“The southern provinces: for a central place in the Eurafrica axis”

By Farida Moha The importance of Fernand Braudel’s long-term analysis and of what historian Marc Bloch called the “deep fabric of history” allows us to understand both the past and the present and the geopolitics. This is the science which makes it possible to study the relationships between the human and material geography of states and their policy. In Morocco, geopolitics has become a tool of foreign policy which leads to geostrategy, which in turn allows overview and an understanding of the socio-economic evolutions and inflections of the country. Before tackling geography, a word about History, history, which has left its lasting political, cultural and commercial mark on Morocco, a History which is stubborn as pointed out by a French historian Bernard Lugan. : “The Kingdom has been for centuries the beating political, religious, economic and commercial heart of the entire Saharan West. We must remember the role played by Sijilmassa, which in direct relation with everyone in West Africa was the economic and cultural metropolis of the Sahara ”. .. We must remember the importance of trade between caravanners from Morocco that took place around the Senegal river basin, exchange and sale of gold, spices, fabrics, cereals, horses, dates, “arabic” gum, sugar. Today Morocco has returned home to Africa. Its historical and geographic past shapes its relations with the continent. The geography of the Kingdom imprints its geopolitics. With an Atlantic facade (2934 kms) and a Mediterranean facade (532 kms) adjoining southern Europe, Morocco enjoys a privileged geographical position in Africa. , in the Maghreb and close to Europe. Two important tools, in this case two ports making it possible to link Europe and the world to Africa: In the North, the Tanger Med port launched in 2007 has established itself in the port and logistics landscape. Today, it is the leading port in Africa and the leading container port in the Mediterranean. It also confirms its position as a major hub for national and international logistics flows as a major transhipment platform for intercontinental and break-up flows to Africa, which represent nearly 40% of the container traffic handled. In the south, the development of the southern provinces gave a new centrality to the Kingdom. The port of Dakhla Atlantique, future regional hub, will in a few years reposition the entire region on maritime routes while ensuring the economic, social and industrial development of the region in all productive sectors (fishing, agriculture, mining, energy, tourism , commerce, manufacturing industry). According to the company MDC INGENIERIE, the port will be equipped with several connectivity structures including a sea access bridge of 1,200 ml, a road connecting the port to the national road 1 of 7 km, as well as an industrial zone and logistics of 1,650 ha. It will focus on the construction of a deep-water port with three elements: a commercial basin (depth of -16 m / hydrographic zero) with 30 ha of embankments and 185 ml of service docks, a basin dedicated to coastal and deep-sea fishing made up of 28.8 ha and 1,662 ml of docks at -12m / zh and a naval repair basin made up of 200 ml of docks at -12m / zh, and 2,018.6 ha of quayside. We are in fact witnessing a rebalancing of the territorial forces of the Kingdom after the impetus given at the beginning of the millennium to the North region. Today the region of Souss Massa since the royal speech of November 6, 2019 is called to be part of a development dynamic driven by a new generation of infrastructure such as the future Marrakech Agadir railway line and the development of the Agadir Dakhla road network and driven by the potential of the region. We are witnessing a reconfiguration of the development geography of our country, more balanced, Agadir being equidistant between Tangier and the southern provinces. The opening up to Africa will be driven by the ZLECAF, the African Continental Free Trade Area which will be one of the largest common markets in the world, bringing together 54 countries with 1.3 billion inhabitants. Since January 1, 2021, the area has created a new geopolitical context by opening up broad horizons, stimulating intra-African trade, trade in goods and services, investments, intellectual property rights and competition policy Dakhla more closer to Dakar than to Casablanca This historical and geographical reality reinforces the historical depth of the relationship between Morocco, Europe and Africa. In this sense, the southern provinces with the rapidly changing Dakhla region represent an essential passage between Morocco and Africa and constitute a gateway to West Africa. It should be remembered that Dakhla is closer from Dakar than from Casablanca. This port spread over 1600 hectares will include an industrial and logistics park called “West Africa Free Zone”, a commercial port, a fishing port and a shipyard. It will also constitute a very good alternative to land traffic. for goods destined for West Africa. In terms of projection for the post-Covid-19 period, air traffic will not be outdone, in particular with the opening of the Paris-Dakhla airline. Let us also remember that Dakhla was chosen to host the second edition of the annual Climate Forum early December 2021 and will bring together experts in climate change and artificial intelligence, public policies, and international cooperation. It is an initiative launched in Mexico with the aim of accelerating the use of artificial intelligence to protect biodiversity in the world and fight against climate change. While awaiting the conclusion of the signing of the Morocco-EU Green Deal, the “Green Deal”, Morocco is giving itself the means of its ambition to become the first country on the African continent to be climate neutral. It aims to make 42% of its renewable energy production in 2020 and increase to 52% in 2030 by investing in particular in solar and wind energy production in the southern provinces. Controlling the Africa-Europe corridor from Tangier to Lagos The environment created by the new economic model of the Southern Provinces gives investors visibility as to the investment opportunities open in the region, thanks to the efforts made in terms of infrastructure strengthening , stabilization of the political situation and improvement of the business climate. With a geostrategic position, modern infrastructures, facilities for granting land, a reservoir of qualified human capital… this region, the object of an ambitious Royal Vision for the Southern Provinces, has all the assets to take off. This is evidenced by the construction of the Tiznit Dakhla road soon to be operational over more than 1015 km which will allow a solid commercial junction between Morocco and Mauritania and beyond towards sub-Saharan Africa and deep Africa and thus restore the fluidity of traffic. by allowing hundreds of vehicles to pass through this route… This route will have cost the trifle of 5 billion dollars. The launch of major projects already completed or nearing completion, such as roads and ports to open up these regions and ensure competitiveness in global logistics flows, the creation of industrial zones and sanitation network, the House of Crafts , centers for women, faculties and learning centers, wind farms, hospitals, the health center, the CHP all participate in the new dynamic … Morocco is giving itself the means of its ambition to fluidify and strengthen the circulation between the south of Morocco and the mainland. This is evidenced by the securing of the Guerguerate crossing point and the projects launched for latest generation distribution and trade areas which will strengthen the economic attractiveness of Oued Eddahab and position it as a hub with Africa. The opening up of the southern provinces has enabled them to be connected to other regions of the Kingdom and to contribute to the new balance of the entire country, supported by significant investments. The fluidity of traffic now ensured at the strategic point of Guerguerate also makes it possible to control the Africa-Europe corridor from Tangier to Lagos and to create new markets. According to a political scientist “the access routes, the North African corridors are among the most competitive due to the proximity of the Atlantic and Mediterranean coast to the two main international markets for goods and services: the United States and Europe. . A combination of land and sea routes offers North Africa a strategic advantage on the condition that peace is preserved in the long term ”. For a Europe-Africa axis Beyond economic considerations, peace, security and economic development are Morocco’s objectives, in an area of ​​conflict and multiple trafficking by terrorist groups. It is by developing Africa that We can prevent conflicts and anticipate the impact of climate change which directly affects West African countries, threatened by drought and desertification. This has a strong impact on migratory flows. More than the community of interests developed with Europe, the latter should for its own interests preserve the insertion of the Sahara in a stable and secure state framework as proposed by the Initiative. autonomy presented by Morocco to the UN Security Council on April 11, 2007, which preserves among other things the rights of the Sahrawis: government, parliament and local resources preserved. half a century, the development of the Maghreb will make it possible to strengthen relations between Europe and Africa, which have weakened over the past decade. Europe has indeed lost half of the market share since the year 2000 to the benefit of “emerging” countries. It has lost its position of quasi-monopoly on the continent, subject of competition between China and the United States. , Russia and India. Competitors have modernized their regulations to do this. Adopted in 2000 and then extended in June 2015 until 2025, the African Growth and Opportunity Act – AGOA constitutes the essential reference for trade relations between the United States and sub-Saharan African countries. It allows exemption from customs duties for almost all products exported by sub-Saharan states. The recognition of the sovereignty of Morocco from the Sahara by the United States opens up new economic perspectives, Morocco having opted for a diversification of its economic relations which nevertheless keeps in mind the essential role of geographical proximity in these times of climate change. China, which ranked 8th among Africa’s partners in 2000 (with 3% of trade), is now ranked first. India moved from 9th place to second ahead of France. China has announced the increase in its aid to unprecedented levels and has decided to support the process of industrialization of certain African economies, within the framework of an approach of co-production and even of relocation of certain activities. This new partnership integrates the logic of the “road and belt” strategy announced by Xi Jinping in 2014. This new “silk road” which passes through Africa to end in the Mediterranean and Europe and crosses Djibouti , Ethiopia, Kenya, to the Suez Canal, in the direction of Egypt, Al Hammadia in Algeria and Tangier in Morocco. A Vertical Africa, Mediterranean, Europe Africa is certainly not the new frontier of the world economy, but on the other hand it offers enormous opportunities through its growth, its resources. asses averages, the rise of its population in rural and urban areas, the immense needs of the populations. The EU and European states should pay more attention to Africa because of its potential in natural resources, the growth of its markets and its geopolitical reclassification, but also because of its potential or real nuisances in terms of vulnerability and insecurity and migratory pressure. Europe suffers and will suffer the “nuisances” coming from Africa if it does not promote the transformation of risks and challenges into opportunities: the demographic explosion as a dividend and not as a time bomb; environmental risks, starting with the effects of global warming following massive deforestation, water stress and desertification. To transform these risks into potentialities, the “Europe Africa” axis, according to a prospective approach, represents the most plausible scenario, of alliances between Europe and Africa, to face the challenges of the multipolar and competitive world. The assets developed by Morocco in favor of vast multidimensional structural reforms are numerous, let us quote the advanced regionalization, the various sectoral plans, the territorial and urban upgrading, the reform of the religious field, the launch of the INDH, building site of the century… These structuring reforms in addition to the geography and the historical depth of the relationship with Europe and Africa, predispose the Kingdom to position itself at the heart of this “Europe-Africa” Axis. To face the challenges of globalization, the Europe-Africa axis, resulting from an alliance between Europe and Africa is one of the scenarios adopted by analysts. According to studies, it is now possible to broaden the framework of Euro-Afro-Mediterranean partnerships and bring them together around a coherent whole, an Africa-Europe Vertical, to use the formula of the think tank IPEMED (Institute for Economic Prospective of the Mediterranean World) where the Mediterranean would be in position of centrality, together which would adhere to a renewed logic of partnership based on co-development and co-production. This vertical will allow the Mediterranean to no longer be a simple place of passage, but to regain part of its centrality lost with globalization. This approach must open up to the renewal of Europe’s partnerships with Afro-Mediterranean areas and go beyond relations linked to exchanges and aid to adhere to a logic of co-production and co-development allowing diversification. productive fabrics in Africa and the Mediterranean, in cooperation with partners such as China or the United States. Cooperation around development problems in Africa must include projects in this direction. Europe must invent a more positive and more proactive partnership with Africa. It is not always about financial resources. It is about vision, overall coherence, commitment and the language of truth. A first step has been taken with the new agenda for the Mediterranean within the framework of its neighborhood policy, which comes six years after the last review of the Euro-Mediterranean partnership. A program indexed on five pillar themes – economic and climate resilience, digital transition or even the migration issue. But there is no doubt that we will have to go further. Europe must indeed understand that a stronger presence of emerging countries, within a framework of balanced partnership, is not necessarily to its detriment. It is done to the advantage of Africa. The Europe-Africa project will be a promising project when Europeans understand that they need Africa as Africans need Europe Morocco for shared economic and strategic interests The Think-tank Policy Center, for example, evokes the ” development of a doctrine, and a unique model based on a synergy of action with other national actors (private, NGOs, foundations, etc.), as well as with foreign private partners, multilateral institutions, financial supported through triangular partnership formulas. By integrating in particular new issues such as human development, crisis prevention and the promotion of partnership instead of assistance and the “conquest” of markets, by seeking the long-term impact on development through integration of the regional dimension. It considers that the issues facing African countries on major issues are also its own issues (human and inclusive development, food security, infrastructure development, migration, etc.). It therefore acts to develop relationships based on shared economic and strategic interests. He also advocates a new dynamic in the Morocco-Africa relationship which involves a revision of the legal and institutional framework of the economic partnership, through deeper integration and more diversified cooperation agreements, in sectors where he has shown his capacities and expertise acquired from its own development strategy: energy, agriculture, industry, infrastructure…. Morocco, through its African policy, its reintegration in 2017 within the AU and its integration in principle into ECOWAS, can play a strategic role of intermediary between Europe and Africa. The country is positioned as an intermediary in the international division of labor. It plays the role of hub as an intermediary for foreign investments, European in particular vis-à-vis African countries. It is well equipped to respond to the logic of the vertical: its status as an advanced Associate in the Euro-Mediterranean area and its openness to sub-Saharan African countries allow it to be among the main relays between the two continents; it integrates both the logic of the vertical and that of the “belt and road” strategy. Its cooperation policies, these Morocco – EU or Morocco – Africa partnerships span more than half a century and must be analyzed over the long term. While they demonstrate a convergence of points of view on issues as important as those of migration, security and climate change, they nonetheless require a necessary revision and adaptation to new geopolitical configurations. his African family, Morocco has initiated an approach based on a win-win partnership and on solidarity, as evidenced by the support given to Africa by the Kingdom during this COVID19 pandemic. But on the EU side, 25 years after the Barcelona agreements and at the time of discussions on a European Development Plan for the Southern Neighborhood, there remains an unanswered fundamental question: when will a real Morocco-EU partnership be established? Who can ensure shared prosperity by recognizing Morocco’s sovereignty over its southern provinces? A position which would give meaning to this Europe-Africa vision and which would change the fate of the entire region? ELECTRIFICATION, DRINKING WATER IN GUERGUERAT WAITING FOR FIBER OPTIC As part of the 46th anniversary of the Green March, Abderrahim El Hafidi, Director General of the National Office for Electricity and Drinking Water (ONEE) launched the work electrification and drinking water supply to the El Guerguerat border post and several large-scale projects in the province of Aousserd. They have a total cost of around 300 million dirhams. Abderrahim El Hafidi, who was accompanied by Abderrahmane El Jaouhari, Governor of Aousserd, and Jabrane Raklaoui, Director General of the Agency for the Promotion and Economic and Social Development of the Provinces of the South of the Kingdom (APDS), launched the electrification work at the El Guerguerat border post via its connection to the electricity network of the Bir Gandouz center. During this visit, the work on the drinking water supply project for the same post, at a cost of 24 million of dirhams, were also launched. They consist of the construction and equipment of a new borehole, a seawater desalination station for a flow rate of 432 m3 / day and the construction of an elevated reservoir with a capacity of 200 m3. Regarding the electricity activity in the province of Aousserd, several partnership agreements have been signed, for a global envelope of 188 million dirhams, under which ONEE will ensure the generalization of electrification in the region. level of the emerging centers of the said province. Another large-scale project, costing 51.25 million dirhams, will be launched in Aousserd. This is the hybridization of the existing diesel power plant by a solar power plant with a storage system. The delegation also inquired about the progress of the sanitation project at the Bir Gandouz center. This project, the cost of which is 60 million dirhams, concerns the construction of a sewerage network with a linear length of 15.5 km, two pumping stations and a natural lagoon-type wastewater treatment plant. with a capacity of 487 m3 / d. Three structuring projects are also being launched at the Bir Gandouz center. The first concerns the connection of the fishing village Lamhiriz to the Bir Gandouz electricity network at a total cost of 40 million dirhams. As for the second, at a total cost of 17.4 million dirhams, it concerns the construction of a 0.4 / 22kV lifting station at the Bir Gandouz power plant. public lighting of this center. A budget of 2.4 million dirhams will be dedicated to it.