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Turkey plans to establish a foothold in the Horn of Africa by developing an economic zone along the Djibouti-Ethiopia border. Recently a Turkish business delegation visited Djibouti to discuss establishing a partnership with Ethiopia by building a Private Economic Zone, which will be constructed in Djibouti, which Turkish Minister of Economy Nihat Zeybekci, says will be a ‘little Turkey’, benefiting both parties commercially.
Djibouti and Ethiopia are major trade centers in Africa for Turkish products, which have been appearing more and more in the region’s market. This zone will handle logistics to make transporting those items more efficient. In this way Ethiopia will become a gateway for Turkish commodities to enter Africa. “We have a very important investment in Ethiopia. We are in Djibouti to build the future and expand our relationship with Djibouti and Ethiopia,” the Economic Minister added.
“This economic zone will allow Turkish products to enter Africa and east African goods to leave Africa more efficiently. Djibouti is the entry point for east Africa and 90 percent of goods coming to Ethiopia start their journey from there, so the nation plays a vital role in the region. This economic zone is very important to speed up and facilitate the process,” Osman R. Yavuzalp, Turkish Ambassador to Ethiopia and Permanent Representative to the African Union, told Capital. He added that he expects for the construction to be completed very soon.
“Turkish businesses want to invest in Djibouti,” Youssouf Moussa Dawaleh, president of Chamber of Commerce of Djibouti, told Capital.
However, he added that it often takes two months for Turkish products to move into Africa but with this new zone that time can be reduced to one week,” the Djibouti Chamber head explained.
Although the exact location of the zone has not yet been determined Youssouf stated that they met in April with DEIK officials (the Foreign Economic Relations Board), an organization under the Turkish economic ministry and went over the benefits the Djibouti location could bring.
He said that the chamber has also invited the Turkish investors to be part of the IGAD Business Forum that will be held in February, next year.
“We will come back in the middle of February to be part of the forum and to sign the MoU to work together,” representative of DEIK said.
The head of DEIK said it’s clear that Turkish investors want to be in Djibouti. “We will have eight projects there and more on the way in sectors like electricity, construction, food, cement, chemicals, communications, energy and luxury hotels.
“This is all part of Turkey’s Africa expansion strategy,” Ilyas Moussa Dawaleh, Minister of Finance and Economy of Djibouti said at a joint press conference held on December 11 at Kempinski Hotel, in Djibouti.
He also highlighted that authorities in the Turkish economy are pleased with the positive stance of the Ethiopian government toward the Private Economic Zone. Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn emphasized that Ethiopian officials shared their visions with his counterpart, Prime Minister Ahmed Davutoğlu, when he was the minister of Foreign Affairs.
Hailemariam said that he is happy Zeybekci will also underscore the same vision of Turkey using Ethiopia as an entrance to Africa.
The delegation also visited Ethiopia and met with top government officials and the business community.
The Turkish Ambassador in Ethiopia said that the new Turkish investment will bring about significant new businesses to Ethiopia. He indicated that this may involve a strong Turkish public bank in Ethiopia.