Erdogan in Africa: Gulen and trade ties

Feza Girls Secondary School, Dar es Selaam
Feza Girls Secondary School, Dar es Selaam


Date posted: January 25, 2017

Christine Harjes

Ostensibly the Turkish president is seeking support for his anti-Gulen campaign. A more pressing reason for his three nation African tour could be the search for new markets.

In Mozambique, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called on his Mozambican counterpart Felipe Nyusi to take action against exiled Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom he blames for last year’s failed coup in Turkey.  Earlier this week, during a stopover in Tanzania, Erdogan warned at a joint press conference with President John Magufuli  that he has evidence “that those elements who tried to topple our government are active in other countries as well.”


Erdogan wants the Gulen-linked schools in Africa to be closed down, yet they are the very educational establishments which are popular with Africa’s middle class. They are an inexpensive alternative to French schools. If parents send their children to Turkish schools, it is not because the schools are Turkish, but because they employ good teachers. Africa’s middle class want good schools.


“Other countries” was a reference to African states in which Gulen’s Hizmet movement operates its international network of schools. These establishments have helped to spread Turkish culture and influence abroad. Since the attempted coup in July 2016, however, the Turkish government has been mounting a crackdown on Gulen’s operations. Erdogan is trying to drum up support for these punitive measures on his five day African tour.

Erdogan wants the Gulen-linked schools in Africa to be closed down, yet they are the very educational establishments which are popular with Africa’s middle class. They are an inexpensive alternative to French schools, Ibrahamia Bano Barry, a sociologist at the University of Sonfonia in Guinea, told DW. “If parents send their children to Turkish schools, it is not because the schools are Turkish, but because they employ good teachers. Africa’s middle class want good schools,” he said.


Related News:

Tanzania dismisses Turkish gov’t allegations concerning Feza schools, asks for proof


There are some 20 Turkish schools in the Guinean capital Conakry and they have sprung up all over Africa in recent years.  Efforts to spread Turkish cultural values and educational standards are therefore said to be closely linked to Gulen and his operations. Ufuk Tepebas from  the Center for African Studies at the University of Basel in Switzerland believes that Erdogan should tread carefully. “The Turkish government should follow a careful and patient strategy,” he told DW. Erdogan will have to supply convincing evidence to back up the allegations he levels against Gulen and offer alternatives, if he is to win over his African partners, he said. “Otherwise some African countries may perceive this as an imposition and this constitutes a risk to bilateral relations.”

New markets

Relations with Tanzania do not appear to have suffered. President Magufuli has asked Turkey for loans and investment for the construction of a rail link from Dar es Salaam to Zambia. It will connect Tanzania to Burundi, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The project has been put out to tender and a Turkish construction company has a good chance of clinching the deal. Other donor countries pulled out of Tanzania following a corruption scandal there in 2015.

Kristian Brakel from the Istanbul branch of Germany’s Heinrich Böll Foundation believes that Turkey’s economic interests are the chief reason for Erdogan’s African tour. “Turkey is looking for new markets for its small and medium-sized firms,” he said. The anti-Gulen offensive is a relatively minor affair. “Turkey is putting enormous pressure on its African partners, but that is not the primary objective of this visit even though the press often interprets it as such.” In the medium and long term, Turkey wants to find a substitute for markets in the Middle East, such as Syria and Iraq, Brakel said.

Small and medium-sized companies have grown in strength in Turkey under Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). They belong to what is referred to in Turkey as the “devout trading class” which supports the AKP. Erdogan, in turn, is seeking openings in Africa on their behalf. “Erdogan is not targeting specific markets so much as raising Turkey’s profile in the region. He is, however, looking for a foothold in markets that could become more interesting in the future. The market for Turkey’s construction industry in Africa is promising, and the Tanzanian rail project comes at a fortuitous time. But Turkey’s involvement in Africa is far removed from the huge scale of China’s engagement on the continent. “I get the impression that Erdogan and his grovernment are making a point of trumpeting their involvement in Africa,” Brakel said. “There is a lot of noise, but little in the way of real substance.”

Erdogan visits Madagascar on Wednesday before returning home.

Abu-Bakarr Jalloh contributed to this report

Source: Deutsche Welle , January 26, 2017


Related News

4-year-old visits dad in jail on Children’s Day wearing T-shirt with newborn brother’s picture

Minutes before paying a visit to her jailed father early on Sunday morning, H.A. was photographed in front of Sakarya L Type Prison wearing a T-shirt bearing a photo of her newborn baby brother.

Celebrating Ramadan with Turkish asylum seekers

Haldun and his wife, Funda, fled Turkey about two years ago with their three daughters and are now seeking political asylum in the United States because if they go back to Turkey they face arrest and likely torture. Once a successful manufacturer of washing machine products, Haldun, Funda and their children are now a family without a country; their factory turned over to a government trustee, their passports taken away, and their property and belongings nationalized.

Municipality illegally demolishes building in İstanbul

Workers from the İstanbul Metropolitan Municipality have demolished a small, prefabricated shelter on land that belongs to the Hizmet-affiliated Mehtap Education Foundation, despite the lack of official permission to carry out the demolition.

Pained by the tragedy, Izmir doctor moves to Somalia

Doctor Lokman Cam, who had volunteered for three-month periods in Somalia over the past two years, eventually said: “They need us more” and moved to the country. Cam said his wife and three children at university showed the most support for his decision. Somalis, on the other hand, expressed their gratitude with the words: “You’ve […]

Kazakh-Turkish School students win medals in mathematics competition in Brazil

Students of the Kazakh-Turkish School have brought 1 silver and 3 gold medals for their mathematics projects from Brazil. They took part in the 27th International fair of projects in the field of technology. About two thousand students from 50 countries presented over five hundred scientific works in the competition. Abai Kozhabergenov was one of […]

Thai Minister asks Turkish investors to invest more in education in Thailand

Winners at various International Science Olympiads from Turkish schools in Thailand paid a visit to Science and Technology Minister Peerapan Palusuk. The minister asked Turkish entrepreneurs to invest more in education sector in his country. Turkish schools’ students in Thailand have been representing the country successfully at International Science Olympiads. Students from Chindamanee School, Siriwat […]

Latest News

This notable Pocono resident has been living here in exile since 1999

Logistics companies seized over Gülen links sold in fast-track auction

That is Why the Turkish Government could Pay 1 Billion Euros

ECtHR rules Bulgaria violated rights of Turkish journalist who was deported despite seeking asylum

Fethullah Gülen’s Message of Condolences in the Wake of the Western European Floods

Pregnant woman kept in prison for 4 months over Gülen links despite regulations

Normalization of Abduction, Torture, and Death in Erdogan’s Turkey

Turkey’s Maarif Foundation illegally seized German-run school in Ethiopia, says manager

Failed 2016 coup was gov’t plot to purge Gülenists from state bodies, journalist claims

In Case You Missed It

As I researched the Gulen schools in Germany, I experienced beyond what I had expected

Mali Minister pledges to maintain good relations with Kimse Yok Mu

People happy in town Kimse Yok Mu helped build

Turkey’s Internet watchdog blocks access to website broadcasting Gülen’s speeches

Turkey fosters strong educational ties with Iraqi Kurds

The Middle Eastern voice of Europe — Natacha Atlas

Turkey’s Curious Coup in 6 Questions

Copyright 2021 Hizmet News