North Africa is often considered as separate and distinct from the African continent–to bridge that gap, “Morocco has a real African strategy”:
Regional integration has been a dream in Africa since the days of Kwame Nkrumah and more recently Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi. Now, says Abdou Diop, a Senegalese national who has lived in Morocco for decades, “Business will perhaps facilitate the political issue.”
It may also accelerate the development agenda. The Moroccan executives I met were keen to emphasize the country’s enormous reserves of phosphate rock and phosphoric acid—bedrock components of modern fertilizer. This natural resource offers a potentially symbiotic relationship between Morocco’s most lucrative export and a needed agricultural revolution south of the Sahara. OCP, the largest fertilizer supplier, is opening a plant “dedicated to serving Africa,” according to Tarik Choho, managing director.
To be sure there are a number of existing ventures with a foot on either side of the Sahara. Telecoms firms like Etisalat and Telecom Maroc straddle Arab majority and west African markets. Bank of Africa, operating across 17 countries on the continent, has been majority owned by BMCE, a Moroccan bank, since 2010. Cherif Radi, COO of TA Telecom, operating from Egypt with a presence in five other countries on the continent, discussed the challenges of pan-African operations. “I’m not talking about boundaries on paper—it’s cultural,” he says. “When you start a company, you find it’s all different—language, regulation, kind of communication.”..[FULL STORY]