Bridge from East to West
Mohammed Rachid Maaninou, the Ambassador of Morocco to Kazakhstan, tells about The Kingdom evolution into one of the leading economic powers in the region and development of the joint future of Morocco and Kazakhstan.
In the second half of the 20th century, the Kingdom of Morocco became a constitutional state. In the 1970s, our country was drowning in crime, but the King formed a group of judges to investigate the murders that occurred in those years. Victims’ families received compensation from the state. It’s clear this will not bring the relatives back, but some kind of justice will prevail.
After that, we began to develop infrastructure: ports, roads and railways. Next we took up production: Renault built the largest plant outside of France in the Tangier free trade zone, and today Morocco produces 900,000 cars a year. In addition, three factories have been opened in Morocco for Airbus and Boeing. 80% of the world’s phosphate reserves are located in Morocco, and phosphate means production of fertilizers, including that in other countries. Now we have built a plant worth several billion dollars in Nigeria, as well as in Ethiopia, Brazil, India. In addition, in the face of rising oil prices, we are taking care of our energy security: we are building a wind farm on 17,000 hectares.
It is impossible to be an ideal state, so you must strive to be number one in areas where you are strong. This is the approach we are taking, and thanks to it our GDP has grown from less than $500 per person to more than $3,000. We are transforming agriculture: we monitor the lack or, conversely, excess of water for plants using drones. Thanks to this, we have moved from importing all food products to exporting.
The figure of the King is very important for our country. He is actively involved in charity work, helping the poor. Important—none of the members of the royal family has positions in the government, and the Prime Minister directly administers the State. Incidentally, Morocco is the only country in the world where the Islamist party has lost power simply by losing an election, without any dramatic events!
Morocco and Kazakhstan share a nomadic culture. Nomads are people with a unique worldview and values; first of all, they value freedom. Many people ask me about polygamy in Morocco. It is allowed. However, 25 years ago, King Mohammed VI passed a law according to which every time a husband wants to take a second and further wife, the already existing wife (or wives) must give consent before a judge in family court.
Morocco and Kazakhstan have the potential for joint development. We dream of building a fertilizer plant to supply most of Central Asia. I am negotiating with local officials. This is a serious project, about 5 billion dollars and 5–6 thousand jobs per one plant.
Author: Yerlan Nukenov
Photo: From hero's personal archive