SOUTH-SOUTH SYMBIOSIS

Zambia 2017 | DIPLOMACY | G2G

Morocco is heavily invested—politically, economically, culturally, and socially—in ensuring that Zambia remains a critical piece of the African puzzle going forward.

Mohammed Boussaid
MOHAMMED BOUSSAID
Minister of Economy and Finance
Kingdom of Morocco
Salaheddine Mezouar
SALAHEDDINE MEZOUAR
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation
Kingdom of Morocco

How is Morocco strengthening its relations with Zambia?

Mohammed Boussaid The recent visit was the first official visit of His Majesty King Mohamed VI to Zambia. We are currently reinforcing our diplomatic relationship with Zambia, in line with our new approach of forging ties at both an economic and social level. The Zambian economy boasts huge potential for growth. The country's geography means investment in Zambia is also an investment in the eight countries that border it. Zambia is part of SADC and COMESA, which means it is well integrated into a network of cooperating states, all working together for a common goal. This is another asset for investors. What is more, there are many parallels that can be drawn between Morocco and Zambia, and, therefore, the relationship can also become an important one of knowledge sharing. The three priorities for Zambia's economy are also Morocco's priorities: agriculture, tourism, and energy. In these areas, Morocco has experience and expertise. As such, on this visit we have signed 19 agreements with the Zambian government, most of which are with the private sector, in all areas, from human development projects to renewable energy.

Salaheddine Mezouar There were six or seven agreements consolidating the legal relationship between the two countries, as well as agreements from private-to-private sectors and public-to-private. These were in a number of fields. For example, we know that the potential for agricultural development in Africa is tremendous. Morocco has a rich and successful history in agricultural development, and our neighbors acknowledge this and ask us to bring this experience to the table. We want to help structure the development of agriculture, contributing to the know-how, investment, and investment planning in agro-business. Regarding the issue of minerals, the African continent, and in particular Zambia, boasts significant resources. When we consider that currently 70% of the Zambian economy depends on such exports, it is obvious that structuring the industry effectively can be key to creating wealth and employment. However, at the moment, there is extraction and export but no transformation, and if there is no transformation, no value-addition to raw products, then there is a minimum cap on the amount of wealth and in-country employment that can be created. This was the motivation behind the signing of the memorandum of understanding between the Zambian Ministry of Mines and Morocco's office for hydrocarbons and mining (ONHYM).

What are you doing to encourage further integration across the continent?

MB In Morocco, we believe strongly in South-South cooperation. We also believe that through regional integration, we can cooperate with each other to solve many problems ourselves. We can share public policies and experiences. That is why, in the last 15 years, His Majesty has made around 45 visits to 26 different countries. In this time, His Majesty has put Africa on the top of the list of priorities for foreign relations, because of this strong conviction that the continent, which has for many years had negative connotations, can represent hope for humanity and the world. It is a dynamic continent, with many social and economic transformations taking place over the last decade. The growth rate on average has been at about 5%, many countries have stable governments, and democracy is widespread. All of these developments shed a positive light on the continent, in turn unveiling new opportunities to invest and collaborate. This is leading to mass job creation and sustained development.

SM Returning to the African Union after more than 30 years away is like a return to our institutional family. Morocco has always been involved in Africa. After South Africa, Morocco is the second-largest African investor on the continent. In 2020, we have ambitions to become the first not only in terms of economic development, but also in terms of human development and culture. Morocco also fully supports the process of spreading peace across the continent. Many parts of Africa face challenges of fighting extremism and to do so it is crucial to boost cooperation among nations. His Majesty Mohammed VI has a vision for Africa. Africa is a continent with great potential, a continent of the future, but one grappling with many obstacles. Thus, the continent has two alternatives: become a problematic continent for the rest of the world in terms of democracy and political stability, or become a driving force—as one of the landmasses with a rapidly growing population—behind ensuring global peace and security. Morocco entered the African Union with this vision in mind. We want to share with our neighbors all that we have acquired in terms of experience, know-how, and capacity, to add value to the continent. There is a new generation of Africans, with potential, ideas, and innovation. The problem is organization, cooperation, and learning to work together. The visit to Zambia was part of Morocco's commitment to strengthening our ties with all African countries.