Morocco aims at changing Arab image by increasing investments in sub-Sahara Africa

Adam Elhiraika, Giovanie Biha and Lilia Hachem

Morocco is on a mission to embrace its African image by working to shed the image of North African countries as Arab nations and to be known as African countries, and it is doing so by increasing its investment in the south.

“It is high time we changed the Arab image of North African countries,” says Lilia Hachem, the Director of the Economic Commission for Africa, North Africa Region Office. She says Morocco is working to change that notion by pursuing African integration through investments in sub-Saharan Africa.

Ms Hachem was speaking at a press briefing Tuesday March 19, 2019 to kick-start the 52nd session of the Conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development being held in Marrakech, Kingdom of Morocco from March 20 to 26, 2019.

She indicated that Morocco has been investing in banking, infrastructure and the services sector, but will begin investing in agriculture.

The investments, she said have been mostly in West Africa, and the country is now targeting investments in North Africa, as part of the country’s efforts to foster integration and trade in Africa.

Morocco which left but reapplied to rejoin the African Union in 2016 also applied to join the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS.

In her remarks, Giovanie Biha, Deputy Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), said African countries need to trade among themselves, and noted that there are only two countries left to ratify the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement, for the deal to go into effect.

She pointed out that trade will link the SDGS and Agenda 2063.

According to Ms Biha, African countries already trade in high value goods among themselves than they do with other countries outside the continent. She said by increasing value addition and manufacturing, African countries will create more jobs and increase revenue to finance SDGs and social services.

She however pointed out that for Africa to achieve the SDGs the continent ought to attain minimum of seven per cent growth.

Adam Elhiraika, Head of the Macroeconomics Unit of the UNECA noted that Africa suffers from finance deficit.

“African countries have potential to improve resource mobilization to finance development goals. Tax revenues more than doubled from seven per cent 10 years ago,” he said.

He also said Africa has a tax ratio of 15.4 per cent of GDP, which is below the global of above 27 per cent.

Elhiraika added that there has been an increase in investment ratio from 20 per cent to 30 per cent of GDP.

He urged African countries to rely more on their financial resources for development.

The conference is on the theme, “Fiscal policy, trade and the private sector in a digital era: a strategy for Africa.”

By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi, in Marrakech, Morocco

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