AFRICA, as the continent of hope endowed with immense natural resources, is rapidly undergoing change as the regional economic groupings are set to stimulate the economies of member states.
In West Africa, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is meant to foster interstate economic and political cooperation. Dating back to pre-colonial times, West Africans have been among the world’s most mobile populations although much of the migration had been intra-regional.
The Kingdom of Morocco, one of the economic giants in North Africa, will officially join ECOWAS as a full member at the end of this year. This will be Morocco’s lifetime commitment and it considers as a marriage without Brexit or divorce.
“The approach of Morocco’s accession to ECOWAS is on the right track and will be confirmed at the next ordinary session of the Heads of State and government on December 16 this year in the Togolese capital, Lome,” said Marcel De Souza, the Chairman of ECOWAS Commission, when briefing Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita during his recent visit to the Moroccan capital, Rabat.
Moroccan King Mohammed VI has shown commitment that his country is well-positioned to stimulate western Africa’s regional economy. The ECOWAS Commission has already crafted legal and technical provisions to enable Morocco become full member of the community and it respects the general principles of acceptance of its membership.
Morocco’s decision for admission will cover the free movement of goods, services, people and capital, the implementation of risk prevention agreement, the implementation of rules of good governance and democracy.
ECOWAS is currently made up of fifteen member countries that are located in the Western African region bordering the Sahara Desert on the north. Member states include Burkina Faso, Benin, Cote D’Ivorie, Cape Verde, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo.
These countries share the diversified ethnic and cultural lines with ethnicity groups between two or three countries. Philosophically, King Mohammed VI believes that his country will use its revolutionary skilled professionals to spearhead ECOWAS and Africa’s economic development.
Addressing the nation during the 64th Revolution on August 20, this year, King Mohammed VI said his country’s commitment to defend Africa’s causes and interests started in the early 1960s during the continent’s independence struggle.
So, Moroccan commitment to defending Africa’s causes and interest is not new. It reflects a standard policy consistently carried out by its proud leaders. “Moroccan commitment to and interest in Africa is by no means a coincidence; nor is it the result of transient consideration but reflects as sense of royalty to a shared history and illustrates our firm belief that ours is a common destiny,” said King Mohammed VI.
Morocco African policy, says the King Mohamed VI, is based on thorough understanding of African realities as he has visited over 29 African countries– of which 14 were visited October last year. The visits were aimed at serving shared interest through solidarity based on win-win partnership.
“Our regained membership to African Union has added up our commitment on Africa to make Africa the continent with progress. This has been our top priority,” King Mohammed VI said in a speech to the nation.
Within ECOWAS, the King said Morocco will seek to lay down the foundation for genuine African integration that serves the continent and fulfills its people’s aspirations for development and dignified life, in an environment characterized by unity, security and stability.
“African people understand that our cooperation and support for their efforts in many fields,” he said. ECOWAS Commission Chairman De Souza recalled that the Kingdom is already very historically linked economically, bilaterally within almost all 15 members of the West Africa economic bloc.
He said Morocco will also have to adhere to trade liberalisation scheme and to the common external tariff of ECOWAS, which counts 340 million consumers. In long-term, De Souza estimates that it will be necessary to harmonize the 6,000 tariff lines available to the ECOWAS and the 17,800 tariff lines of Morocco.
The next step to finalize Morocco accession to the West African regional bloc must reconcile three elements including a strategic discussion with a technical dimension, knowing that Morocco accession to ECOWAS is a suigeneris construction.
According to King Mohammed VI, Morocco’s intention to join ECOWAS is to lay down the foundation of genuine African integration that serves the continent and fulfills its people’s aspiration for development and for dignified life, in an environment characterized by unity, peace and stability.
With a population of 35.8 million people, Morocco has an extended human capital development that will offer not only Morocco but also the ECOWAS economic growth. Morocco has skilled personnel with good education and experience which can critically improve an economic growth and productivity.
The country is being identified as one of the sources of human capital and technology that are vital for economic development in Africa. It has also arable land with agricultural potential of which it produces one third of grains--wheat, barley and corn– that enable food selfsufficient and reduction of price volatility within the region.
The major resources of the Moroccan economy are agriculture, phosphates, tourism and fishing. Industry and mining account for one third of the annual Gross Domestic Product. Morocco is the largest third producer of phosphate after the United States and China.
The country also has a vibrant textile sector.