Jean R. AbiNader
March 19, 2018
In a message addressed to the Crans Montana Forum on “Africa and South-South Cooperation,” which was held last week in the southern Moroccan city of Dakhla, King Mohammed VI emphasized the centrality of Africa in Morocco’s foreign policy. He mentioned how highly he regards Morocco’s relations with countries on the continent and how there are many opportunities for Africa’s future if it seriously promotes South-South cooperation.
Given its youthful population, some 2.5 billion people by 2050, half under the age of 25, the continent, he believes, must “mobilize resolutely to meet the nagging challenges facing the Hemisphere and to be part of the virtuous dynamic of shared growth.” Noting that Morocco bases its Africa policy on “the exchange of knowledge, skills, expertise, and resources” involving all regions of the continent, the King believes that the kingdom has much to share “Whether it is technology transfer, knowledge sharing, establishment of public-private partnerships in various sectors, or training and higher education, Morocco has developed a recognized expertise on the African scene.”
Through some 1,000 bilateral and multilateral agreements signed with 28 African countries in the past 15 years, and providing scholarships for more than 25,000 African students, Morocco is making a long-term commitment to Africa. Its African Gas Pipeline project with Nigeria and several billion dollar fertilizer facilities with others will literally transform regional economies that access these projects.
Seeing migration as an opportunity not an obstacle, King Mohammed mentioned how important it is for leaders to look for ways to integration migration realities into economic development initiatives, as Morocco is putting in place. “Migration is an opportunity, not a threat. The migration crisis we are currently experiencing is not new and should not be seen as inevitable. It calls for a strengthening of cooperation, first between African countries, then with the countries of the North.” Morocco chairs the Migration committee of the African Union and presented at the 30th AU Summit earlier this year “An African Agenda for Migration,” which seeks to implement a more systematic and regularized approach for dealing with the issue by establishing a study center on migration as well as AU staff dedicated to solving migration issues.
The King also pointed out that as the host for COP 22, Morocco has strongly expressed its concern for the environment. “The Kingdom is fully aware of the threat posed by this other phenomenon to the development, peace and security of our Continent. Africa is indeed paying a heavy price in this area, even though it emits only 4% of greenhouse gases.” He renewed his call to industrialized countries to make good on the commitments made in terms of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and providing financing for climate-related projects in the South.
After listing a number of areas in which Morocco is ready to assist other African countries, King Mohammed pointed out that “It is undeniable that Our Continent is confronted with a paradox: it has practically all the natural resources necessary for sustained human development; yet its people suffer from poverty and marginalization in the international economy. In fact, intra-African trade accounts for only 13% of all commercial activity at the continental level and accounts for only 2% of world trade.”
On this point, the King reiterated the importance of regionalization as a key strategy for Africans developing solutions for Africa. “Our continent lacks neither ambition nor willingness to move forward. It needs new forms of collective organizations of administration and management of territories. With this in mind, we have chosen to place advanced regionalization at the heart of our economic development model.” This approach of devolving decision-making for local development to local officials and empowered citizens “reflects a strong desire to renovate and modernize the structures of the state, to consolidate the integrated development of our territories, and federate all stakeholders around a common project.”
It has been a consistent position of King Mohammed since his accession to the throne that a commitment to the future of Africa is critical to the well-being of the continent. “Africa, which is moving in the right direction, is firmly on the path of emergence, thanks to the wisdom of its leaders and the inclusion of its people in an irreversible democratic process that meets its aspirations legitimacy of peace, human development and development of potential.”
He sees this as a work in progress that will only bring benefits the people of Africa as they build their futures by greater economic, social, and political integration through cooperation and collaboration across the many challenges they face in common.