King Mohammed VI has called for an international initiative to enable the Sahel countries to have access to the Atlantic Ocean, stressing that the success of such an initiative hinges on upgrading infrastructure in the Sahel countries and seeking to connect it to transport and communication networks existing in the region.
In a speech he made Monday on the 48th anniversary of the Green March, the King said Morocco is willing to put its road, port and rail infrastructure at the disposal of these African countries as the move is expected to bring about a fundamental transformation not only in the economies of these countries, but also in the entire region.
“Just as the Mediterranean links Morocco to Europe, the Atlantic coast is our gateway to Africa and the Americas”, said the Monarch unveiling plan to rehabilitate the country’s national coastline, including the part in the Moroccan Sahara region bordering the Atlantic, and re-engineer this geopolitical space at the African level.
“My goal is to transform the Atlantic region into a space for human interaction and economic integration, and to make sure it plays a key role at continental and international levels,” said the King, stressing the importance that the major projects launched in southern provinces are completed, and that the services and infrastructure relating to human and economic development are in place.
Morocco seeks to facilitate connectivity between the different countries bordering the Atlantic, provide for means of transportation, build logistics platforms and consider the development of a strong, competitive national commercial marine fleet, affirmed the Monarch.
To keep pace with the economic progress and urban expansion witnessed in Moroccan Saharan cities, “we need to pursue our efforts to develop a maritime economy that contributes to prosperity in the region and serves its inhabitants”, said the King.
This region should be an integrated economy based on the development of exploration for offshore natural resources and the promotion of investment in marine fishing, in addition to seawater desalination to encourage agricultural activities, promote the blue economy and support the renewable energy agenda, underlined the Monarch.
He also called for the adoption of a strategy for the promotion of tourism in the Atlantic region, making good use of the many assets available there to turn it into a prime destination for beach and Saharan tourism.
Morocco, which is a stable and credible country, is aware of the stakes and challenges for African countries in general, and those bordering the Atlantic in particular, said the Monarch, noting that the African Atlantic countries suffer from a significant deficit in infrastructure and investment, despite skilled human capital and abundant natural resources.
Morocco has been working with Atlantic African nations and with partners to come up with practical and effective answers to this situation within the framework of international cooperation, explained the King, citing in this regard the Morocco-Nigeria gas pipeline strategic project designed to promote regional integration, boost joint economic growth and serve development objectives in the countries bordering the Atlantic. It will also guarantee energy supplies for European countries.
For this reason, Morocco launched an initiative for the creation of an institutional framework that brings together the twenty-three African countries bordering the Atlantic. The aim is to promote security, stability and shared prosperity.
The problems and difficulties facing African sister countries in the Sahel region will not be solved by security and military measures alone, but rather by an approach based on cooperation and shared development, underlined the Monarch.
Regarding the Sahara issue, the King said many countries have recognized that the Sahara is Moroccan, and many other influential nations have said that the Autonomy Initiative is the only solution for the settlement of this artificial regional dispute.
The values of solidarity, cooperation, and openness, which characterize Morocco, have also contributed to strengthening the Kingdom’s role as well its status as a key player and as a reliable, credible economic and political partner at the regional and international levels, particularly with Arab and African sister nations, said the King.