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Morocco: Africa is the future

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The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) agreed in principle to Morocco’s membership request at its 51st summit in Monrovia, Liberia on 4 June. According to a member of the ECOWAS Commission, “The hardest part is done. Now we have to work on the most complicated part.” Indeed, following this agreement in principle, Morocco and ECOWAS will begin a negotiation process to clarify the legal and technical aspects of membership, which poses significant issues on both sides since Morocco does not border any ECOWAS member countries and is not part of the West African space as defined by the African Union. An article published in the African Business magazine by the Sahel and West Africa Club Secretariat (SWAC‑OECD) analyses the role of Morocco in West Africa and the implications of its future ECOWAS membership. It recalls the strong historical ties between Morocco and sub-Saharan Africa through trans-Saharan trade and a common cultural heritage, as well as the active role played by the Kingdom in the African Union peacekeeping forces and in combating jihadists. However, Morocco’s move shows, above all, that it is continuing its economic projections in Africa. Morocco made a very early decision to invest in Africa, notably in major infrastructure projects such as the Morocco-Nigeria gas pipeline, and became the number one investor in West Africa and the second in all of Africa. The Moroccan strategy is part of a long-term approach that recognises Africa’s place as a “new global growth hub.” Better than the co-operation and trade agreements, membership in ECOWAS will offer Moroccan companies direct access to a market of 350 million consumers, with a regional GDP of USD 1 500 billion (PPP). As an ECOWAS member, Morocco will be part of a free trade area with a common external tariff. It will be a member of an area of free movement of persons with a community passport, which guarantees all citizens of ECOWAS the right to travel without visas and grants them residency rights. The Moroccan economy will undoubtedly attract a large number of sub-Saharan Africans in search of opportunities. Is Morocco really ready to open its doors to the people and products of West Africa?

 

Read the article (French)