Turkey has become one of the world's strongest emerging market economies. Over the last few years, its trade and diplomatic ties with sub-Saharan Africa has increased at dizzying pace. With the entry of Koc Holdings, the largest conglomerate in Turkey, into South Africa, it is also set to become one of the most significant new investors in the continent. We interview Mustafa Koc, chairman of the group's board of directors, who is also one of the co-chairs at this year's WEF on Africa
How does Turkey see Africa today?
Mustafa Koc: Owing to the active Turkish foreign policy towards the region and the ever-growing economic ties in the last decade, Turkish people have been hearing more about the new Africa. Impressive news on economic, democratic and humanitarian developments has been taking on a greater prominence, contributing to a new image of the continent in Turkish minds.
Africa has impressed the world with its strong growth trend. What is more important is that this growth been more than a commodity boom; all sectors have contributed to this momentum. This has been brought about by a number of underlying factors, such as improving macroeconomic fundamentals, government reforms covering implementation of business-friendly policies and accelerating privatisations. Africa excites us: it has the youngest population in the world, rising living standards, growing urbanisation and the emergence of a rapidly rising middle class. This creates real opportunities not just in consumer sectors, but also in infrastructure, energy, construction and financial and business services.
This robust growth has been accompanied by striking democratic and humanitarian developments. Democracy has taken root, and conflict is on the wane. For me the new Africa symbolises both promise and hope. Both Turkey, and Koc Holding believe in Africa. Our durable goods company, Arcelik, acquired the market leader Defy Appliances in the Republic of South Africa. This represents a significant first step in expansion throughout the continent.
Arcelik acquired Defy for $324m, the single largest Turkish investment in Africa's industrial sector. This is the first down payment on our commitment to Africa's promising future.
Meanwhile, according to official statistics, the Turkish FDI stock in Africa is around $500m.
How do you see relations between Africa and Turkey evolving?
Turkey has historically had strong cultural and political ties with most of the North African nations but relations with sub-Saharan African countries started, by and large, in the early 2000S and have continued at an accelerating pace over the course of the decade.
2005 was declared as the "the year of Africa". In 2008, the African Union named Turkey as a Strategic Partner and Turkey became a member of the African Development Bank.
Just in the past three years, the number of Turkish embassies in Africa rose from eight to 31. Turkish Airlines has played a crucial role in connecting Turkish and African people with regular flights to 37 African cities.
Total trade volume between...