By Hassan Benmehdi in Casablanca for Magharebia – 27/02/2014
Despite the security challenges that still exist in the Sahel-Sahara region, Morocco is working to strengthen its partnership with other African nations.
King Mohammed VI began a regional tour to Mali, Cote d'Ivoire, Guinea and Gabon on February 18th.
Analysts say this new royal tour in Africa symbolises Morocco's strategic decision to work with sub-Saharan states.
Improving the South-South partnership can boost regional security and improve African economies, Casablanca journalist Mehdi Benchakiri noted.
There is an "urgent need to consider solutions that can help to lay the foundations for sustainable growth in African countries", he told Magharebia.
Abdelali Maghali, a geostrategic expert, agreed that it was important "for a country such as Morocco to develop its partnerships with sub-Saharan Africa to deal with the challenges of stability and economic growth".
The Moroccan monarch began his tour in Mali, where he met with President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita. The visit reportedly aimed at showing Morocco's support to the country's peace process. He then headed to Cote d'Ivoire on February 23rd, together with a large delegation of businessmen.
During this leg of the tour, the two countries signed twenty-six partnership agreements in education, training, agriculture, tourism, trade, ICT and other sectors.
The countries also launched housing projects in Abidjan, which will involve the construction of over 8,000 affordable homes.
The pledges made during the meetings aim to help reduce poverty and create wealth and jobs, especially for young people.
Morocco reaffirmed its willingness to help implement the Plan for the Sustainable Recovery of Mali (PRED), which was supported by the international community at a Brussels conference last May.
With regard to counter-terrorism in the Sahel-Sahara region, the two heads of state underlined the need for close and regular cooperation.
According to Abderrahim Kadmiri, who heads the Moroccan Agency for International Co-operation (AMCI), co-operation between Morocco and sub-Saharan Africa dates back centuries.
But it is crucial today, he told MAP on February 23rd, because security concerns are growing in the region.