Interview with Murat Mercan

Interview on Africa with Murat Mercan, Deputy Minister Of Energy

What would be the role of the energy sector in developing our relations with Africa?
First I would like to say that Africa is a continent that was deliberately left behind. Unfortunately, “white man” took advantage of all natural resources of Africa but didn’t take
anything to Africa except his language. It brought no road, no water, no electricity, no school and almost nothing. In 1998, Turkey stipulated to start an Africa expansion but it was not possible to make realize this expansion due to reasons like the economy conditions and problems, political crises, lack of interest of the coalition governments of the time.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan declared the year 2005 as the Year of Africa and started a heavy expansion to Africa. Within this framework, the number of our embassies was increased rapidly to reach total 38 embassies which are still counting.

Apart from that, TIKA (Turkish Cooperation and Coondination Agency) and many other non-governmental organizations had many serious investments and assistance in Africa.
Our Prime Minister paid visits to Niger, Gabon and Senegal to accelerate the relations of Turkey with Africa. There are plans to provide basic necessities of the region and the people of region like water and health services and to realize existing possibilities of Africa. As the Ministry of Energy, we concern ourselves in a sense by taking into consideration the political perspective indicated by the Prime Minister and put ourselves in an effort to evaluate the energy resources of Africa with the people of Africa based on a “win-win” model and to bring these resources into economy. Africa has two major requirements: you can pick the first one among transportation, education and health while the second is definitely energy. Hence, nothing is possible without energy. Led by Mr. Minister, we now work on models to realize the energy potential of Africa. I believe that we assumed a very important mission.

Actually you mentioned when you answer to our first question, which is a subject I focused in our second issue. We have been told so far that Africa was a poor, dangerous, hungry region where you could get diseases. Was it really so? Or how is the condition now?

Yes, this is the reality. There is poverty, hunger, infectious diseases. The main cause is not the people of Africa, but the “white man”. Those who complain about the problems in Africa are the cause of them. I hope that Turkey’s effort would minimize these problems. I saw many Turkish people who felt very sad when digging water wells or conducting cataract surgery in the most distant villages of Africa. Recently many companies from Turkey started commercial advances with Africa.

Are these attempts enough considering the present level reached?
Of course, you can never say everything is sufficient. When you consider the investment and production required for Africa, and I mean Sub Saharan Africa since North Africa is relatively much better. When you think about that, Africa has lots of requirements. There are such countries with total power generation less than 1.000 MW. Turkey’s power capacity is now 55.000 MW. So, you get results as much as you make investment. Our present level is not sufficient but I think we will be much better in 10 years than today.

What are the expectations from Turkey with respect to the energy sector?

Now, if there will be an investment in Africa with economic value, this will be done with the realization of the energy resources of Africa. When I say energy, I mean mines as well.
Mines, petroleum and energy sector will play a pioneering role. Our vision is an indicator of this role.

We have briefed you about our magazine, what do you think about it?
In fact, I have been very pleased and excited with this magazine. It is a proof that Africa is not a forgotten country and Turks have much interest in the region and continent. So, we
are not there with the instinct of making profit, we pursue a goal to create a business environment in cooperation with the people of Africa. So, I am very satisfied, I congratulate you and wish you success. I never expected such a thing, indeed.

When we make meetings with our companies in Turkey, we always face with comments like “it is early now, we have plans for investment in Africa but it is not time yet”. What wouldyou like to say to our companies who plan to get business contact with Africa or who is currently operating in Africa?
First thing to say about this is that tomorrow can be late. Africa has always been under the projection of other countries as well as Turkey. I have recently been to Nigeria. I have been told that the biggest companies of the world have mine plants there. Unfortunately, these countries have been heavily exploited by foreign companies. I now that investment in Africa is difficult but I think an investment today will be very profitable. I strongly recommend to Turkish entrepreneurs. I think they will find brothers in Africa who have different colours. Thank you.


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