Turkey’s rapidly developing defense industry is now, for the first time in its history, seeking to make major exports to several sub-Saharan countries, most notably Ghana, a senior procurement official said over the weekend.
A senior delegation from the Undersecretariat for the Defense Industry, Turkey’s procurement agency, visited Ghana earlier this month. The Turkish defense industry officials also held talks with their counterparts from Nigeria, Cameroon and Kenya.
“Talks with those African nations were very positive. We expect they will lead to very positive concrete results shortly,” the procurement official said. “Sub-Saharan Africa will occupy a major place on our priority list for export purposes. Such efforts will potentially be worth billions of dollars over the upcoming decades.”
Key sectors for exports to sub-Saharan Africa include armored vehicles and military electronics, arguably Turkey’s most developed defense areas.
Representatives of Aselsan, Turkey’s top state-owned electronics manufacturer, and top private Turkish vehicle makers Oyolar, FNSS and BMC took part in the visit to Ghana.
Among sub-Saharan countries, South Africa, a developed arms manufacturer, already has some cooperation with Turkish companies. The South African company Denel sought Turkey’s attack helicopter contract worth billions of dollars, but at the last stage lost to Italy’s AgustaWestland three years ago. Denel is cooperating with Turkey’s FNSS, which earlier this year won a $600 million contract to sell Pars 8X8 armored vehicles to Malaysia. Denel will produce turrets for the vehicles.
Turkey is also eying increased defense sales to North African countries, but is waiting for the situation to calm down in places hit by the “Arab Spring” wave of protests and unrest. In Tunisia and Egypt, the regimes of former dictators ended peacefully. In Libya, despite the ousting of former strongman Moammar Gadhafi, a civil war is still continuing.
Potential in North Africa
“There is a great potential of work to be done in the defense industry field with North African nations. We are waiting for some signs of greater stability in those countries,” the procurement official said.
Once a top buyer of defense equipment from its Western partners, Turkey in the past few years has become increasingly active in weapons exports, with its defense exports expected to exceed $1 billion this year.