Sahel Countries subscribe to Royal Initiative for Atlantic Ocean Access

Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, and Chad have welcomed the international initiative announced by King Mohammed VI to enable these African landlocked countries have access to the Atlantic Ocean, a goal that requires investments in infrastructure and a co-development approach but that will transform the economies of these countries and the entire region.

The four landlocked countries expressed, at a coordination meeting, hosted by Morocco’s foreign minister Nasser Bourita in Marrakech Saturday, their gratitude to Morocco’s King for such an initiative that meets the aspirations of these countries to economic and social development, key to fostering stability in the wider Sahel.

In a speech in November, the King called for helping Sahel countries access the Atlantic, noting that this “hinges on upgrading infrastructure in the Sahel countries and seeking to connect it to transport and communication networks existing in the region.”

He promised that Morocco will not spare effort to help sisterly Sahel states, including by offering access to its own infrastructure, roads and ports.

“To mercantile trade, the Sovereign prefers investment that truly creates common and lasting wealth. To anesthetic assistance, the Sovereign prefers structuring and “win-win” projects; and to the relentless security approach, the Sovereign relies on the inconspicuous power of the formation of minds”, foreign minister Bourita told his Sahel peers in Marrakech.

The supportive stand to the royal initiative was voiced by the Foreign Ministers of Burkina Faso Karamoko Jean-Marie Traoré, of Chad Mahamat Saleh Annadif, of Mali Abdullah Diop, and of Niger Kalla Yawo Sangaré following their first coordination meeting held at the invitation of Morocco’s Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita.

In a joint statement, the ministers thanked King Mohammed VI for this initiative, saying it shows the Monarch’s active solidarity with brotherly African countries in general and the Sahel in particular. This strategic project will also help speed up regional connectivity and enhance trading for shared prosperity in the Sahel region.

The ministers commended the inclusive and participatory approach in carrying out this initiative, affirming their common ambition to consolidate cooperation ties through joint multi-sectoral and innovative partnerships, reflecting the values of South-South cooperation and co-development.

They agreed to set up a National Task Force in each country to prepare and propose a roadmap for the implementation of this landmark project.

The ministers also agreed to finalize as quickly as possible the proposals to be submitted to King Mohammed VI and Heads of State of the four Sahel countries.

In his opening address at the Ministerial Coordination Meeting on the royal initiative for Sahel countries access to Atlantic Ocean, Bourita said the move will help these African countries unlock their enormous potential, accelerate the growth and sustainable and inclusive development of the region’s economies.

King Mohammed VI has always valued and promoted cooperation ties with Sahel countries, said the Minister, affirming that Rabat will bring in all its energy, mobilize all its efforts, and share all its know-how.

For his part, Niger’s Foreign Minister Yaou Sangaré described Morocco as “a reliable partner which respects our dignity, our sovereignty and our independence”, saying the royal initiative, which “once again reflects the great vision of King Mohammed VI for Pan-Africanism,” will give a new impetus to the development of the Sahel region.

“We hope that this Royal Initiative will offer real opportunities for the exploitation, transformation and commercialization of our resources, and for the acceleration of regional connectivity and trade flows for the shared prosperity of Morocco and Sahel countries,” he said.

The initiative is meant to help the Sahel be “no longer a zone of instability but rather a zone of prosperity,” he said, adding that Morocco is a “true friend of Niger, a friend of all times.”

Mali’s top diplomat Abdoulaye Diop said his country backs the Atlantic Initiative announced by King Mohammed VI for Sahel States, and lauded the Kingdom’s solidarity with brotherly African countries.

Diop stated “The initiative announced by the King on November 6th on the 48th anniversary of the Green March has captured the attention of the Malian government, which sees it as a manifestation of solidarity and effective brotherhood of the Kingdom of Morocco towards the sisterly African countries.”

He added that the Malian authorities “appreciate this fraternal and solidarity initiative, considering it as a commitment from the Kingdom of Morocco to integrate its actions beyond bilateral cooperation, within a broad framework aimed at addressing common aspirations, while responding to the needs of the authorities and peoples of the Sahel region.”

Mali’s top diplomat pointed out further that “choosing to celebrate the anniversary of the Green March, which holds special importance for the Kingdom of Morocco, to launch this initiative reflects the interest that Morocco grants to the development of Sahel countries by breaking their isolation.”

“Granting water means granting life, and Morocco has chosen to grant the sea to non-coastal countries. As for the country of Mali, which extends over an extensive area exceeding one million and 200 thousand square kilometers, surrounded by seven neighboring countries, this initiative represents an opportunity in many aspects.”

He explained that, first and foremost, the Royal Initiative breaks the isolation of the concerned countries, which “will enable dynamic exchanges between African countries or with the rest of the world, impact our economies, especially by providing opportunities to market our products, and participate more effectively in global trade, thus improving the trade balance for our countries.”

Burkina Faso’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Karamoko Jean Marie Traoré said the royal initiative will transform Sahel economies and promote their integration into global economy.

“Beyond the expression of an active solidarity, this initiative is a call to recognize the rights and values of landlocked countries in the global economy,” Karamoko Jean-Marie Traoré said.

Burkina Faso welcomes any initiative aimed at transforming its continentality into an asset, because it is clear that our countries have remained impoverished for a long time due to inappropriate policies,” he said.

He urged neighboring Sahel countries to spare no effort to materialize this “large-scale project” on the ground.

Chad’s FM Mahamat Saleh Annadif said Morocco is a “strategic and reliable” partner of all African countries, paying tribute to the leadership of King Mohammed VI. He thanked the Sovereign for this important initiative, noting that security and development are inseparable.

In this regard, he welcomed this Royal Initiative aimed at promoting access of Sahel countries to the Atlantic Ocean, noting that Chad’s regional economic integration project goes hand in hand with the vision of the King for this region.

Chad’s ambassador to Rabat Hassan Adoum Bakhit Haggar has highlighted, on the sideline of the event, the role of Dakhla port under construction.

This future port “will be the pride of Africa and all those who will benefit” from this port infrastructure, the Chadian diplomat stressed, expressing his thanks to King Mohammed VI for this Royal Initiative aimed at enhancing the access of Sahel countries to the Atlantic Ocean which “really gives hope” to the region’s countries.

The Sovereign’s Initiative is key “for the survival of our landlocked countries”, Bakhit Haggar underlined, adding that Morocco has always stood alongside African countries.