— The Erimtan Angle —

On Monday, 7 January 2013, one can read in Hürriyet Daily News that ‘Turkey aims to increase its trade volume with African countries to $50 billion by 2015, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan told journalists at Istanbul Atatürk Airport before his departure to Gabon. “Turkey has been exerting efforts in the development of Africa,” Erdoğan said. The prime minister will visit Gabon, Niger and Senegal in his first foreign trip abroad in the new year, where he will meet with heads of state, chair meetings between the countries’ officials, participate in business forums and sign several agreements during the six-day African tour. In Gabon, Erdoğan is set to meet with Gabonese President Ali Ben Bongo Ondimba and the country’s prime minister, Raymond Ndong Sima, as well as appear in a joint press conference. Accompanied by a large delegation of Turkish businesspeople, Erdoğan will speak at a Turkish-Gabonese business forum that would seek opportunities for cooperation in trade and investment. Erdoğan will then visit Niger on Jan. 8 on the second stop of his African tour and meet with President Mahamadou Issoufou. On Jan. 10, the last stop of the tour, Erdoğan is set to arrive in Senegal to meet with President Macky Sall and Prime Minister Abdoul Mbaye. Turkey’s exports to Senegal stood at $109 million in the January-October period of 2012, down from $116 million over the same period a year earlier. Turkey has opened embassies in 19 African countries in the last three years to bring the total number of its top diplomatic missions in the continent to 31’.[1]

The Financial Times’ Turkey correspondent Daniel Dombey puts forward that over “the past three years, Turkey has opened 19 embassies on the continent [of Africa]. It now has 26 south of the Sahara and will have opened delegations in Chad, Guinea and Djibouti by the end of January [2013] as Recep Tayyip Erdogan, prime minister, visits Gabon, Niger and Senegal”.[ii]  Dombey explains further that these diplomatic efforts are “part of a concerted push by Turkey deep into Africa, as it follows China, Brazil and India in seeking to secure economic and political influence on the continent. As Ankara looks to diversify away from the stuttering European economy, it is searching not only for new markets but also a more prominent role on the world stage”.[3]

And this is part of yet another trend, step aside BRIC here comes MIST: ‘Jim O’Neill, the Goldman Sachs economist who came up with the now-mainstream “BRIC” catch-all for four quite different economies – Brazil, Russia, India and China – has done it again. “MIST” – or Mexico, Indonesia, South Korea and Turkey – is O’Neill’s latest rhetorical agglomeration, pulling four more far-flung countries together and talking-up the next tier of large “emerging economies”. Pundits might have a field day with this, with MIST obviously more vapid and perhaps lacking the solidity of its BRIC antecedent. Still, all four have in common a number of factors: a large population and market, a big economy at about 1% of global GDP each, and all are members of the G20’.[4]

As an up and coming MIST country, Turkey is attempting to crack the African market now. In previous months, Turkey’s commitment to Somalia was apparent as part of its more overt Islamic image; but now, the cold reality of economics seems to be taking a front seat. But, the ever-diplomatic Turkish PM instead appears to use his trip to criticise Europe for its colonial legacy, highlighting Turkey’s difference and suitability as an equal business partner with no harmful colonial heritage. In Niger, for example, attending a Turkish-Niger Business Forum in Niamey, he stated plainly: “That is why we are in Niger today. We do not aim to take this country’s oil, gold and diamonds, but to show how we can build brotherhood, make an effort to advance development and fight for freedom of a colonial logic that has endured here for centuries”.[5]  According to Today’s Zaman, ‘Erdoğan said [further that] Ankara will continue supporting Turkish small businesses to increase their investment in Niger and that Turkey will be delighted to see its construction companies take part in Niger’s development projects’.[6]  But Turkey is not just an interesting destination for smart investors and relaxing tourists, ‘up to 50 intrepid Arab tourists arrive in Istanbul every day to undergo [a certain] procedure [to do with facial hair]. Moustaches are seen as a sign of virility and seniority in many Middle Eastern countries, and visitors are arriving in Turkey in droves for procedures designed to provide thick and impressive hair on their upper lips. The surgery is performed under local anesthetic, with doctors taking hair follicles from more hirsute areas of the body and implanting them in the face. Costing anywhere up to $7 000, the procedure has seen a spike in popularity in patients from the Middle East. In fact the job has become bread and butter work for Turkish cosmetic surgeon Dr. Selahattin Tulunay, based in the fashionable Nisantasi district, the so-called Beverly Hills of Istanbul, and who performs up to 60 follicular transplants a month’.[7]  In fact, about a month ago, the Young Turks did a piece on this very topic.


[1] “Turkish PM Erdoğan sees $50 billion in African trade” Hürriyet Daily News (07 Jan 2013). http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/turkish-pm-erdogan-sees-50-billion-in-african-trade.aspx?pageID=238&nID=38502&NewsCatID=344.

[2] Daniel Dombey, “Turkey flexes economic muscle in Africa” FT (06 Jan 2013). http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/d9b175de-4849-11e2-8aae-00144feab49a.html#axzz2HHH5gKqZ.

[3] Daniel Dombey, “Turkey flexes economic muscle in Africa”.

[4] Simon Roughneen, “After BRIC comes MIST, the acronym Turkey would certainly welcome” The Guardian (01 February 2011). http://www.guardian.co.uk/global-development/poverty-matters/2011/feb/01/emerging-economies-turkey-jim-oneill.

[5] “Erdoğan: Turkey desires lasting cooperation with Africa” Today’s Zaman (08 Jan 2013). http://www.todayszaman.com/news-303502-erdogan-turkey-desires-lasting-cooperation-with-africa.html.

[6] “Erdoğan: Turkey desires lasting cooperation with Africa”.

[7] “Moustache hunters travel to Turkey for facial hair implants” AFP Relaxnews (06 Jan 2013). http://www.timeslive.co.za/lifestyle/2013/01/06/moustache-hunters-travel-to-turkey-for-facial-hair-implants.

Comments on: "Tayyip goes to Africa: Rising MIST!!!" (2)

  1. christiellen007 said:

    your website looks like an encyclopaedia that teaches us several things.

  2. Wonderful post! We are linking to this great article on our site.
    Keep up the great writing.

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