After success in Niger, Turkey's "drone diplomacy" is continuing to work its magic in West Africa: a few weeks ago, the Togolese army took delivery of a consignment of Bayraktar TB2 combat drones to protect its northern border against incursions by armed groups from Burkina Faso.
Still engaged in discussions with Turkish manufacturer Baykar Makina, producer of TB2 MALE (medium altitude long endurance) combat drones, the Nigerian government has just finalised the order for a batch consisting of ten small armed tactical Songar UAVs from Nigerian group Asisguard.
The Nigerian army has for several months been looking to buy Turkish Bayraktar TB2 drones but sanctions issued by Washington and Ottawa on a key part of the equipment are holding up negotiations. Its only hope for a breakthrough is a 100% Turkish drone that would provide Ankara with its own strategic autonomy.
The Nigerian Air Force, which is looking for attack helicopters to boost its firepower, is currently conducting negotiations with the European manufacturer Airbus and India's HAL. But the Turkish TAI, solidly supported by Ankara, has a head start with its T-129 model.
Faced with a jihadist threat on Chad's northern border and with troops engaged in peacekeeping operations in Mali, Togo's head of state has spearheaded a major shakeup of the army and defence ministry's leadership to prepare for challenges ahead.
The French president has been trying to get China on board his summit of African economies for months but Beijing has yet to RSVP his invitation. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken should represent Joe Biden at the 18 May event, to which several African heads of state have been hastily invited at the last minute.