The Africa Report: What has been driving Morocco’s engagement with the rest of Africa?
Abdou Diop: The evolution of relations has three key elements. From a multilateral point of view, since 2017 and its return to the African Union (AU), Morocco has worked hard on all the big African issues – migration, terrorism, economics, and so on. A Moroccan has become the executive director of the AU, which means that Morocco is really working well in African institutions. And we see Morocco playing a big role in the fight against Covid-19.
From a bilateral point of view, Morocco has diversified its cooperation over the past five years, building economic ties with Ethiopia, Rwanda, Zambia and all of Southern Africa, which were not economic partners before. And, from a political point of view, relations with many countries are really going in a good direction. The fact that more than 20 African countries have opened consulates in the Moroccan Sahara is a good example of what’s happening. We are reinforcing our ties, and specifically our ties in relation to our national cause.
What key sectors can you point to?
Moroccan companies have invested in what are economic priorities for many countries: services, industry, real estate, education, health. And we are increasingly investing in value-chain complementarities. A very good example is the investment [by OCP Group] in Ethiopia, in which Moroccan resources – phosphates – are creating a big industrial investment, leveraging on Ethiopian gas and creating a fertiliser industry in a country where 100% of the fertiliser is imported. So, tomorrow Ethiopia will become a fertiliser exporter and we will help to strengthen the productivity of Ethiopian agriculture.
We are on the learning curve because, before 2000, Morocco wasn’t investing in Africa. […] Not every action can be a success, but those lessons make us stronger, so we can be one of the main investors on the continent.
What about the move into Anglophone Africa?
Our journey of investing in Africa began 20 years ago. Our comfort zone was, first, West Africa, and then Central Africa, in sectors where you don’t need a lot of capital expenditure. But that was the beginning, and […] we moved progressively forward.
The work that has been done in five years in Rwanda, Ethiopia, Ghana, Tanzania, and in some others like Liberia, Sierra Leone, shows us there is a change in the mindset. Now we even have some companies who have invested in South Africa. So, today this psychological gap is behind us, and in coming years we will have more and more investment by Moroccan companies outside Morocco.
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