Morocco and the African Union (AU) inaugurated today, December 18, the African Migration Observatory in Rabat.
Morocco’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nasser Bourita, co-chaired the opening ceremony with the AU Commissioner for Social Affairs, Amira El Fadil.
The African Migration Observatory is located in the Hay Ryad business district in Rabat. It will mainly serve to collect and analyze data about migrants and migration routes.
The AU institution plans to generate better knowledge of migration to help create harmonized and efficient migration policies.
Bourita explained that the African Migration Observatory will have three main functions: Understanding, anticipation, and recommendation.
“It will be an advocacy and decision-making support tool, a platform for dialogue between African experts and stakeholders, and an African capacity building instrument,” he said.
The African Migration Observatory’s first projects will be the creation of the first African migratory database and an African portal on migration data.
“The first step that we are taking today is only the beginning of constructive synergies, solid knowledge, and concrete progress,” Bourita concluded.
The AU commissioner for social affairs, meanwhile, welcomed the inauguration of the institution by recalling that it is the first migration observatory in Africa.
“Today is indeed a historic and momentous occasion in Africa. Historic in that the African Migration Observatory becomes the first-ever such continental institution in Africa, and momentous in that it marks the beginning of our efforts towards generating data that is balanced and relevant to the needs of Africa in the field of migration,” El Fadil said.
The AU official said the observatory will focus on two main axes: Intra-continental migration and intercontinental migration.
“The bulk of migration in Africa is intra-continental, and there is evidence to support the notion that well-managed migration can benefit the socio-economic development of nations — both migrant-sending and receiving countries,” El Fadil said.
“It is also imperative that as Africans engage with other regions on issues of migration, they do so from a position of knowledge, fact, and evidence. And the observatory will provide the continent with that,” she continued.
First suggested in 2018, the African Migration Observatory falls within King Mohammed VI’s roadmap to tackling challenges related to migration issues.
Earlier this year, during the 33rd AU Summit, Head of Government Saad Eddine El Othmani presented a final report about the observatory, and AU member states adopted a statute establishing the institution.
The inauguration of the African Migration Observatory in the Moroccan capital further strengthens Morocco’s role as a center for discussion on migration issues. But Morocco also owes its status of continental leader on migration to its location and recent policy reforms.
As the closest African country to Europe, Morocco has traditionally served as a gateway for African migrants to reach the “Old Continent.”
In recent years, however, thanks to a series of updated policies facilitating the integration of migrants into the Moroccan society, the country became a migration destination as well.
For many experts, Morocco’s double role in relation to migratory flows makes it an adequate location to study migration issues and brainstorm solutions.
Several officials from the EU and UN bodies attended the inauguration ceremony, including EU Ambassador to Morocco Claudia Wiedey.
Wiedey’s attendance confirms that the EU considers Morocco as a major partner on migration issues.
Earlier this month, EU Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson said during a visit to Rabat that the EU enjoys a “privileged partnership” with Morocco.
Johansson spoke glowingly about the Morocco-EU cooperation in the fields of security and migration, describing the kingdom as a “very reliable” partner.