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Stadium Diplomacy in Africa is Fashionable Again

urkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan passes the ball to Senegalese President Macky Sall at the new Olympic Stadium in Dakar, Senegal. (Photo courtesy of the Turkish Presidency)

Early on in China’s engagement in Africa, the Chinese were big on gifting sports stadiums to African governments as part of their soft power diplomatic outreach on the continent. Later, Chinese infrastructure development shifted focus to larger, more conventional projects like bridges, railroads and highways but now that appears to be changing as stadiums are again becoming countries’ showpiece development projects on the continent.

Last week during a visit to Senegal, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan showed off his skills as a former semi-professional footballer when he appeared on the pitch with President Macky Sall. Unlike China, Turkey doesn’t just give away stadiums but it does build them. The 50,000 seat facility in Dakar was constructed by Turkish contractor Summa and provided President Erdogan a great venue to show off the capabilities of Turkish construction companies in Africa.

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