Turkey invests in football to win over Sudanese

A Turkish businessman is investing in one of Sudan’s biggest football clubs as Turkey seeks to win the hearts and minds of the local population, Al Arabiya reported.

Oktay Ercan, chairman of the OE group and majority partner in the Turkish-Qatari-Sudanese military uniforms manufacturer, Sur International Investment Company, is the Turkish businessman investing in the indebted Al Merrikh Club, which enjoys wide support throughout Sudan, Al Arabiya said.

Ercan, who is also active in Qatar, has been appointed to the board of the club to manage its finances. The agreement with Ercan includes the provision of funding for the club’s activities as well as paying off its debts, which are estimated at over $1 million, the newspaper said.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is leading a political and economic push by Turkey into Africa, using billions of dollars of Turkish aid money to deepen Turkish influence. Last week he embarked on a tour of the continent, which included Algeria and Mali, with a plane full of businessmen.

The number of Turkish projects in Sudan currently numbers 288, according to a report issued in January 2018 by the Sudanese Investment Commission, Al Arabiya said.

Projects cover furniture manufacture, aluminium products, iron and steel products, foodstuffs, electrical services, electrical tools and exploration and mining, Al Arabiya said.

Turkish gold mining company Toya Gold has several gold projects in the south of Sudan and its chairman, Zafer Topaloglu, is honourary Turkish consul to the region.

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