Morocco positions itself as gateway for African outreach

A view shows Morocco's northern town of Al-Hoceima
A view shows Morocco's northern town of Al-Hoceima. Reuters

As more than 1,000 delegates from over 100 countries, including several from the African continent, discussed crucial issues ranging from maritime to food security and energy in this city in the Moroccan Sahara, the underlying factor was Morocco's emergence as a gateway for the world to look at investments and projects in Africa.

Leaders, officials, investors and others participated in the Crans Montana Forum (CMF) here in the past week to discuss the scope that African nations offer and the need to make efforts to ensure that development reaches some of the remotest corners of one of the least developed continents.

CMF president Pierre-Emmanuel Quirin highlighted the role being played by Morocco to provide a platform to the world to reach out to African nations.

"We offer a free platform to be able to create this exchange of experiences on themes such as agriculture, fishing potential, renewable energies and responsible eco-tourism. I think that somehow the city of Dakhla -- at least for a few days -- has become the capital of the continent," Quirin said, adding that the CMF was "happy to find the big African family in Morocco" to discuss issues related to the continent's development.

At Dakhla and on-board the Italian cruise ship 'Rhapsody', delegates debated economic, social and environmental development concerning Africa. The themes discussed included the role of youth, women's empowerment, food security, sustainable agriculture, public health and renewable energy.

Nearly 50 African countries participated in the forum this time, highlighting the growing importance of issues related to Africa and the CMF providing a platform to discuss solutions.

Moroccan Prime Minister Saadeddine El Othmani was the first head of the government to participate in the CMF, which is annually being held in this city since 2015.

"There is a new African awakening leading to relations between African countries in several areas, be it at the level of economic cooperation, cultural cooperation, and trade; we must increase cooperation at all levels between African countries. Unfortunately, trade and investment exchanges in Africa are still very weak," Othmani told EuroNews TV channel.

With poverty, lack of infrastructure, health and malnutrition, women's issues, food security and other problems that grip most of the African nations, delegates at the CMF discussed ways and means to overcome these with global participation.

"Africa can become the leader of the world if its resources are used carefully. The continent and its people have vast potential," Souleymane Fall, special advisor to Senegalese President Macky Sall, told IANS during the conference.

The conference this time laid special emphasis on youth and women's empowerment. Youth leaders from various countries debated issues and were honored at the event.

"It is good to see that the role of the youth is being recognized in a big way by the Forum. The youth hold the key to the future," Manasvi Atrey, an entrepreneur from India, told IANS.