Rabat - At the first Blue Funds International Summit, held last weekend in Brazzaville, all eyes were set on the Moroccan monarch, as he delivered the keynote speech at his most high-profile public appearance in months, following his successful heart surgery in France.
Rabat – At the first Blue Funds International Summit, held last weekend in Brazzaville, all eyes were set on the Moroccan monarch, as he delivered the keynote speech at his most high-profile public appearance in months, following his successful heart surgery in France.
Invited as the special guest of Africa’s go-to summit on climate change and biodiversity, the King brought an armada of ministers and business leaders with him to reintroduce Morocco’s Africa-focused and South-South diplomacy positioned at the heart of discussions on the sidelines of the Brazzaville climate conference.
Guinean President, Alpha Condé, once joked about king Mohammed VI being better versed in diplomatic dealings than his ministers and expert advisors. “He knows the dossiers more than his ministers,” the Guinean president said.
On April 29, Condé’s joke seemed especially fitting, as the monarch filled the summit docket with continental projects for Pan-African sustainable development and South-South cooperation, bringing a close to months of a relatively uninspiring continental agenda. It is evident that King Mohammed VI is back in the driver seat of an initiative that he personally launched.
With King Mohammed VI restored to leadership, it seems, Morocco not only gains in momentum and confidence, but possesses become the gravitational center of the continent that the King himself has put at the core of Morocco’s diplomacy.
Leading by Example
Speaking at the conference, the King reminded his “African brothers” of the centrality of sustainable development and socio-economic self-sufficiency, all of which he said entail the integration of the challenges facing African populations into decision-making processes.
Beyond national representation, King Mohammed VI spoke for the entire continent in Brazzaville, illustrating his conviction that if Morocco is serious about its aspirations of continental leadership, it must be a reliable and exemplary leader poised to step in, inspire, and propose alternatives whenever urgent needs arise.
In a speech that emphasized the necessity of “an awakening of consciousness” for a new and prosperous Africa, the Moroccan monarch told his peers and other participants that Morocco will never relent in its determination to contribute to the making of “a new Africa.”
“Morocco will work with a determined and tireless mindset to realize our continent’s biggest projects,” the King said, referencing Morocco’s economic and strategic support since the inception of the Blue Funds project in November 2016, in Marrakech.
Further showcasing Morocco’s determination to be an example and a reliable partner, the King oversaw the signing of dozens of bilateral agreements–spanning agriculture, maritime fisheries, rural development, scientific research, education, and tourism–with his Congolese counterpart, President Sassou Nguesso, on the sidelines of the Blue Funds conference.
Regarding climate and biodiversity-related development alone, the Congolese Ministry of Energy and the Moroccan Agency for Sustainable Energy (MASEN) signed many cooperation deals to develop and promote a culture of renewable energy-driven development.
Time for Synergy and Solidarity
“We have a collective responsibility,” the King stated, adding that “shared accountability” and a “sense of sincere engagement” should be the driving light of intra-African collaboration. He also spoke about “Pan-African solidarity” as an essential tool to face up to the numerous challenges (climatic, as well as socio-economic) facing each the continent as a whole. Calling for a common vision, Mohammed VI said, “Challenges must be perceived as priorities, not threats.”
The King’s return to the spotlight as a spokesperson for Africa was welcomed and applauded by a number of observers, with some Congolese outlets hailing him as “a model of sincere engagement,” and others calling him “the King of Africa,” a reference to his commitment to Africa and his belief that “Africa should trust Africans.”
However, decrying previous initiatives that failed to deliver on their promisess–like the Blue Funds–Congolese economist Daniel Koutia called for “more concrete results.” Nonetheless, he seemed more hopeful about the terms of the Blue Funds.
“The perspective of having a tool for the sustainable development of Africa is very good. We must no longer depend on contributions from elsewhere [outside of Africa],” Mr. Koutia told France 24.
A Tale of Continuity
Even prior Morocco’s return to the African Union, an institution the King calls “Morocco’s institutional family,” the North African country never really left Africa’s diplomatic stage. Morocco was already a leading African investor on the continent; as early as 2000, the King was already showing signs of turning Morocco’s diplomacy towards the South in general and Africa, in particular. The monarch conducted several royal visits to most of Africa’s French-speaking countries.
On July 30 2015, the King said in speech that it was time for a total shift towards a diplomacy not only focused on Africa, but also was “more responsible and participative.” This, King Mohammed VI explained, meant that “Morocco should step outside of its comfort zone” by strengthening diplomatic ties with the whole continent, including the southern and eastern parts, known for a pro-Polisario stance (although this has been recently changing).
Other watershed moments, including AU membership followed this bold and daring diplomatic step: working visits to almost every other African country, annulling the debts that fellow African states owed Morocco, and Morocco’s ECOWAS bid, all of which culminated in the establishment of a ministry entirely devoted to African affairs.
In this sense, the recognition and respect that king Mohammed VI received in Brazzaville on April 29, symbolized the acknowledgement of Morocco’s continuous presence and efforts in providing its resources–both human and financial–to the strategic challenges facing Africa.
As the King is expected to start another round of visits to further promote Morocco’s ECOWAS bid soon (specifically in West Africa), it remains to be seen whether his presence will boost an otherwise-sluggish process, brought about by his successful negotiation of Morocco’s entry into the continent’s largest and most promising regional market.
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