Libreville - Turkey aims to more than double its trade with Africa to $50bn over the next two years and ratchet up its fast-growing diplomatic presence on the continent, Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday.
Speaking in Gabon's capital Libreville on the first leg of a West African tour, Erdogan said Turkish firms from transport and construction to energy and tourism were eager to do more business across the continent.
"Our trade volume target for Turkey (with Africa) in 2015 is $50bn and we are determined to reach this target," he said in a speech to Turkish and Gabonese business leaders.
Turkish trade with Africa stood at $17.7bn in the first 11 months of 2012. Its exports to the continent were $12.2bn in that period, more than five times the level of a decade ago.
Turkey has rapidly increased its business and diplomatic presence in Africa, following in the footsteps of China, India and Brazil, as its companies look to diversify away from the slowdown in their traditional European export markets.
Business and diplomacy have gone hand in hand.
Erdogan, who is due to travel to Niger and Senegal on his trip, said Turkey would open three new embassies in Africa in the coming months, bringing its total on the continent to 34.
Turkish Airlines, 49% state-owned and a "soft power" tool of diplomacy, has rapidly expanded its African network in recent years, flying to 33 destinations and opening routes to Burkina Faso, Cameroon and Niger last month alone.
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