Erdoğan’s trip shows growing influence in Africa

In the mid-1990s, Turkey adopted a policy of engaging with the African continent and Latin America. Yet it was not until 2008 that Turkey started playing an active role in Africa. Since then, Turkey’s influence on the continent has grown, just as the popularity of other countries has fallen.

In August 2008, the African Union declared Turkey a "strategic partner" at the Turkey-Africa Cooperation Summit. In May 2010, Turkey hosted the 4th U.N. Conference on the Least Developed Countries, and it has never looked back.

Turkey has engaged with Africa as a partner and as a friend of the people, and has been accepted by Africans as such. Turks are regarded as the grandchildren of the Ottomans who ruled North Africa for several centuries, not as a colonial power, but as their big brother who came to "provide" rather than "exploit." This feature of the Ottoman Empire is why there is no Turkish speaking country in Africa, while there are still countries where the languages of the colonial powers are spoken.

Turkey has expanded its area of influence in Africa by blending soft power tactics such as transportation links, trade, education and last but not least, religious services, with its foreign policy. […]

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