Buoyed by the retreat of Western banks, Moroccan financial institutions are leading a high-benefit venture in sub-Saharan Africa.
Rabat – King Mohammed VI’s effective combination of diplomacy, friendship, and business is spearheading a brand new post-colonial order in Africa, according to an opinion article by Jon Marks published today in the Financial Times.
According to Marks, one reason for “Morocco’s unexpected pivot towards its own continent” is the “diminished confidence” of African countries in their “traditional [Western] partners.”
At the center of Morocco’s “Africa turn,” lies the North African country’s so far well-selling South-South agenda and King Mohammed VI’s perceived genuine commitment to a continent he has called “Morocco’s institutional family.”
“Morocco Inc,” as Marks dubbed Moroccan banks’ success story in the rest of the continent, reposes essentially on coupling sound diplomacy with win-win investment ventures.
While “big questions remain” and “cynics” continue to doubt what Morocco will reap in the long-term from its Africa turn, Rabat is bound to be an integral player in the big games to come. For Marks, the “trend cannot be ignored if one is to understand contemporary Africa.”
From OCP Africa’s agricultural activism, to the financial might of the “big three” (Attirajawafa Bank, BMCE Bank, and Banque Centrale Populaire) and the Nigeria-Morocco pipeline project, Rabat has extended its outreach to “previously unfamiliar markets” like Nigeria, Ethiopia, and Egypt.
That means that Morocco’s now two-year-old return to the African Union has so far yielded positive results. And in addition to its financial presence on the continent, Morocco also enjoys close historical and cultural ties with many countries involved, improving Morocco’s prospects despite projected setbacks.
But Morocco-Africa has not been an immaculate experience. For all the plaudits that Moroccan diplomacy has collected in recent months and weeks, there remain some grey zones in Morocco’s diplomatic outreach.
The article explained, “The Ecowas application has stalled. The pitfalls of building up sub-Saharan exposure by banks and big companies are discussed privately but played down publicly. Morocco is having to live with the SADR’S AU membership, which may complicate diplomatic ties with some countries.”
Overall, though, the piece suggests there is more to come from Morocco’s South-South policy as new dynamics are set to emerge in African affairs.
“While Morocco’s new African strategy has been most evident in commercial deals, it also points towards the emergence of a genuinely post-colonial African order,” Marks concluded.