Africa’s priorities discussed at Crans Montana Forum in Dakhla

More than 1,000 participants from 100 countries attended the forum.
Sunday 25/03/2018
A side from the official award ceremony in Dakhla. (CMF)
A side from the official award ceremony in Dakhla. (CMF)

CASABLANCA - Africa and south-south cooperation were among the main agenda items of the fourth Crans Montana Forum (CMF) in the southern Moroccan city of Dakhla and Casablanca.

More than 1,000 participants from 100 countries, including former ministers, leaders of parliaments, policymakers, parliamentarians and international experts, attended the forum.

This year’s theme focused on issues such as the future of Africa, sustainable development, the continent’s challenges in globalisation and cooperation among African countries.

Moroccan King Mohammed VI sent a message to the CMF via Ynja Khattat, president of the Dakhla-Oued Ed-Dahab region, in which he described Africa as “a land of opportunities” that should be maximised for the continent’s development.

“Africa is at a crossroads. The profound changes under way in the continent are multidimensional. They point to a rapidly changing Africa — a continent increasingly removed from the stereotypes and negative cliches it has been labelled with,” the king’s message said.

“To achieve progress, however, Africa needs to muster all its energy and build on innovative, win-win partnerships.”

King Mohammed VI urged all Africans, especially young people, to mobilise resolutely and effectively to address the challenges Africa faces and to embrace shared growth.

The CMF, which was established in 1986 in Switzerland, is a non-governmental organisation that focuses on fostering international cooperation, dialogue, development, stability, peace and security in the world.

Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy outlined his vision for Africa’s development, calling on Europe to play an important role in it.

“The failure of Africa will be the tragedy of Europe,” Sarkozy said. “There is nothing more important for the 500 million Europeans that we will be in 2050 than to be concerned with an absolute priority of what will be the economic future of the 2.5 billion Africans, half of whom will be under 20.”

He proposed the establishment of a European Marshall Plan to develop Africa’s economy through giving a competitive priority to European companies in exchange for funds.

Sarkozy lamented the closing of the borders between Morocco and Algeria and called for the revival of the Arab Maghreb Union.

Moustapha Cisse Lo, speaker of the parliament of the Economic Community of West African States Commission (ECOWAS), spoke of Morocco’s possible accession to the West African market.

“The agreement in principle of the heads of state being acquired, there remains only a few technical and operational adjustments for Morocco’s accession to ECOWAS,” said Cisse Lo, who was awarded the Crans Montana Foundation Prize 2018 for his work at ECOWAS.

“The need for all kinds of support to ECOWAS is proving increasingly urgent. That said, the problems faced by this regional organisation in the integration process are numerous,” he warned, emphasising the political instability and bad governance that have marked the history of many countries in the subregion.”

ECOWAS includes 15 West African countries, none of which shares a border with Morocco. Rabat, however, is an ECOWAS “privileged strategic partner.”

The results of a study of Morocco’s potential membership were favourable for the North African country.

Discussions at the forum also addressed illegal immigration, regional cooperation on public health and global urban management as Africa’s new challenge, climate change and women and youth.

Sarkozy, who was very strict on immigration during his presidency, stressed that the freedom of movement should not break the established balance and called for the urgent establishment of an international institution to study the demographic problem.