JOHANNESBURG, South Africa
Turkey aims to diversify and elevate its economic cooperation with East Africa’s largest economy, Kenya, to a new level based on a “win-win” situation, a Turkish diplomat said this week.
“Turkey regards Kenya as a key and robust player in the East and Horn of Africa region and an important partner in Africa,” Ahmet Cemil Miroglu, Turkey’s ambassador to Kenya, told Anadolu Agency in an interview Tuesday.
Miroglu said the Turkish government and investors will play a part towards helping Kenya achieve its “Big Four’’ priority areas announced by President Uhuru Kenyatta, which include food security, universal health coverage, affordable housing and enhancing manufacturing.
The envoy believes emphasis on these sectors will offer new perspectives for economic cooperation between the two brotherly nations.
“Turkey also sees vast potential in the fields of mining, infrastructure, defense industries, energy and investment,” the diplomat explained as he encouraged Turkish businesspeople to invest more in Kenya.
According to a survey released in June by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Kenya surpassed Angola to become the third largest economy in Sub-Saharan Africa after Nigeria and South Africa.
Miroglu said he is glad to witness the growing interest by Turkey’s private sector in doing business and investing in Kenya.
“The solid presence of Turkish companies in Kenya attests to this fact,” he said, citing companies such as LC Waikiki, which operates in the ready-made garment sector, FLO in the retail footwear sector and Doğtaş Kelebek Mobilya and İstikbal in the furniture sector as significant examples.
The Turkish diplomat revealed that last year, Kenya was included on the “priority countries” list of the Turkish Ministry of Trade, which he believes will contribute to developing and diversifying their bilateral trade, which was negatively affected due to COVID-19.
Turkey enjoys good bilateral relations with Kenya, having established diplomatic ties with the country in late 1967 and opening an embassy in 1968.
But relations gained momentum over a decade ago following high-level visits on both sides.
In 2009, Turkey’s then-President Abdullah Gul visited Kenya, and his counterpart Uhuru Kenyatta responded by visiting Turkey in 2014. Kenyatta was the first Kenyan president to visit Turkey.
In 2016, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also visited Kenya, where he signed several deals to improve business and political relations.
Turkish Airlines strengthens ties
During the interview, Miroglu highlighted the important role played by Turkish Airlines in strengthening economic and social ties between Turkey and Kenya.
“While mentioning Turkish companies in Kenya, I would like to place special emphasis on Turkish Airlines. Since 2009, direct flights between Turkey and Kenya have strengthened our economic and social ties and brought our peoples closer,” he said.
He noted that although Turkish Airlines had stopped its passenger flights to Kenya between March 25 and Aug. 1, 2020 due to the ban on international travel because of the coronavirus, its cargo flights continued during this period, keeping the trade link intact.
“Upon Kenya’s lifting of the ban on international travel, Turkish Airlines resumed its passenger flights. We are happy to see the growing interest in travelers from both countries especially seeking to resume business,” he said.
The volume of trade between the two countries more than doubled from $52 million in 2005 to over $140 million in 2015.
In 2018, the trade volume between Kenya and Turkey totaled $227 million, and in 2019, it was $235 million.
Some of the goods Turkey exports to Kenya include household appliances, processed foods, construction materials and iron, while Kenya exports mainly agricultural products to Turkey including coffee, tea and fresh fruits.
Turkey offers scholarships to Kenyan students and provides human resource training to Kenya’s workforce, including the police and army.
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