Despite doubts raised regarding the timely completion of the project, Morocco and Nigeria promise to not only deliver on schedule, but also to bolster intra-African cooperation.
Rabat – Amid lingering concerns over social and political hurdles that may delay the delivery of the much-publicized Nigeria-Morocco pipeline project, the two African countries have promised to deliver the project on schedule.
According to Nigeria’s The Sun newspaper, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and its Moroccan counterpart have announced that they will deliver the pipeline in “record time,” as planned. The two countries hope to tighten bilateral cooperation while boosting prosperity and security at the regional level, the newspaper noted.
The news comes after Mallam Mele K. Kyari, NNPC’s managing director, met on Tuesday, July 23, with Moha Ou Ali Tagma, Morocco’s ambassador to Nigeria.
In comments after the meeting, Kyari asserted that discussions revolved around finding a way to accelerate delivery and cement energy cooperation among the countries which will benefit from the much-awaited pipeline project.
The project, which is set to involve fifteen countries in West Africa, a region where Morocco is notably assertive, is the result of the heightened rapprochement of Morocco-Nigeria relations. The two countries have grown closer in the last three years under the guidance of King Mohammed VI and President Muhammadu Buhari.
King Mohammed visited the West African country in December 2016, laying the groundwork for the two countries’ joint commitment to bolstering their cooperation.
In June of last year, President Buhari visited Morocco to finalize the signing of the first phase of what some observers have since labeled the “trans-African” pipeline project. In addition, the two leaders signed agreements on agricultural cooperation, expertise sharing, and vocational training.
In his remarks on Tuesday, Kyari noted that work for completing the gas pipeline is on track and delivery will respect the spirit of the memorandum of understanding (MoU) the two governments recently signed.
“We are completely aligned with the MoU signed by our two governments. We will take it forward and ensure that those terms that are particularly related to oil and gas industry are delivered in record time,” he explained.
The Nigerian official went on to highlight the pipeline project’s significance for economic prosperity and socio-political stability in Africa. “This is very important towards job creation, economic prosperity and ultimately, the achievement of overall peace and stability across the entire African continent.”
While the project rekindled among African policy circles, doubts have been raised regarding the timely completion of the whole project.
“High exposure to political risks” is likely to negatively impact the Nigeria-Morocco pipeline project, Fitch Solutions warned earlier this year. The analysis added that “considerable commercial, technical, legal and financial challenges” will make the project “unlikely to materialize in the short or medium-term.”
For Kyari, however, after a recent feasibility study stressed the project’s promising prospects, there is little reason to doubt that it will not be delivered as planned. He said, “I am optimistic that our bilateral cooperation around the gas pipeline with Morocco will boost the economies of all countries across the West African states and up to Morocco.”
Also crucial in the two countries’ insistence on completing the much-anticipated project is the strong feeling that projects such the Nigeria-Morocco gas pipeline are a fundamental part of what is needed to pave the way for realizing the pan-Africanist aspirations pervading most discussions across the African continent.
In line with that pan-Africanist wish, Ambassador Tagma described Morocco and Nigeria as “two important African countries” which need to step up to drive Africa’s march forward. The gas pipeline is a key step in the right direction, he asserted, elaborating that Nigeria and Morocco can do much more for continental agendas while working together.
Taking a similar tack earlier this month while on a visit to Morocco, former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo spoke of Morocco as a pivotal African country which needs to shoulder its regional leadership responsibility to help the continent realize its longing for food security and socio-economic stability.