The president of Turkey Tayyip Erdogan has been touring East Africa this week.
Has anyone ever asked why he is very interested in Africa?
This particular trip is not his first one in Africa.
Naturally, there are economic reasons why he is visiting Africa and spending much time on the continent.
There are likely political motives too but we can just look at the billateral deals being signed.
Turkey is a major player in the Middle East and it happens to be a NATO member. Consequently, Turkey has the biggies behind it if anyone should ever attack it.
This past week, media in Uganda had pictures and stories of Turkey commandos training Uganda Police (UPF) on how to handle crowds of protesters.
Turkey has set up many consulates in Sub Sahara Africa to the tune of 34 embassies.
Turkey spends a lot of money in Africa. For example for Somalia alone, Turkey has committed some USD $400mil.
Erdogan is a Muslim and predominantly, many people in Turkey are Muslims.
Erdogan, while in Uganda, criticized the EU.
Given the deal that Erdogan signed with the EU and especially Germany, to receive money to take back Syrian refugees, it was interesting that he dared to only criticize the EU while in Uganda which is currently begging EU, US, UK and UN not to cut back funding for their involvement in Somalia (AMISOM).
What is even more interesting is that Turkish Airlines has more flights into Sub Saharan Africa than Emirate Air. Turkey has partnered with many government owned airlines in Sub Saharn Africa.
The question now becomes “what does Turkey want from Africa?”.
Bilateral relations naturally, expanding markets, expanding influence. We only have to wait and see what Mr. Erdogan intends for Sub Sahara and most especially East Africa (EAC).
Martha Leah Nangalama
The writer has an IT and business background. All opinions are her opinion.