Nasser Bourita, Moroccan Minister of Foreign Affairs has stated that the international initiative of King Mohammed VI to favor the access of the Sahel countries to the Atlantic Ocean is the promise of a strategic turning point for our countries because he has constantly advocated a development approach to deal with the problems of the Sahel

Morocco bets on development with the access of the Sahel to the Atlantic, a strategic turning point

Reunión de ministros de Asuntos Exteriores de Marruecos, Burkina Faso, Mali, Níger y Chad en Marrakech
In Marrakech, meeting of foreign ministers of Morocco, Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger and Chad

Morocco is undertaking a strategic initiative with its policy of promoting and favoring the access of Sahel countries to the Atlantic Ocean with the strong backing of King Mohammed VI who is in line with his usual concept of constantly advocating a developmental approach in dealing with the problems of the Sahel.

  1. Meeting in Marrakech
  2. Final communiqué: compelling reasons
  3. A new, strong and bold Africa
  4. The Sahel has always been at the heart of Morocco's foreign policy 

The aim is to promote the economic and social development of these countries in the face of the instability that the Sahel is suffering from the activities of terrorist groups that have been aggravated by the Russian interference of the Wagner group using force indiscriminately and which has led to several coups d'état. One of the consequences is the loss of France's weight and influence in several of these countries with the departure of its troops and the disruption of trade in key sectors such as uranium. 

Mohamed VI
Mohammed VI

The animosity towards France in countries such as Mali, Niger, Chad or Burkina Faso is transferred towards the rest of the Europeans who have been in these countries for years with the aim of contributing to the training of their Armed and Security Forces and strengthening civilian institutions, with a worrying failure after the Russian intervention, with the support of Algeria. 

As opposed to the confrontational policy pursued by the Algerian government, the Moroccan initiative is committed to economic and social development, which represents a strategic turning point for the region initiated by Mohammed VI in favor of the Sahel countries.

Meeting in Marrakech

In Marrakech, the first meeting of the foreign ministers of Morocco, Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger and Chad served to begin laying the foundations for development cooperation, which, according to the Moroccan minister, Nasser Bourita, has been constantly raised by King Mohammed VI when addressing the situation in the Sahel.

At a joint press conference after the ministerial coordination meeting on the King's initiative to favor the Sahel countries' access to the Atlantic Ocean, Nasser Bourita stressed that Mohammed VI has always taken important decisions in favor of these states, including the exemption of customs duties on the entry of their products into the Moroccan market and the cancellation of their debts.

marrakech sahel atlantico foto familia
In Marrakech, meeting of foreign ministers of Morocco, Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger and Chad

The minister also considered that the military and security approach to face the problems of the Sahel countries is important, but still insufficient, pointing out that development approaches are capable of offering solutions to the real problems of these states.

Bourita also pointed out that the stability of the countries of the region must emanate from their own will and not be imposed from outside, noting that the Sahel has the potential and human resources to develop a vision of its future.

Organized at the initiative of Morocco, this coordination meeting was attended by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Mali, Abdoulaye Diop, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Regional Cooperation and Nationals of Burkina Faso Abroad, Karamoko Jean Marie Traoré, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Cooperation and Nationals of Niger Abroad, Bakary Yaou Sangaré, and the Director General for Africa and African Integration of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Nationals of Chad Abroad and International Cooperation, Abakar Kourma.

Final communiqué: compelling reasons

The meeting has culminated in the adoption of a final communiqué, in which the foreign ministers of Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger and Chad expressed their countries' support for the International Initiative of Mohammed VI to promote the access of the Sahel States to the Atlantic Ocean, which offers great opportunities for the economic transformation of the entire region.

"There are many substantial and pragmatic reasons that make this Royal Initiative the promise of a strategic turnaround for our countries," said Nasser Bourita at the opening of the Coordination Meeting. 

marrakech sahel atlantico reunion
In Marrakech, meeting of foreign ministers of Morocco, Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger and Chad

The first of these reasons, the minister said, is the tradition of cooperation, mutual aid and solidarity that has always existed between Morocco, the sovereigns of Morocco and the brotherly countries of the Sahel. In this regard, he recalled that King Mohammed VI has always valued and promoted these ties, noting that the Royal Initiative is an extension of the active and supportive commitment of the Kingdom, and the Sovereign personally, alongside the brotherly countries of the Sahel.

"It is simply and humbly about capitalizing on a tradition of cooperation based on solidarity, to demonstrate the triple conviction that underlies the Royal Approach," Bourita explained. For the King, the Sahel is not - nor has it ever been - a region like any other, and even less a simple transition zone between North Africa and sub-Saharan Africa. 

The second conviction is that the King has always believed in the potential of the Sahel countries. "Where many see problems, the King sees opportunities. Where some speak of despair, the King sees potential, and where some opt for easy solutions, the King advocates the use of funds to develop real solutions," Bourita said. 

For this reason, and this is the third conviction, the King advocates development as the key to solving the Sahel's problems.

A new, strong and bold Africa

In this line, the Royal Initiative is "the promise that Morocco will bring all its energy, mobilize all its efforts and share all its know-how," he stressed, specifying that the objective is to support the Sahel partners, unlock the huge potential of the region and thus accelerate the growth and sustainable and inclusive development of the region's economies.

marrakech sahel atlantico burkina faso
In Marrakech, meeting of foreign ministers of Morocco, Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger and Chad

This initiative reflects the philosophy of the Royal Vision, expressed at the 29th AU Summit, for "the emergence of a new Africa: a strong Africa, a bold Africa that takes responsibility for defending its interests, an Africa influential in the concert of nations."

In the same context, Bourita has pointed out that if the forces of evil - terrorists, separatists and other saboteurs - succeed in regionalizing their threat, there is no reason why the forces of good should not be able to regionalize the growth and development of their populations.

"This is the objective of the Mohammed VI Initiative to promote access to the Atlantic Ocean for the brotherly countries of the Sahel. Today, it would be inconceivable for a region as fertile as the Sahel to remain landlocked for lack of solidarity or audacity," he argued. 

In short, Bourita summarized, the Royal Initiative proposes to rethink the paradigm and build together creative and courageous solutions. 

"Instead of mercantile trade, the King prefers investment that truly creates shared and sustainable wealth. Instead of anesthetizing assistance, the King prefers structuring and win-win projects; and instead of the relentless force of security, the King relies on the unsuspected power of mind-shaping," he concluded.

marrakech sahel atlantico niger
In Marrakech, meeting of foreign ministers of Morocco, Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger and Chad

The Sahel has always been at the heart of Morocco's foreign policy 

The Sahel has always been at the heart of Morocco's foreign policy, which is a "reliable partner" for the countries of the region, stressed Bakary Yaou Sangaré, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Cooperation and Nigerians Abroad.

"For us, Morocco is a reliable partner that respects our dignity, our sovereignty and our independence," said Sangaré at the press conference. 

In this regard, the minister commented that the Sahel countries intend to "do everything possible to make the most of" this Royal Initiative, which aims to give a new impetus to the development of the region's states.

The King's Atlantic Initiative "will allow us not only to develop our infrastructures, but also to open up our countries internally and internationally," he said.

This Initiative, which "comes at an opportune moment", offers the Sahel States the possibility of selling their products on the international market at a lower cost, according to Sangaré, who took the opportunity to thank Morocco, "a country that is not only a friend of Niger, but also of the Sahel".