With many reports and observers describing Morocco as an “indispensable” actor in African politics, the country is increasingly asserting itself as the go-to continental leader.
Rabat – Participants of a summit on African integration, held on Thursday this week at the headquarters of the African union (AU) in Addis-Ababa, called on Morocco and other continental leaders to shoulder their responsibility in the continent’s push towards development and socio-economic prosperity.
Under the theme of “Economic diplomacy: A Vehicle to Economic Integration in Africa ,” the summit gathered African experts, AU officials, and government representatives from around Africa to discuss the future of African integration in a context of growing economic interconnection between countries.
Morocco, African leader
A major player on many fronts in the continent, Morocco was especially called upon to take up a more active role in furthering intra-African integration in fields as diverse as the banking sector, trade, sustainable agriculture, intra-African diplomacy, and renewable energies, Moroccan state-owned MAP reported.
The report stressed that participants at the meeting spoke at length about Morocco’s largely “successful” South-South diplomacy and how the kingdom’s recent wave of social, economic, and political reforms have made it a “crucial” actor on the continental scene.
While Africa is increasingly attracting the attention of all global players, participants pointed out, most of the continents’ dealings with such external actors have tended to take place in a context and direction that often does not benefit African countries.
One recurring thesis at the meeting was that, as Africa looks to sustain or boost its relations with external partners like the EU, the US, and China, among many others, the continent’s most advanced and experienced countries should lead the way in amplifying Africa’s voice on the world stage.
Participants said this can be done when leading African countries speak on behalf of the continent and share their expertise and experience with other less developed African countries.
Notable achievements, lingering challenges
On the security front, there is a growing consensus in AU quarters that African countries need to invest in “collective efforts” to secure peace and stability on the continent. Even as the continental organization is set to miss its 2013-declared goal of “ending all wars in Africa by 2020,” that aspiration, however lofty-sounding, is still evident in official statements and governments’ commitments.
The AU’s 33rd ordinary session, scheduled for Sunday this week in Addis Ababa, will discuss security and stability as guarantors of socio-economic prosperity.
With themes such “silencing all guns in Africa” or “creating necessary conditions for stability and African integration,”the two-day summit is mostly expected to re-engage with some of the pan-African organization’s usual talking points.
But the enthusiasm of AU officials on the prospects of peace, stability, and continental integration loses credibility when confronted with the complex context of insecurity and instability in many African countries.
With the increasingly fragile political context in Libya and the entire Sahelo-Saharan corridor, many analysts fear that instability could trickle down to other countries in the Gulf of Guinea if the current challenges are not satisfactorily managed.
And while there continues to be celebratory rhetoric around recent achievements like AfCFTA, the lingering feeling is that there is still so much left to do to come close to achieving even the least bold ambitions in the AU’s “the Africa we want” agenda.
At the Thursday meeting, AU Commission Chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat conceded that the pan-African body has not been particularly effective in achieving its goals, especially the “silencing all guns” mantra that greeted the 50th anniversary of the organization seven years ago.
Mahamat argued, however, that AU’s failure in most cases was not because of a lack of political will. He suggested that there have been genuine attempts and efforts by African governments, but the “complexity” of the crises many of them face usually go beyond initial assessments and hopes. “The missed deadline to silence the guns reveals the complexity of the security situation in Africa,” he said.
Meanwhile, with crises set to escalate and challenges expected to multiply in a number of areas, some have called for “pan-African solidarity,” urging the continent’s leaders in security and socio-economic development to share their “successful experiences” with the rest of the continent.
With its lauded performance in the banking sector, agriculture, security, and energy, Morocco has become an established member of Africa’s “big five,” making it part of the kingdom’s “historical African responsibility” to share its its development experience with “fellow African countries,” MAP said of the conclusions of AU’s Thursday meeting. The report recalled that Morocco is the first African investor in West Africa and the second in the entire continent.
Such reports come as most observers rank Morocco among an “indispensable” political and diplomatic bellwether in Africa, with one recent report suggesting that Morocco is now a trend-setter and an essential actor in the new direction Africa seems to have taken in the recent decade.
Morocco, meanwhile, has warmed up to the story. The kingdom has embraced the laudatory narrative, constantly flexing its “African leader” muscles and reiterating its “pan-African commitment” at various AU and international events.
Most Recently, the Moroccan delegation at the UK-Africa summit notably presented Morocco as a “central” and “important” player on the African political scene.
During the London meeting, Moroccan FM Nasser Bourita described Morocco as a “historical… gateway to Africa,” adding: “Morocco is an indispensable player in Africa’s investments market