Viewpoint: His Majesty King Mohammed VI
We have thought it through carefully, and it is now so obvious: it is time to return home. At a time when the kingdom is among the most developed African nations, and when a majority of member states looks forward to our return, we have decided to join our family again – a family we had not really left. In fact, despite having been absent from AU institutions for so many years, our links, which were never severed, have remained strong, and African sister nations have always been able to rely on us. Strong bilateral relations have thus been significantly developed.
Since 2000 Morocco has signed nearly 1000 agreements with African countries in various fields of cooperation. By way of comparison, between 1956 and 1999, 515 agreements were signed, whereas 949 agreements have been signed since 2000 – in other words, almost twice as many. During this period I, personally, was keen to give fresh impetus to this action by making more visits to various African subregions. On each of the 46 visits I paid to 25 African countries, numerous agreements were signed in the private sector.
My action has been particularly geared towards the field of training, which is at the heart of my country’s cooperation with sister nations. This has enabled a number of African students to continue their higher education in Morocco, thanks to the thousands of scholarships given to them. Furthermore, major strategic projects were set up during my visits to these countries. First, I had the pleasure of launching the Africa Atlantic Gas Pipeline Project with His Excellency Muhammadu Buhari, president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. This project will of course allow natural gas to be transported from gas-producing countries to Europe, but more than that, it will benefit the whole of West Africa. It will, indeed, contribute to creating a regional electricity market and be a substantial source of energy which will help develop industry, improve economic competitiveness and speed up social development. Moreover, it will help build more peaceful bilateral and multilateral relations, and thus create an environment conducive to development and growth.
Secondly, as part of projects aimed at improving agricultural productivity and promoting food security and rural development, fertiliser production plants have been set up with both Ethiopia and Nigeria. These projects will benefit the continent as a whole. This is the objective of the initiative for the Adaptation of African Agriculture, or the AAA Initiative, which we promoted during the COP22 UN Conference on Climate Change. As soon as it was launched, the initiative was backed by some 30 African countries. The AAA Initiative is aimed at providing more significant funding for the adaptation of small-scale African agriculture. It will also support the structuring and acceleration of agricultural projects in Africa through four programmes: rational soil management, sustainable management of agricultural water, climate-related risk management and solidarity-based funding for promoters of small projects.
Lastly, our ties have also remained strong as far as security and peace are concerned. Since its independence, Morocco has contributed to six UN peacekeeping missions in Africa, engaging thousands of troops in various theatres of operation. Moroccan forces are still present today in the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Morocco has also conducted a number of mediations which helped achieve substantial progress towards peace, namely in Libya and the Mano River region.
My vision of South-South cooperation is clear and constant: my country shares what it has, without ostentation. Within the framework of clear-sighted collaboration, Morocco – which is a major economic player in Africa – will become a catalyst for shared expansion. We are acting to stop people from living on the fringes of society, with no work, no health care, nowhere to live and no access to education. We are acting so couples, particularly those from mixed marriages – between Moroccans and sub-Saharans – will not be parted.
All this constructive action to help migrants has bolstered Morocco’s image and strengthened the bonds we had already forged. Some say that, through this commitment, Morocco is seeking to gain leadership in Africa; I tell them that it is to Africa that the kingdom is seeking to give the leadership. As soon as the kingdom becomes a member and is able to contribute to the agenda of activities, its action will, on the contrary, help bring about unity and progress. We participated in the creation of this beautiful pan-African edifice, and we naturally look forward to regaining the place that is ours within it. Morocco has always considered that its strength comes primarily from the integration of the Maghreb subregion; it is, however, clear that the flame of the Arab Maghreb Union has faded, because faith in a common interest has vanished. Today, we regret to see that the Maghreb Union is the least integrated region on the African continent, if not the whole world. Intraregional trade has reached 10% between members of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and 19% between countries in the Southern African Development Community, while it is still stagnating at less than 3% between Maghreb countries. Similarly, while ECOWAS countries are moving forward on ambitious integration projects, and ECOWAS is offering a reliable space for the free movement of persons, goods and capital, economic cooperation between Maghreb countries is at a low level. If we do not act by following the example of neighbouring African subregions, the Maghreb Union will crumble due to its chronic incapacity to live up to the ambitions of the Marrakech Treaty, which gave birth to it 28 years ago.
All this confirms that Morocco is right to choose Africa. By doing so, my country has opted to share and transfer its know-how; in concrete terms, it is offering to build a safe, solidarity-based future. We enthusiastically invite African nations to join our country’s dynamism and to give new impetus to the whole of our continent. It is time for Africa to benefit from Africa’s wealth. We must work to enable our land, after decades of looting, to enter an era of prosperity. Admittedly, colonialism is not the sole cause of Africa’s problems; however, its negative impact persists. For a long time, we have looked elsewhere to seek help in making a decision, a commitment. Is it not time for this tropism to be stopped? Is it not time to look towards our continent? To consider its cultural wealth, its human potential? Africa should be proud of its resources, its cultural heritage, its spiritual values; and the future should strongly support this natural pride. Africa can and must validate, on its own, its elections and thus endorse its citizens’ free choice. It has regulatory tools and legal institutions, such as Constitutional Councils and Supreme Courts, which can settle electoral disputes and appeals. These institutions could be reinforced if need be, but they exist, they are operational. Otherwise, what is the use of having them? Africa is governed today by a new generation of uninhibited leaders. They are working for the stability, political openness, economic development and social progress of their peoples. They are working with determination, resolve and conviction, without caring about being graded or assessed by the West. For several decades, the growth rates in some countries in the North have not exceeded those in some African countries. And yet, these countries with ailing economies, poor social situations and weakening leadership assume the right to impose their development model on us. I repeat: I consider the notion of third-worldism to be outdated. Such practices bear signs of economic opportunism. The respect and benevolence shown to a country should no longer depend on its natural resources and the profit expected. This is the path to solidarity, peace and union chosen by my country. We reaffirm our commitment to the development and prosperity of African citizens. We have the means and the genius; together, we can fulfil our peoples’ aspirations.
Inspired by the king’s speech at the 28th African Union Summit in Addis Ababa
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