Analysis: Why is Morocco’s king visiting South Sudan?

Richard Hamilton

BBC World Service Africa editor,

King Mohamed VI of Morocco

King Mohamed VI of Morocco

Feb 2, 2017(Nyamilepedia) —— A few weeks ago Moroccan military planes landed in South Sudan’s capital, Juba, equipped with much-needed medical supplies. Today King Mohammed is expected to open mobile health clinics run by Moroccans.

The trip caps a charm offensive by the king in which he has visited several African nations in order to cement relations with them and gather their support for rejoining the African Union (AU).

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But the interchange with South Sudan is also an example of a poorer African country reaching out to a richer one for support, trade and investment.

Interest in the north African kingdom’s economy – the fifth largest on the continent and worth more than one $100bn (£80bn) – has grown in recent years.

For Morocco, readmission to the AU smooths its access to fast-growing African economies to the south and helps reduce its reliance on increasingly stagnant European markets to the north.

Since the year 2000, King Mohammed has paid 46 visits to 25 African countries, and has signed nearly 1,000 trade agreements.

Morocco is investing heavily in African infrastructure. In December, for example, he travelled to Nigeria where he signed a deal for a huge gas pipeline project aimed at linking Nigeria with Europe.

Morocco has also been at the forefront of alternative energy – with solar power projects on its soil as well as plans to reform agriculture on the continent. The latest global summit on the environment – COP22 – was held in Marrakech in December.

Thousands of Africans go to Morocco to study and are offered scholarships. In fact although the authorities in Rabat would not appreciate the comparison, there are similarities between what the Moroccan monarch is doing now and the actions of the former Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi who won friends and influenced people via a massive programme of investment across Africa.

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