Morocco’s pivot towards Africa

Morocco’s pivot towards Africa
Kieran Baker

The 2022 football World Cup in Qatar was one of a kind; firstly, because it was being hosted by an Arab country and secondly, it was the first time an African nation made it to the semi-finals. Morocco’s achievement in reaching the last four in the world’s most influential sporting competition cannot be underestimated – nor can the symbolism be ignored. People in Qatar and across the world were supporting Morocco as African as well as Arab, and it’s this unique mix that has positioned Morocco as a gateway to Africa in a similar way to how South Africa was once perceived. The symbolism doesn’t end there- Morocco is only the second African country to become a host of the World Cup – alongside Spain and Portugal in 2030 - twenty years after South Africa became the first Africa nation to host the competition. My point is Morocco is as influential now as South Africa once was.  

So, what’s changed in the last few decades? In 2017, after an absence of 33 years, Morocco rejoined the African Union (AU). Morocco has recognized the need for new markets and positioned itself to benefit from the economic and demographic growth expected in Sub-Saharan Africa in the coming years, expanding investment and business operations in the region.  

Between 2003 and 2017, Morocco invested over $9 and half billion in Africa, making up around 60% of the country’s overseas investment and making it the leading African investor in West Africa, second only to South Africa as the largest African investor across the continent. 

What is critical to this pivot is Morocco’s African policy and the leading role of its business sector. Large technological companies such as Maroc Telecom, the three largest banks -Attijariwafa Bank (AwB), Banque Populaire (BP) and Banque Marocaine du Commerce Extérieur (BMCE)-, and also many small and medium enterprises have all consistently increased their presence in Africa’s markets. 

Morocco is also leading the way regarding security and counter terrorism issues- working particularly closely with the U.S. The relationship between the U.S. and Morocco has grown significantly in the last few years with Morocco now the largest purchaser of U.S. military equipment in Africa. Morocco is also among the top ten contributors to UN peacekeeping operations worldwide.  It currently deploys 1,718 peacekeepers in the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan, and South Sudan.  

Morocco is looking to Africa in multiple ways – so it is no surprise that the rise of Morocco across the continent has taken on new meaning in these last 20 years. 


*Kieran Baker is an Emmy award winning journalist who has started up various networks including Al Jazeera English, Bloomberg TV Africa and TRT World. 

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