J. Peter Pham of the Atlantic Council on how Morocco has been on the forefront of finding African Solutions to African development issues:
[…] Increasingly, a number of African countries have also turned to Morocco, not only for the example of its decade-old National Human Development Initiative (INDH), which since its inception has invested over $6 billion on more than 700 locally administered educational and other anti-poverty projects, but also as a development partner. Last year, during a visit to Côte d’Ivoire, King Mohammed VI not only declared that “Morocco fully assumes its African vocation,” but also affirmed that “South/South cooperation should be at the heart of the economic relationships” between African countries. This past week, the monarch arrived in Senegal, on another African trip that will take him onward to Guinea-Bissau, Côte d’Ivoire and Gabon. Already, he has signed 13 agreements with Senegal’s President Macky Sall, covering everything from customs to industry to tourism.
Moroccan philanthropies and business have not been slow to take up the king’s call to increase their own involvement across Africa. The Mohammed VI Foundation for Sustainable Development has entered into a cooperation agreement with the Senegalese government to provide over $2 million in funding to a project in Dakar’s Soumbedioune Bay that will give artisanal fishermen access to cold storage, a market and other facilities to increase their economic potential. The Moroccan-owned OCP Group recently announced a three-year, $5 million commitment that will ensure 100,000 small-holder farmers in six East and West African countries affordable access to appropriate fertilizers specific to their crops and soils as well as a range of services and support to turn these inputs into larger crop yields and, consequently, higher incomes. Morocco’s two largest bank groups, Attiwarijafa and BMCE, now operate in 19 African countries; the latter institution, which has pioneered accessible financial services for the growing African middle class — for example, it operates 14 retail branches in just Bamako, Mali, alone — even recently unveiled at its annual meeting that it would rebrand itself as “BMCE Bank of Africa.”
The organic emergence within Africa of such solutions to Africa’s development challenges is of utmost importance to the continent’s international partners, some of whom are beginning to recognize the potentially game-changing impact. The French Development Agency (AFD), for example, operating through its private-sector financing institution, Proparco, has advanced its development objectives in sub-Saharan Africa through investments in Attijariwafa’s subsidiary in Mauritania and in BMCE’s Bank of Africa network. In studies last year, I pointed out for U.S. policymakers Morocco’s role both as a gateway to business in Africa given its free-trade agreement with the United States and as a critical player in regional counterterrorism and security efforts…[Full Story]