Interview: Mohcine Jazouli
What would you characterise as Morocco’s strategy with respect to the African continent?
MOHCINE JAZOULI: King Mohammed VI has been leading the way for 20 years in this regard, with the clear goal of expanding Morocco’s presence across the continent. These concrete effects have been bearing fruit for around 10 years, with key sectors of the Moroccan economy investing in Africa. The essence of this vision is the concept of co-development. The aim is to simultaneously enhance the development of Morocco and of the rest of the continent, which is why projects are carefully selected to maximise their local impact. This can mean improving food security by developing agro-industrial value chains, securing access to water, or strengthening logistical capacities. Moroccan companies successfully partnering with other African entities is more important for us than simply promoting Moroccan companies.
Which region or countries constitute priorities within this overall strategy?
JAZOULI: The idea is to include all 53 African states.
The strategy is oriented by region, through regional economic communities and their main leaders, such as Nigeria, Egypt, Angola, South Africa and Ethiopia. We consider these countries our main partners in developing projects both directly and in their respective sub-region. We started to cooperate with Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire and Guinea because it made sense for linguistic, religious and cultural reasons, but we have no boundaries to developing new partnerships.
To what extent can these economic ambitions also benefit small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), as well as bigger corporations?
JAZOULI: We need to generate a “desire for Africa” among SMEs. We must therefore help them with support mechanisms, guarantees and aid funds. Promoting private equity can also be a significant boosting channel. Another important approach is to develop an ecosystem for SMEs centred around big Moroccan groups that are already well positioned in Africa. A good example is what OCP Group, one of the largest phosphate and fertilizer companies in the world, has been doing by bringing its usual subcontracting and partner companies into its different projects.
Alongside this, it is hoped that investment will flow in both directions, with Morocco inviting African companies to come and invest in the country. There are many opportunities in place, and our diplomatic channels are always ready to provide assistance to any African investor seeking to do business in Morocco.
How has the role of Morocco’s network of ambassadors in Africa evolved over time?
JAZOULI: All of our ambassadors have different qualities and personalities, but we try to provide them with the right tools and human resources to respond to the expectations that our vision implies. As the focus used to be purely diplomatic, we have been setting up specific processes and back office capacities with a view to strengthening the ministry’s economic capacities. In that regard, economic advisers will gradually be deployed across the continent to act as economic bridges between African states and Morocco, in order to help channel investments in both directions.
How will Morocco joining ECOWAS impact trade?
JAZOULI: Morocco’s accession to ECOWAS should be undertaken by way of a process that ensures every member state is at ease with the idea of welcoming a new member. Every member state should see benefits, and we are confident that the impact studies currently under way will confirm profitable outcomes. With Morocco’s membership, ECOWAS countries will also have access to countries with which the kingdom already has bilateral agreements. In addition, Morocco will be able to share experience, best practices, processes and know-how with its various African partners.
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