ISSN 2330-717X

Morocco The Ideal Platform For India-Africa Economic And Trade Cooperation – OpEd

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The Third India Africa Summit will take place in New Delhi between October 26-30. Over 50 African countries are expected to participate with most of them represented by their heads of state or government.

This will be India’s most important and extensive outreach and will set the stage for even more economic and political interaction between India and Africa. A rapidly growing India needs a platform in Africa to reach out to interesting markets and venues to establish strong economic and trade partnerships.

Morocco could be the ideal gateway in Africa due to its close and strong relations that the north African kingdom enjoys in the African continent.

King Mohammed’s frequent trips in Africa were greeted with elation and many Moroccan and African observers assumed, that those royal frequent trips in Africa translate into a robust and activist Morocco Africa policy.

Those expectations were largely accurate when King ordered the launching of humanitarian and medical assistance to many Sub Saharan countries and urged both the Moroccan government and the private sector to engage more in Africa in stepping up their commercial and diplomatic ties.

Governance, Africa’s youth, and women’s empowerment, standard fare in Morocco’s Africa repertoire. Africa’s need for strong institutions rather than strong men in a honest effort to reach out to up-and-coming African leaders and entrepreneurs through a series of high-level forums; and promoting health and empowerment for women and girls.

But the major objective in those royal visits was the emphasis on bolstering Morocco.-Africa political, economic commercial and spiritual engagement. it speaks to Africa’s changing economic landscape, where opportunities—and competition—for investment are expanding, and where traditional donor-recipient relations are giving way to more mature partnerships.

The continent has made impressive economic progress in the last decade, with the International Monetary Fund forecasting average real GDP growth in sub-Saharan Africa at 5.4 percent this year and 5.7 percent in 2014. High commodity prices—and high demand from China and others for mineral and energy resources—have contributed to this growth, and new oil and natural gas finds are setting the continent up for a hydrocarbon boom that will draw big new investments going forward. But sectors outside the extractive industries—telecommunications, transportation, construction, wholesale and retail, financial services—have played a major role as well, as has a growing consumer class. Other countries have seized the opportunity.

The Moroccan private sector has done much to encourage Moroccan investors to seek investment opportuntiites in Africa. In a win-win partnership Morocco conveys to African governments and citizens the comparative advantage of Moroccan private-sector investment versus other international investors—in terms of quality, transparency, technology and knowledge transfer, training, and systems development. And third, Morocco will seek to harness the capacities of its government agencies and private-sector partners to help improve the investment climate in African states. This will include technical assistance to strengthen government and institutional capacity and an expected announcement to partner in various fileds especially in infrastructure which has been a long-standing impediment to Africa’s economic and industrial growth.

As with past King’s trips to Africa, the tone of the visit always upbeats, focusing on opportunities and successes. Equally important objective of those trips aimed to build and sustain Morocco’s positive influence and partnership with African governments and publics. Violent extremist organizations have increased both in their geographic reach and their capacity to mount attacks. The epicenter has been Mali where extremist militia, some with links to al Qaeda seized two-thirds of the country until they were pushed back by French troops. Morocco has repeatedly voiced its concern that the threat could mushroom if groups such as al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb turn the whole region of Sub Saharan Africa into a sfe haven.

Across this region, the winds of change bring both promise and peril. So King Mohammed’s visits are seen as an opportunity, to reaffirm the unbreakable bond between Morocco and other African nations, to re-state Morocco’s unwavering commitment to Africa’s security and boost its economy.

The presidents of African countries that King Mohammed visited unanimously confirmed the need for a strategic alliance that has become greater than ever amid unpredictable changes in Africa. Morocco, through those royal visits, continues to seek peace, security and prosperity in the African continent.

In an unstable and uncertain sub-Saharan Africa the need for a strong alliance is greater than ever. It is the key to thwarting dangers to advancing peace. It’s the key to achieve a stable and secure and prosperous Africa that the Africans yearn for all and with all their hearts.

This unique Moroccan strategy was on display during the king’s tow-country jaunt. Projects are underway, spearheaded by Morocco, to electrify 550 villages along the Senegal River and bring affordable medicine to fight cholera, malaria, and diarrhea diseases to Africa’s poorest countries. At the same time, the king held brass tacks talks on boosting security cooperation—and in Senegal, the monarch convened a gathering of moderate Islamic leaders to talk about strengthening their role in providing an alternative to extremist ideologies. This royal visit confirms morocco’s keen interest to promote peace and prosperity in the African continent.

In fact, since his rise to the throne in 1999, King Mohammed has put the African continent among his top foreign policy agenda. He has visited many African countries launching socio-economic projects that seek to promote social development of Africans and at the same time offering opportunities for Africans to learn from Moroccan know-how to promote their economies.

Morocco, as has been stated by many international economic institutions, could become an economic and trade platform for African countries to reach out to Europe, the United States and Asia. Europe, America and Asia’s strong economic, political, and security ties to Morocco and strong economic, political, and security interests in greater Africa need to come together. It can be an economic boom at a time when a windfall is badly needed, and a boost to global security at a time when concerns about terror on the African continent are growing. Morocco is thus a great economic opportunity for India.

Said Temsamani

Said Temsamani

Said Temsamani is a Moroccan political observer and consultant, who follows events in his country and across North Africa. He is a member of Washington Press Club.

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