Morocco in Ghana, Regional Integration and Sustainable Prosperity / Interview
Imane Ouaadil: "I am confident that the ongoing dynamic between Morocco and Ghana will bring our two countries to work together and explore new and untapped opportunities for the sake of our peoples’ prosperity and well being."
In her interview with MoroccoTelegraph news outlet, Ambassador of Morocco to Ghana, Imane Ouaadil, expressed her views concerning bilateral relations between Morocco and Ghana and the work being done to promote such deeply-rooted ties.
As the Ambassador of Morocco to Ghana, tell us more about the bilateral relations between the two countries and the role of the Embassy in promoting them?
Ghana and Morocco have come a long way since 1961 when Ghana’s first President Osagyefo Kwame Nkrumah and Morocco’s King Mohammed V played a crucial role in the creation of the Organization of African Unity now the African Union and the emancipation of Africa.
Today, both countries are equally committed to good neighborliness, regional economic integration, and the maintenance of peace and security in the continent. Ghana and Morocco have enjoyed mutually-beneficial political and trading relations since independence. Besides, Ghana remains one of the kingdom’s top three trade partners within the ECOWAS bloc.
Regarding our bilateral cooperation, significant progress has been made in the last few years. The official visit of His Majesty King Mohammed VI may God Assist Him, in February 2017 gave fresh impetus to our bilateral ties. The implementation of all the 25 agreements signed during the said visit will, certainly, further contribute to the reinforcement of our partnership.
The Moroccan private sector is present in Ghana through key sectors like: agriculture, renewable energy, building materials, banking, and insurance. More Moroccan companies are showing great interest in Ghana and the Embassy is ready and very keen on assisting the Moroccan companies interested in investing in Ghana. The Embassy also encourages Ghanaian businesses to explore economic partnerships and investment opportunities in Morocco.
Promoting education, socio- cultural understanding between our two peoples is also an interesting aim the Embassy is pursuing. Under the leadership of His Majesty King Mohammed VI, Morocco has attached great importance to educational cooperation with Ghana, and that has become a very important segment of our relations. During the academic year 2019- 2020 around eighty Ghanaian students enrolled in Moroccan universities and specialized high education institutes. For the academic year 2020-2021 Morocco maintained its 90 scholarships offer to Ghanaian students despite the coronavirus pandemic. 20 of these scholarships are strictly dedicated to vocational training.
On the cultural level, an interesting exchange takes place between Morocco and Ghana. A Ghanaian-born musician artist Reuben YemohOdoi has settled in Morocco. Mr. Odoi has made a name for himself in Casablanca by fusing Moroccan, Ghanaian, and contemporary hiplife and Afrobeat music into an instrument-forward style of music.
In Casablanca there is an amazing mural designed by the immensely talented Ghanaian artist Mohammed Awudu during the Casamouja Festival 2019 in Morocco. The President of Visa for Music, Mr. Brahim Mazned visited Ghana recently to meet with Ghanaian artists and explore the prospects of cooperation in the field. With the AU’s theme of the Year 2021 being “Arts, Culture and Heritage: Levers for Building the Africa We Want”, more cultural exchanges between Morocco and Ghana are expected.
The people to people dynamic is what we deem crucial to the strengthening of our bilateral ties. We are having meetings and engaging discussions with Moroccan and Ghanaian decision makers and other stakeholders to further pursue this agenda.
According to your Excellency’s work experience in Ghana, how do Ghanaian people perceive Morocco and Moroccans?
Moroccans living in Ghana are very well integrated in the country. They live in peace and harmony with the friendly people of Ghana.
Though small in number, their presence and contribution to the society they live in is tremendous. They bring in the Moroccan cultural richness and diversity. The Ghanaian people have discovered Morocco thanks to our fellow citizens living in Ghana. Our Ghanaian sisters and brothers came to appreciate Moroccan unique cuisine, traditional caftans and other garments and handicrafts owing to the efforts of our Moroccan diaspora in Ghana and through their individual and community endeavors.
During the darkest hours of the pandemic last year, the Moroccan community has come forward to assist their fellow Moroccans who were stranded in Ghana. The Moroccan owned companies have also generously contributed to the Ghana Government Covid-19 Fund, and this has undoubtedly consolidated the perception of Moroccans in Ghana as a hospitable and generous people.
The Moroccan Embassy in Ghana is also strongly committed to promoting the various assets of the Kingdom of Morocco notably as a beacon for peace and tolerance, and a reliable and trustworthy partner in business and south-south cooperation.
What effect the AfCFTA would have on the economic relations between Morocco and Ghana?
In His speech at the extraordinary Summit of Heads of State and Government of the AU on the AfCFTA in 2018, His Majesty King Mohammed VI, may God Assist Him, underlined that “Morocco believes in co-development based on inter-African cooperation and economic complementarity, on active solidarity and the pooling of means and efforts”. I personally think that Morocco and Ghana have all the genius and resources to achieve sustainable development goals and sustainable growth for both countries and for the whole region if they put their efforts together, tighten their already existing economic ties and explore new avenues of cooperation.
How does the Moroccan Embassy in Ghana work to implement His Majesty’s vision to make of the Kingdom a gateway to Africa?
In his famous speech to the African Union upon the return of Morocco to its institutional family, His Majesty Mohammed VI, May God Assist Him, invited all “African nations to join Morocco’s dynamism and give new impetus to the whole of our continent” stating that Morocco has “opted to share and transfer its know-how offering to build a safe, solidarity-based future”.
At the Embassy of Morocco in Ghana we advocate enhanced economic cooperation between Morocco and Ghana. Our two peoples deserve that we don’t spare any effort in coordinating our efforts to bring them more prosperity, well being and development. To our Ghanaian partners, officials and businessmen, we promote Morocco’s strategic position, at the crossroad of Africa, Europe, the Arab world and America, especially along the west coast of the Atlantic, which could be a platform for Ghana towards these regions.
The Moroccan businessmen and women and other stakeholders should also acknowledge that Ghana with a population of 30.1 million is one of the world’s fastest growing economies. It expanded by an estimated 7.4% in 2019 according to IMF data. The country is also the biggest recipient of foreign investment in West Africa and is currently well positioned to become the prime regional hub for financial services, logistics and manufacturing within the next decade. Stability, solid economic growth, major investment projects in the resource sector and a fertile tech ecosystem support the country’s vision. That is to say that business opportunities; joint ventures and partnerships abound and should be seized.
From your own perspective and from available data, how do you perceive the future of Morocco-Ghana relations?
Morocco and Ghana share the same values and aspirations; they are both deeply committed to regional integration and the pursuit of sustainable prosperity for the African people and see eye to eye on the issues facing the continent, such as rampant terrorism, illegal and unorganized migration or climate change. I am confident that the ongoing dynamic between Morocco and Ghana will bring our two countries to work together and explore new and untapped opportunities for the sake of our peoples’ prosperity and well being. The future of our bilateral will definitely be brighter!