Morocco is today celebrating the 21st Anniversary of the enthronement of King Mohammed VI.
The Throne Day, marked with many official and popular activities throughout the country, is a symbolic day of pride in the nation’s independence, culture and monarchy.
It is an occasion, which reflects the renewal of the act of allegiance between the Throne and the Moroccan people, their attachment to the national constants and the particular place of the Monarchy in the collective memory and in the heart of all Moroccans.
The Monarchy is one of the oldest in world, dating back to 12 centuries. However, Morocco is a Constitutional Monarchy, with the Constitution, strengthening the democratic system to emphasise the multicultural and multi-religious character of the society.
King Mohammed VI of Morocco’s Alaouite Dynasty, ascended the throne in 1999, following the passing of his father, King Hassan II.
In the past two decades, the King has implemented major reforms that have brought notable achievements to the country and made Morocco an oasis of peace.
The political stability in the North African country, bordering the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea, repositioned it to pursue the course for peaceful and prosperous Africa as it did decades ago, after it gained independence in 1956.
Following their independence from France, Ghana’s first President, Dr Kwame Nkrumah, King Mohammed V Morocco and other pan African leaders of their day, formed the Casablanca Group in 1961 to oppose colonialism, racism and neo-colonialism.
In an interview with the Ghana News Agency on how far Morocco and Ghana had worked towards achieving the Pan-African agenda, Madam Imane Ouaadil, the Ambassador of the Kingdom of Morocco said under the leadership of His Majesty King Mohammed VI, her country has engaged furthering the cause of South-South cooperation, fostering peace and stability on the continent.
They had been leading on key thematic issues for Africa and calling for greater regional integration and development of mutually beneficial economic partnerships among African nations based on solidarity and respect.
She said as a staunch defender of “African responses to African challenges” spirit, the Kingdom had during the trying times of COVID-19 pandemic, donated eight million masks and tonnes of medical supplies to the African Union through Africa Centre for Disease Control and to 17 other African countries.
Madam Ouaadil said the global health crisis had shown that tangible intra-African solidarity must emerge, and African unity and resilience must be at the forefront of the continental agenda and programmes.
This spirit, she said, had been demonstrated by Moroccan companies based in Ghana, who had generously been contributing to the (Ghana) National COVID- 19 Relief Trust Fund.
The Ambassador praised Morocco and Ghana for bringing positive responses to a number of global and regional issues.
Both countries, she said, had spared no efforts, within the relevant international multilateral institutions to which they were members, such as the United Nations, the African Union and others to find solutions regarding sustainable development challenges, immigration, fight against terrorism and violent extremism, climate change among others issues.
Madam Ouaadil said both countries worked jointly within international fora with the same commitment to realize their common aspirations for an integrated prosperous and peaceful Africa.
“Like Ghana, Morocco is fully committed to the global peacekeeping efforts. Since its independence, Morocco has contributed to six UN peacekeeping missions in Africa. My country is currently the 14th troop contributor globally and the second in the Arab World with 2300 elements. Moroccan forces are still present today in the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of the Congo,” she said.
The Ambassador said Morocco had also conducted a number of mediations, which helped achieve substantial progress towards peace, most recently in Libya and Mali.
She said Morocco had been a regional leader on migration, hosting the first Euro-African Conference on Migration and Development (2006) and the UN Global Compact on Migration (2018).
Madam Ouaadil said in 2017, King Mohammed VI was designated to lead on the issue of migration within the AU and that his report proposed the establishment of an AU Special Envoy on Migration and the setting up of an African Observatory on migration, which would be hosted by Morocco to manage the phenomenon and its root causes.
She said Morocco was the only country in the region to have implemented significant migration and asylum reforms and that in 2013, when King Mohammed VI officially announced a plan to adopt a “humanitarian approach” to migration and asylum and since then, “Two waves of regularisation for undocumented individuals took place in Morocco, with 50,000 people, mainly sub-Saharan Africans, receiving resident permits as well as access to free healthcare and public schools”.
Morocco and Ghana
Ambassador Ouaadil said Morocco and Ghana opened a new chapter in their bilateral ties with the signing of 25 Cooperation Agreements in February 2017 during the historic visit of King Mohammed VI to Ghana.
Since then, she said, the Ghanaian ministries and government agencies and their Moroccan counterparts had held many consultations to implement the agreements’ projects and programmes .
However, due to the current global health crisis, those consultations came to an abrupt halt.
“I can say, however, that during this year, the Moroccan Normalization Institute (IMANOR) and the Ghanaian Normalization Authority (GSA) have met on several occasions to refine the details of their cooperation,” she explained.
“A delegation from the Moroccan Ministry of Finance visited Ghana this year to put the final touches on the agreement on the avoidance of double taxation and the prevention of fiscal evasion in relation with taxes on income.
“Other agreements are on the last stages of endorsement by the legislative bodies either in Morocco or here in Ghana or are being refined for signature when things get back to normal.”
On Agriculture, Ambassador Ouaadil said Morocco’s Office Cherifien de Phosphates (OCP) and the Ghanaian Government on September 2019, an agreement to build a fertilizer plant in Ghana by 2024, which would have a production capacity of one million tonnes.
Once functional, the project would contribute to ensuring food security in Ghana and self-sufficiency in terms of consumption.
It would also provide an opportunity, in the long-term, for exporting a number of crops specific to Ghana.
“On December 1st, Morocco’s OCP Foundation and the Ghanaian Ministry of Agriculture launched a fertility map development project that puts a central focus on capacity building for the Ministry of Food and Agriculture staff (MoFA), providing laboratories with adequate equipment. Within the framework of this project Morocco will train more than 130 MoFA agronomists, engineers, laboratory technicians, and managers.”
The Ambassador said Morocco strongly believed that the mobilisation of private investments in the continent was essential to African economic integration as it helped to create jobs, improve productivity and increase exports, adding that, during the King’s visit in 2017, “a special impulse was given to encourage the private companies in both countries to join hands”.
She said many of the agreements signed were put into effect with the GCB Bank Limited of Ghana and Attijari Bank of Morocco signing in 2018 an agreement complementing the MoU signed during the visit, encouraging the two institutions to function as correspondence banks to facilitate trade and finance, deepen capital markets and jointly organise trade missions aimed at strengthening bilateral trade.
Ambassador Ouaadil said the strategic partnership between the two banks had since then been effective and opened up new market perspectives for both parties.
She said the Morocco Poultry Federation was in Ghana, last year, for a maiden Ghana-Morocco Poultry Summit in Accra, with both parties agreeing that their partnership had the potential of making both countries major players in the poultry industry.
The Ambassador said a delegation from the Ghana National Association of Poultry Farmers (GNAPF) was invited to take part in the Dawajine Fair in Casablanca last November and an interesting dynamic was also going on regarding the infrastructure cooperation.
“More Moroccan companies have come to Ghana this year in different sectors of activity and more will come after the pandemic settles, so we are very optimistic.”
Morocco and West Africa
Ambassador Ouaadil said Morocco had become the top African investor in West Africa and the second biggest in the continent, as a whole, with an outflow of USD 4.5 billion. 62.9 per cent of Moroccan Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) directed to sub-Saharan Africa, covering the following sectors: banking (31%), telecommunication (21%), industry (12%), real estate (11%), holdings (10%), other service (9%), trade (5%) and insurance (1 %).
She said Moroccan enterprises which were present in more than 30 African countries created positive ecosystems for growth and that Moroccan banks, such as Bank of Africa and Attijariwafabank, were contributing to development by extending up to USD 100 million credit loans to government-funded projects and to local small and medium enterprises.
The Ambassador said under the theme, “Doing Business with Ghana”, the Moroccan Association of Exporters (ASMEX) hosted an economic mission in November 2019, after which her office and that of Mr Stephen Mahamudu Yakubu, her Ghanaian counterpart in Morocco, had been receiving propositions of collaboration.
“ASMEX was also planning a mission to Ghana in 2020, but due to the pandemic it was postponed to ‘better times,’” she explained.
“In my opinion, additional efforts should be extended by both parties to forge new partnerships especially in areas such as the agro industry, renewable energy and tourism where we can learn a lot from each other and develop a mutually beneficial collaboration”.
Africa and Education
Madam Ouaadil said under the leadership of King Mohammed VI, and following his instructions, which had placed Africa at the heart of Morocco’s diplomacy, the Kingdom was now the top African provider of study grants that targetted African students.
Through the Moroccan Agency for International Cooperation (AMCI), Morocco had trained more than 25,000 graduates from 47 African countries, including Ghana.
The Ambassador said additionally, hundreds of sub-Saharan African professionals were provided vocational training in its “centers of excellence” to benefit from Morocco’s experience and know-how in different disciplines.
“Since the establishment of our diplomatic relations, Morocco has attached great importance to education cooperation with Ghana, and that has become a very important part of our relations. In the academic year 2019- 2020, about 80 Ghanaian students are going to enrol in Moroccan universities. For the Academic Year 2020-2021 Morocco is maintaining its 90 scholarships offer to Ghanaian students despite the coronavirus pandemic. Twenty of these scholarships are dedicated to vocational training,” she said.
In December 2019, Morocco hosted the 8th Africa Students Youth Summit organised by the Moroccan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Moroccan International Cooperation Agency (AMCI) with the All Africa Students Union (AASU) based in Ghana and the Ghana Morocco Old Students Association (GHAMOSA). It was attended by 1000 delegates, 80 of which were from Ghana alone.
She said on the cultural level, “an interesting exchange was in place between Morocco and Ghana and that a Ghanaian-born musician artist Reuben Yemoh Odoi had settled in Morocco and made a name for himself in Casablanca by fusing Moroccan, Ghanaian, and contemporary hiplife and Afrobeat music into an instrument-forward style of music”.
“I have shared two days ago on the Twitter account of the Embassy an amazing picture of a mural in Casablanca designed by the immensely talented Ghanaian artist Mohammed Awudu during the Casamouja Festival 2019 in Morocco. The president of Visa for Music, a well renowned Moroccan festival, visited Ghana this year to meet with Ghanaian artists and explore the prospects of cooperation in the field.
“This people to people dynamic is what I deem crucial to the strengthening of our bilateral ties and I have been advocating for it since my arrival in Ghana one year ago. I am looking forward to resuming my meetings with Ghanaian officials and stakeholders to further pursue this agenda,” the Ambassador emphasised.
Ambassador Ouaadil said Morocco had always called for greater political and economic regional integration, adding that in 1989, it hosted the Summit establishing the Arab Maghreb Union in Marrakech and a decade later, joined the Community of Sahelo-Saharan States (CENSAD).
She said in 2016, Morocco officially requested to join ECOWAS and on March 20, 2019, the Kingdom ratified the agreement launching the AfCFTA.
“For Morocco, the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) is a milestone and a historic move on the path to realizing the continent’s long-standing aspirations of comprehensive intra-African exchange.
“This initiative by Africa, for Africa, is a critical step towards the achievement of multifaceted development in Africa, and a pragmatic step towards an integrated, prosperous Africa, which is attuned to international realities,” the Ambassador said.
She said after developing modern infrastructure, such as the biggest port in Africa (Tanger Med port), the largest solar plant (Noor), the first high speed bullet train on the continent and the MENA region, the new focus of Morocco was the development of regionally integrating infrastructure projects.
Ambassador Ouaadil said in this regard, Morocco and Nigeria agreed to build a USD 20 billion Atlantic African Gas Pipeline Project transporting gas from West Africa to Europe and that project would allow natural gas to be transported from gas-producing countries to Europe, but more than that, it would benefit the whole of West Africa, including Ghana.
She said it would contribute to creating a regional electricity market and be a substantial source of energy, which would help develop industry, improve economic competitiveness and create an environment conducive to development and growth.
“We count on the Government of Ghana’s support for the fulfillment of this gigantic project for the welfare of all our African nations,” she stated
The Ambassador said Morocco believed that the destinies of Morocco and its African neighbours were inextricably linked and that there could be no progress without peace and stability.
She explained that Morocco, which is a 12-Century old monarchy, and a sovereign Muslim State, was attached to its national unity and to its territorial integrity.
Madam Ouaadil said the unity was achieved by the convergence of its Arab-Islamist, Berber and saharo-hassanie components, nourished and enriched by its African, Andalusian, Hebraic and Mediterranean influences.
Thus Morocco, she said, had been at the forefront in the fight against terrorism and violent extremism since the Casablanca terrorist attacks in 2003 and that King Mohammed VI facilitated the enactment of a multi-pronged approach to tackle the menace of terrorism and separatism that unfortunately threaten the continent.
The Ambassador said in June 2016, the King inaugurated the Mohammed VI Foundation for African Oulema, with a mission of strengthening age-old historical and religious ties between Morocco and its African neighbours.
She said the Foundation brought together 120 Muslim scholars recognised for their knowledge of Islamic law and theology from 31 countries in Africa and that the Ghana section of the Foundation was inaugurated in 2018 under the chairmanship of Faidaltu Sheikh Mustapha Ibrahim.
Madam Ouaadil said it had ever since spared no effort to diffuse the speeches of religious excessive and extremist aberrations and had consolidated the values of tolerance, peace and interfaith dialogue and peaceful coexistence, especially among the Ghanaian Muslim youth.
She said Morocco was pushing a new developmental agenda for Africa where African nations would no longer depend on handouts but rely on their own resources, human genius and wisdom to transition to a more prosperous standard of living.
The Ambassador said Morocco had, therefore, opted to share and transfer its know-how and offering to build a safe, solidarity-based future for all Africans.
“We enthusiastically invite Ghana to join in our country’s dynamism and give new impetus to our vision for the continent. We must work together to enable Africa to enter an era of prosperity,” she declared.
“Africa has to be proud of its resources, its cultural heritage, its spiritual values. Morocco and Ghana have the eagerness, the means and the genius, together, we can fulfill our peoples’ aspirations.”