Seminar of the Council of the Moroccan Community Living Abroad (CCME): Strengthening the contribution of Moroccans abroad to the development of regions

At the invitation of the Council of the Moroccan Community Living Abroad (CCME) and the Association of Regions of Morocco (ARM), the Secretary General of UCLG Africa, Mr. Jean Pierre Elong Mbassi participated in the seminar on the theme: “Strengthening the contribution of Moroccans of the World to the development of Morocco” which took place on March 9, 2023 at the hotel La Tour Hassan in Rabat.

About a hundred participants took part in the seminar, including the presidents of the regional councils of Morocco, associations of Moroccans living abroad, and associations of Moroccans of the World involved in the design and implementation of development projects at the level of regions and territories of Morocco.

The Seminar was marked by opening speeches of Ms. Mbarka Bouaida, President of the Association of Moroccan Regions (ARM) and Mr. Driss El Yazami, President of the Council of the Moroccan Community Living Abroad (CCME); and by two introductory conferences presented by Mr. Jason Gagnon, Chief Economist at the OECD Development Centre, and Mr. Jacques Ould Ouadia, Researcher in political economy of development.

Three roundtable discussions followed:

The first roundtable, around the theme “Regional Development Strategies: policies, needs and involvement of Moroccans around the world”, was moderated by Mr. Ouadih Dada, Editor-in-Chief at 2M. The panelists who intervened were Mr. Abdellatif Mazouz, President of the Regional Council of Casablanca-Settat; Mr. Rachid El Abdi, President of the Regional Council of Rabat-Sale-Kenitra; Mr. Abdelouahed El Ansari, President of the Regional Council of Fez-Meknes; Mr. Aadil El Barrakat, President of the Regional Council of Beni Mellal-Kenitra; Mr. Karim Achengli, President of the Regional Council of Souss-Massa; and Mr. Hro Abrou, President of the Regional Council of the Regional Council of Draa-Tafilalet

The second round table, on the theme “Moroccans of the world, local development and partnership with local authorities: good practices and difficulties”, was moderated by Ms. Chadia Arab, geographer, researcher at CNRS-UMR ESO, University of Angers, France. The panelists were Mr. Mohamed Mansour, Head of Mobilities and Solidarity of the Association Migrations et Développement (Agadir, Morocco); Mr. Hssain Ouzani, President of the Association Akhiam (Imilchi, Morocco); Mr. Abdellatif Mortajine, President of the Association Khamsa (France); Ms. Fatima-Zhora Khayar, Co-Chair of Actions@Villages (Belgium); Mr. Mostafa Boulharrak El Idrissi, President of the Association of Moroccan Migrants in the Balearic Islands AL Maghreb (Spain); Ms. Paola Chianca, Senior International Development Expert, Head of the regional programme for migration initiatives in Morocco (PRIM), Expertise France, French Development Agency (AFD, Morocco); and Ms. Léa Huber, Head of the DEPOMI project, Belgian Development Agency ENABEL, Morocco.

The third round table was under the theme “Entrepreneurs and highly qualified skills: dynamics, good practices, difficulties”. Moderated by Mr. Hicham Jamid, sociologist, researcher at the Institut pour le Développement (IRD), University Aix-Marseille (France), the panelists of this roundtable were Mr. Jamal Bouoyour, Economist, University of Pau et des Pays de l’Adour (France); Mr. Samir Kaddar, President of the C3M World Network of Medical Skills of Moroccans (Belgium); Mr. Abdelkhalek Hassini, President of the CAD Oriental Europe collective; Mr. Mustapha Adhar, co-founder of The Moroccan-Dutch Network MD Next (Netherlands); Mr. Azzedine Maarroufi, President of the German-Moroccan Skills Network DMK (Germany); and Ms. Houda Znibaa, Ambassador of Moroccan Entrepreneurs of the World (MeM by CGEM), Fes-Meknes.

The first roundtable highlighted the fact that Morocco has a legal and institutional framework that is conducive to the involvement of Moroccans of the world in the Kingdom’s development. The Royal speech of August 2022 gave clear guidelines for taking into account Moroccans of the world in development programs and projects. The issue at hand is greater participation of Moroccans of the world in the development of Morocco’s regions at a time when each region is elaborating its regional development plan. Based on the examples of the regions of Casablanca-Settat, Fez-Meknes, Beni Mellal-Kenitra, Souss-Massa, Draa Tafilalet, the participants were extensively informed about the initiatives taken to provide an adequate framework of intervention for the reception and realization of the projects of Moroccans of the world: information on the potentialities and regional opportunities; establishment of project catalogs; creation of support funds for the creation of enterprises; and technical assistance to project holders. The panelists also felt that the Forum’s reflections should be placed in a broader framework, considering the character of Morocco as a country of emigration but also of immigration, as well as the tensions related to the management of migration, the Kingdom having a duty to set an example in this regard since it has been designated by its peers of the African Union as a champion on the issue of migration.

The second round table focused on concrete cooperation actions and reviewed the experiences of project development carried out at the local level by the following associations: Association Migrations et Développement (Agadir); Association Akhiam (Imilchi); Association Khamsa; Association Action@Village; Association of Moroccan Migrants in the Balearic Islands Al Maghreb; Regional Program of Migration Initiatives in Morocco (PRIM); and the DEPOMI project of the Belgian development agency, Enabel. The participants insisted on the need to simplify the intervention procedures. It was proposed that a focal point be set up within each regional council to welcome Moroccans from around the world and to accompany them in the process of carrying out their projects.

The third round table emphasized the diverse nature of Moroccans in the world and the need to better organize to attract Moroccan talent and connect them with the territories. The most critical issue is the competition between countries and territories to attract brains, a real war for talent. It is a question of coupling the issues of migration and the issues of territories. The maturation of thinking on migration has made it possible to refine the understanding of concepts and contexts. It is necessary to renegotiate the relationship between the Diaspora and the host countries, in order to support and supervise the international mobility and entrepreneurial projects of Moroccans around the world. It was noted that the link between migration and development is not yet well understood by the regions, and the areas of intervention are expanding. Decentralized cooperation from one territory to another must play an active role in mobilizing the efforts of the Diaspora, and diversify the angles (economic, but also social and cultural) of intervention. The panelists also agreed that there is work to be done on the promotion of local products by relying on the mobilization capacities of the Diaspora in this field. The participation of the Diaspora must be explored with the establishment of networks of ambassadors in the host countries. The benefits that can be derived from the feeling of belonging should certainly be explored, as in the case of Agadir, which has created Souss Massa Promotion, which will carry the Ambassadors’ Network to land projects in the region. This platform allows to keep links, to interconnect and promote regional development. The region must be the catalyst of this ecosystem of synergy of actors by betting on the partnership. It is necessary to do a work of targeting and territorial marketing and to call upon the Moroccans of the world to connect the good interlocutors, to build the projects and the adequacy of the profiles to the needs, and to have an impact on the creation of value and jobs.

In conclusion, the idea of setting up a common platform of reflection to extend the work initiated during this day was raised. It is also necessary to institutionalize these platforms in the regions by setting up a consultation body dedicated to the Moroccans of the world. The Association of Moroccan Regions is open to communicating better with Moroccans of the world to get to know them better, and advocates for the strengthening of airlines to open up and decompartmentalize.