Turkish defense companies expand their footprint in Africa

The scope of Turkey’s investments in the African continent is gradually expanding. Turkey has begun to stand out as the security partner of African states by leaping forward in the field of defense industry.

Turkey is one of the main development partners of African countries with a trade volume of $30 billion and investment projects worth $78 billion by the end of 2021. Within developments in the field of defense industry, Turkey has begun to stand out as the security partner of African states.

Industry exports increased 58.6% in the first two months of 2022 compared with the same period last year. Two-month exports amounted to 633 million 998 thousand dollars. While African countries were the 5th largest market in exports until the first 11 months of 2021, it increased to the second rank after North America, which exported 141 million dollars in the first two months of 2022.

So far 14 African countries imported weapons and military vehicles from Turkey. Almost half of the African states signed agreements on cooperation in the defense industry with Turkey.

Defense fairs are one of the important factors that pave the way for Turkey's defense exports. 15th International Defense Industry Fair held in Istanbul in 2021 shows that there is growing demand from African states for Turkish defense industry products. Ministers from various African countries participated in the fair. Turkish companies also continue their efforts to promote themselves by participating in the defense industry fairs in Africa.

OTHER ACTORS AND TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER

The intensification of conflicts that threaten the security of African states feeds the militarization trend and brings along allocate more budgets for defense expenditures. Accordinly, there are various arms suppliers of African states like Russia, China, France and the USA. Notably, Russia’a military influence is increasing throughout the continent.

Turkish defense industry exports to Africa are $288 million, but it is still at the level of 0.5 percent of the total defense expenditures of African states. However, African states have demonstrated a will to diversify their arms suppliers. For this reason, Germany, England, Italy, Israel, Serbia, Iran and North Korea are also apart from the main suppliers of African countries.

Today, high-tech systems are exported to African countries. Especially effective weapons such as Bayraktar TB2 in terms of cost-performance and price-performance are in demand in Africa. Therefore, Turkey becomes an alternative supplier for African states. Successful experience in Libya and Ethiopia makes defense cooperation with Turkey attaractive for African states.

The lack of developed industrial infrastructure across Africa poses a serious obstacle to technology transfer. However, this situtation is not applicable for Turkey. Technology transfer and military capacity building is also important factor that strengthen Turkey’s defense investments in Africa.

TURKEY STAND OUT AS AN IMPORTANT ACTOR

Being economically integrated with the world and can produce high-tech defense systems, Turkiye will stand out as a different actor and create a stronger military partnership profile if it takes steps to build the defense capacities of African states.

While Turkey strengthens its relations with African countries in its foreign policy, the Turkish defense industry is increasing its weight in the countries of the region. A significant part of the export is realized through state-to-state agreements. With the adoption of sustainable approaches, Africa will become a much more important market for the Turkish defense industry in the upcoming period.

Joint defense industry projects, R&D and production facilities can be realized with the countries of the region within the possibilities. Thus, long-term strategic relations with the countries of the region can be established. The Turkish defense industry, which has a presence in the competitive defense market in Africa, gains significant experience and benefits from these gains in domestic activities as well as in other foreign markets.