From Adelaide Chikunguru in Istanbul, Turkey
The two-day Turkey-Africa Media Summit kicked off today in Istanbul, with Turkey reaffirming its commitment to strengthening cooperation with Africa in the media and economic sectors.
Presenters at the summit dwelt on the post-pandemic challenges in journalism, journalism under digital siege, women in journalism and challenging the conventional narratives of African storytelling.
Zimbabwe’s Ambassador to Turkey, His Excellency Alfred Mutiwazuka noted that relations between Zimbabwe and Turkey have grown significantly since the establishment of a physical embassy in Turkey in 2019.
“I must admit that our presence has actually strengthened our relationship with the Turkish government and the Turkish people. As we operate right now as an embassy and in our relationship with Turkey, we are moving forward the agenda of economic diplomacy. As I speak to you right now, we want to ensure that we have a legal framework in terms of cooperation. This is to say that in our business dealings, we want to ensure that Turkish investments are well protected by this legal framework,” said Ambassador Mutiwazuka.
He added, “Now, what we have done as an Embassy for the past three years, is that we have been negotiating a number of agreements in education, ICT sectors and so on. And as I speak to you right now, there are about 15 MOUs which are just waiting to be signed. I think that is only an indication that there is a lot of work which has been done between Zimbabwe and Turkey. And we hope that with the current movement of high level delegations from Zimbabwe to Turkey, this is also the beginning of very high interaction at the highest level, so that we are able to implement what we are discussing.”
Ambassador Mutiwazuka said it was important that Zimbabwe is participating at the summit as it opens up opportunities for telling the Zimbabwean and African story from an African perspective.
“It is important that our own journalists are also participating, because the narrative, which we all talk about, has always been from the Western countries, but Turkey has provided that platform to African journalists to say their side of the story, the African story from African perspectives. So I think this interaction with journalists from Turkey who are well-experienced, who have also been able to say the Turkish story to the other media houses especially from the West, is very important.”
Professor Fahrettin Altun, who is the Communications Director of the Republic of Turkey, spoke about the expanding Turkish interests in Africa, following the declaration of the year 2005 as Africa Year by the Turkish presidency.
Turkey then also joined the African Union as an observer and ever since, the relations between Turkey and Africa have grown from strength to strength.
Professor Altun said Turkey has held a number of summits with Africa in the previous years, targetted at creating friendly, long term and win-win partnerships. In 2002, there were only 12 Turkish embassies in Africa, which have now grown to 43 across the continent. There are aso numerous development agencies which are working in Africa.
With regards to business and trade, Turkish Airlines destinations have since improved and increased across Africa, while trade volumes have grown tenfold in the past decade, Professor Altun noted.
Moreover, there are several tech companies that deal in energy, education, food and defence, which have set up bases in Africa and are offering support services across various sectors.
“They are there because the Turkish government is interested in real partnerships and they offer real value because you know, they do not have a stained colonial background regarding Turkey’s relationship with Africa,” said Professor Altun.
He spoke very strongly against the threat of terrorism and acts of sabotage, including disinformation.
Apart from pushing for the dissemination of information about information on climate change, the Turkish government is also sponsoring and promoting news making processes across the African continent, where youths and young journalists are offered training.
The Turkey-Africa summit is being held as Africa commemorates Africa Day on the 25th of May.