Leading to the COP 22 conference, which will be hosted by Morocco, the forum Africa, Time for a New Deal, co-organized by the think tank Club 2030 Afrique and Forbes Africa Magazine, is inviting African leaders to reflect together on the continent’s challenges and the different perspectives for inter-African collaborations for African solutions.
The first edition, under the theme ‘Towards African Solutions to the Continent’s Challenges’, will take place on 2 June 2016, in Marrakech, Morocco, a country pushing for a new South-South partnership.
Since the independence of African states, commercial exchanges between Morocco and sub-Saharan states have been a priority of the Moroccan economic and trade policy.
The highest authorities of the country have emphasized it repeatedly and frequent visits of the King in the sub-Saharan region during the past few years also testify to this.
The development of commercial exchanges and the strengthening of a partnership with this region of the African continent are being put forward with a true consciousness, on both sides, of the need to elevate these relations to the highest possible level, as potential and opportunities for co-operation are substantial.
The volume of Moroccan exports to Africa hasn’t stopped growing over the past years.
From 5.3% in 2008, they exceeded 8% in 2010, according to the Moroccan Ministry of Foreign Trade, now setting the objective at 20% by 2018. The global context being
characterized by the intensification of competition on the Northern markets,Africa could well constitute for Morocco a strategic niche market for national companies, because of its potential size, which should gain in importance, thanks to the efforts deployed by the international community to promote the African continent’s development.
Through the implementation of socioeconomic projects and the contribution to financing of the construction of infrastructure (a Casablanca-Nouakchott-Dakar maritime line, modernization of airlines), Morocco is concretely expressing its commitment to peace and development in Africa.
Multi-sectoral experiences of Morocco and the expertise of the Kingdom in terms of human development have allowed the building of a solid basis for a responsible and lasting Morocco-Africa partnership, based on a true co-development frame, where the human and his lifestyle are at the centre of the Royal African Vision.
This vision is heightened by concrete actions of solidarity, such as erasing the debt of the least developed countries of the continent, welcoming African students and managers in Moroccan universities and training centres, legalizing the situation of illegal Sub-Saharans in Morocco, or financing socioeconomic projects.
This co-operation dynamic, carried to the highest level by His Majesty the King Mohammed VI, is strongly supported by the national economic fibre. Morocco’s ‘national champions’ are present in several Central and West African countries in the banking sector (Attijariwafa Bank, BMCE Bank of Africa, Banque Populaire), in the telecommunications (Maroc Telecom), as well as in the sectors of insurance, energy, agrifood and real estate. Stock of Maroccan FDI in Africa totalled MAD 10.5 billion in 2012. During the 2008–2012 period, every year, MAD 2 billion have been invested in Sub-Saharan Africa.
With its multidimensional reach, the ‘Moroccan Model’ in Africa, as initiated by HMK Mohammed VI, is creating a growing interest among countries of the continent.
Morocco is a key actor of the African economy. The ‘Morocco’ brand, enhanced by the effect of the Royal Vision on African populations, is increasingly sought after by political leaders and economic operators of states who do not yet have a tradition of co-operation with the Kingdom and who want this brand to move into their country.
The first asset of Morocco to succeed in this expansion resides in a package rooted in expertise gained through its strategic partnership with Europe. Morocco has integrated the public-private partnership concept since 2006, at a national scale for all of its sectoral strategies.
On an industrial level, the Emergence Plan translated into the creation of a vast ‘industrial periphery for Europe’ that was achieved through an optimization of off-shoring towards Morocco. The industrial attractiveness of Africa’s new champion lies on the key sector of logistics. The Green Morocco Plan and Halieutis Plan for the development and promotion of agriculture and fishing resources.
Its second asset is materialized by its capacity, expertise and competitiveness in the service sector (finance, telecoms, higher education, private health care).
Morocco’s social and fiscal attractiveness, with its off-shoring mode, makes it the third relocation zone in the world, after China and Eastern Europe.
Its third and quite substantial asset consists in the role of airlock played by Morocco for a diversity of cash flows- close to EUR 2 billion in investments per year on average, from international or Gulf State financial institutions, transfers from Moroccans living abroad nearing five billion euros yearly, and its exports, whether industrial, mining or agricultural, amounting to EUR 11 billion annually.
Its fourth asset is embodied by the leading role of its private sector, its increasingly performing SMEs, and a human capital trained according to international standards. A sound environment for business, combined with a series of reforms meant to reinforce good governance of public finances, to fight against corruption and to establish a single window approach to streamline the flow of private investments.
The choice of an enhanced co-operation model involving variable geometry. A new relation to the economic space which, progressively, tends to overcome the inertia of regional or continental organizations.
In other words, a redefinition of co-operation areas on a more flexible contractual basis on which different parameters interplay in the construction of co-operation spaces. Concretely, what are the common grounds between Morocco, Gabon, Ivory Coast and Guinea, apart from their belonging to the African continent and their affiliation to the Francophonie?
New elements of a humanistic, cultural and spiritual nature seem to define the geopolitical foundation that will lead to this change. In short, overcoming inertia associated to obsolete pan-African organizations, imposed by geography and redesigning entities based on bi/tri or multilateral partnerships without any obligation of membership, as it is now the norm.
A new geography, centred on South-South co-operation, which deconstructs the physical space to the benefit of dynamic spatial micro entities.
Khaled Igue is President of the think tank Club 2030 Afrique, a non-profit institution whose main objective is to put its competencies, knowledge and energy to the service of African governance bodies, in order to accompany them through the emergence process that will lead to a balanced social and economic development by 2030.