Business tycoon Oktay Ercan urges Turkish firms to find partners from other G20 nations to take best advantage of opportunities on the African continent
Turkish foreign investments across the world have grown considerably over the past decade, particularly in Africa, where their value has reached $6 billion. Observers say investments in North Africa have more than doubled in the past five years, while in the sub-Saharan region Turkish investors have mainly targeted countries such as Ethiopia, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire and Nigeria.
“Turkish investment has reached this level because of the success of foreign policy initiatives of the Turkish government in Africa and Middle East since 2005,” says Oktay Ercan, Chairman of OE Group.
By employing the local labor force, using home-produced resources and exporting final products, Turkish firms are contributing significantly to Africa’s development, while at the same time benefitting from the opportunities in the world’s fastest growing continent.
Mr. Ercan believes that further investment in Africa is crucial if Turkey aims to sustain its economic growth and move up the ranks of the G20. “For Turkey to grow more in the African market, it has to conduct projects with countries that want to do business in Africa, be it the other G20 countries or the Gulf States,” he adds.
“If Turkish investors and entrepreneurs cooperate with these countries which are not having any financial difficulties, we will be more successful in the region. In brief, with the business and investment opportunities in Africa, the Turkish know-how, the financial mechanism in the Gulf should be established. The African countries declare that they have been taking Turkey as an example for development especially in the last five years,” says Mr. Ercan.
The OE Group, which is owned by Mr. Ercan, has been operating in Africa and in the Gulf region since 2001, in the textile, retail, import-export, construction, mining, agriculture, livestock breeding and tourism sectors, employing 6,500 in total with its operations in 14 companies in the region: in the Middle East – in the UAE, Qatar and Saudi Arabia – and Africa, in Sudan, Kenya, Cote d’Ivoire and Cameroon.
One of Mr. Ercan’s most successful African ventures is Sur International Investment Co. Ltd., which is based in Sudan and a partner of the Sudanese and Qatari military. The company produces clothing for the armed forces in the Middle East and in Africa at the first fully integrated military textile industrial complex in the world, where it employs 3,500. In recognition of his operations in the region, Mr. Ercan was made the honorary consulate of the Turkish Republic to Sudan.