders of African industry and businesspeople will have business-to-business (B2B) meetings and there will be a lot of opportunities for both sides,” said Taşkın.

He added that Turkish investors who had been doing business exclusively in North African countries were now focusing on sub-Saharan Africa.

Since Turkish firms have gained a lot of experience in the energy sector, they were ready to aid African countries that suffer from a lack of electricity, said Taşkın.

Almost 80 percent of sub-Saharan Africa lacks access to electricity, according to the International Energy Agency’s Africa Energy Outlook report.

Overall, the electricity access rate for sub-Saharan Africa has improved from 23 percent in 2000 to 32 percent in 2012.

In West Africa, electricity access rates range from below 20 percent in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Niger and Burkina Faso to more than 50 percent in Senegal and above 70 percent in Ghana. More than 90 million people in Nigeria, or 55 percent of the population, do not have access to grid.

More than 200 million people in East Africa are without electricity, representing around 80 percent of the population.

“Around 60 million people in the Democratic Republic Congo do not have access to electricity, even though it has very large hydropower potential,” the report also said.

The continent cannot meet its energy demand and has difficulties producing enough oil, natural gas and electricity due to the lack of technology and poor infrastructure.

The continent has 7.6 percent of proven global oil reserves, which amounts to 129.1 billion barrels, according to a BP report.

U.S.-based oil giant ExxonMobil made a significant oil discovery in the Owowo offshore field in Nigeria, with a potential recoverable resource of between 500 million and 1 billion barrels of oil, the company said Oct. 27.