According to an article in today's Business Daily, a Kenyan-based newspaper, Turkey has become the latest emerging economy to join the scramble for African resources, with a continent-wide investment conference to be held in Istanbul in mid-August.
Turkish focus appears targeted especially at Kenya; bilateral trade between the two countries capped at $90 million just last year. Indeed, since the country's 2007 presidential upheaval, Turkey has become one of the key source markets for Kenyan consumer goods such as textiles, carpets, furniture and electronics for the newly rich. In February 2007, an article in the Turkish Daily News touted the positive economic byproducts of Kenya's "civil war" for the Turkish cut-flower industry.
For a country like Turkey - short on natural resources, desperately seeking admission to the EU and otherwise wanting to maintain and grow its economy - investing in Africa appears a sound business option. What I'm less certain of, however, is how this new phase of South-South cooperation will ultimately benefit the African continent. This is not to suggest that it necessarily won't, but I can't help but wonder: with China, Japan, India and now Turkey (as well as other developing countries - apologies to Japan for lumping it in this category) carving up the African continent, are we witnessing a new phase in productive economic partnerships, or a 21st century version of colonialism?