It’s been a couple of years now since the North African state, the Kingdom of Morocco, applied for membership to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), but the regional bloc is yet to be clear on what the fate of Rabat would be.
However, the Director General of the Morocco Agency for International Cooperation (AMCI) has expressed optimism that his country becoming a member of ECOWAS will happen naturally and honestly.
Ambassador Mohamed Methqal told reporters from different African media institutions who covered the recent 2019 African Students and Youth Summit in Rabat that Morocco has expressed the desire to join the West African bloc through the long-standing relations that it has with all the countries of the ECOWAS region.
In October 2018, government spokesman Mustapha El Khalfi told the Liberia News Agency (LINA) that Morocco’s decision to seek to join ECOWAS reflects the vision of H.M. King Mohammed VI to build a strong South-South partnership and bring efforts together that will resolve the challenges confronting the region.
“So, it is a project that is still going on and the vision behind it is to develop a strong platform for south-south partnership to enhance our capacities to deal with the economic and social challenges of the 21st Century,” Khalfi had said.
Also, in the spirit of South-South cooperation, Amb. Methqual said that just at the level of youth and human development, Rabat has “important love” for students from West African states.
To this end, he added, “twenty seven per cent of students coming here (Morocco) are from ECOWAS countries, and it’s not new: it started since our independence. If we speak about trade, it means that trade with many ECOWAS countries has centuries of history, such as with Mali, Burkina Faso, Chad, and Niger, among others.”
“The arguments are natural that Morocco presented its candidature to the decision of the Summit to conduct a study on our desire to join ECOWAS – there’s a committee of Heads of State constituted for that, and the process is ongoing,” Methqal further stated.
“We’re comfortable with that, and we’ll respect their decision. We believe one day it will happen naturally, passing the political decision because we believe when you have a conviction and everybody is involved, one day it’d happen.”
Over the years Morocco has increased its cooperation with many countries, mostly of West Africa, in the area of human capacity development. Of the 14,000 international students currently enrolled through the Kingdom’s cooperation, 12,000 are from 47 African countries statistics show.
In 2017, Morocco made a comeback into the African Union, and has been involved, even when it was out, at different institutional and political levels as one of the top tier contributors to the AU budget, according to Amb. Methqal.
“We integrated the Peace and Security Council in September and we’re very much involved in peace and security issues; we’re contributing to the African agenda.
“The Kingdom of Morocco did not want to come back to the AU before contributing to it. We continued to work with the AU at the UN development table as reflected in our education development efforts in many African countries – 37 countries since we left the AU. Now, since we got back we contribute more and more because we are in the organization,” the AMCI director general told journalists.
In the meantime, he said that his country is committed to “defend at all times” efforts leading to the integration of the West African region and, by extension, the whole of the Continent – including involvement in the Free Trade Agreement Zone because “we really believe that it should be accelerated and it will accelerate an emerging Africa and better the economies of the different member countries.”
The Free Trade Agreement is expected to facilitate connectivity such as airline and rail connections, opening of markets, creating more competition and providing Africans the opportunity to gain more through pricing competitions. There would be more visible exchange of trade between countries without many bottlenecks.