ISTANBUL (Al Jazeera) – Turkey is aiming to deepen economic and military ties on Africa, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in remarks at a major summit of African heads in Istanbul, and called for a seat representing the continent at the UN Security Council.
Heads of state from 16 African nations, along with more than 102 ministers and representatives of the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States are attending the summit in Istanbul.
The Third Turkey-Africa Partnership Summit follows a flurry of activity by Turkey aimed at boosting ties with the continent.
In October, Istanbul hosted business leaders and dozens of ministers from African states for a summit aimed specifically at increasing trade.
The same month, Erdogan visited Angola, Nigeria, and Togo.
“One-point-three billion people live on the African continent and it is not represented at the Security Council,” Erdogan said on Saturday.
“This is a huge, flagrant injustice. I am still excited and thrilled every time I visit the continent,” Erdogan said, adding that he had made more than 50 trips to the continent and visited more than 30 countries since 2004.
“This summit is a testament to the fact that Turkey is interested in Africa and Turkey’s interest in Africa is not a temporary interest, it is a maintained commitment. Our African brothers and sisters are showing they are interested in better cooperation with Turkey.”
Erdogan announced that Turkey would be sharing 15 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine with African countries in the next few months, adding that it was “a disgrace for humanity at large” that only 6 percent of the population had been vaccinated so far.
Turkey is also ready to share counterterrorism expertise and delivery military technology to countries in Africa, he added.
Turkey has a major military base in Somalia, where it has helped build infrastructure for the government and trained security personnel.
Turkish forces also have a presence in Libya, where they are backing a UN-recognized government, and Turkish armed drones have played an important part in the conflict there.