Turkey has prioritised relations with African nations over the last 10 years and attaches great importance to their economic growth, said Deputy Foreign Minister Naci Koru on Saturday.
“Ankara now has 39 resident embassies in African countries, up from 12 just seven years ago,” the Deputy Foreign Minister said while addressing the UN’s Midterm Review Conference focusing on the Istanbul Program of Action for Least-Developed Countries (LDCs) in Antalya.
He said the challenges confronted by such African and Arab countries are of a global nature and, therefore, ‘require global responses’.
Naci Koru said that supporting African and Arab LDCs’ development endeavours was not just a question of moral solidarity but was ‘essential for the sustainable growth of the world economy and global stability’.
He said the number of African resident embassies in Ankara has reached 32, up from 10 only five years ago.
Koru said that direct flights between Turkey and African countries, as well as a growing number of students, businesspeople and tourists traveling both ways, have intensified the "people-to-people contact" between the two locations.
"As a result of this process, Turkey's bilateral trade volume with Africa reached $17.5 billion in 2015," Koru said.
Turkey's official development assistance reached $3.9 billion in 2015, which corresponds to 0.54 percent of its gross national income.
In the past five years, Turkey has provided LDCs more than $1.6 billion in development assistance.
Turkey's Development Cooperation Agency (TIKA) has reached 40 LDCs so far.
The country provides more than 1,000 scholarships per year for students from African and Arab LDCs. It is also conducting technical training programs for young people both at home and in African and Arab LDCs.
Koru said: "These young people will make our bonds with these nations stronger as they contribute to the development of their countries."
The three-day conference in Antalya is aimed at assessing the progress made so far under the 2011 Istanbul Program of Action.
The program, approved at the Fourth UN Conference on Least-Developed Countries, outlines the international community’s strategy for sustainable development through to 2021 for the LDCs.