Sub-Saharan African migrants at the center of Moroccan professional projects

In the last decade, Morocco has opened its doors to immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa, especially after returning to the African Union in 2017, and the relevant ministries and associations leapt in to create a favourable climate for the reception, training and integration of these immigrants.

By the numbers

The results of the national research on forced migration conducted by the High Commission for Planning in 2021 reveal that 1 out of every 7  immigrant received vocational training in Morocco. 17.3% received this training in their country of origin, 13.9% in Morocco and 0.6% in another country. Citizens of the Democratic Republic of the Congo ranked first with 53% of immigrants who received vocational training, followed by citizens of the Central African Republic (46.3%), Cote d’Ivoire (42.5%) and Cameroon (41.3%), and the lowest percentages were recorded among Malians (18.9%).

Civil society and the training of the African workforce

The experience of the Jiber Association in the city of Sefrou is among the experiences that draw attention in terms of training of African immigrants living in Morocco. Seven years ago, the association signed a partnership agreement with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, African Cooperation and Moroccan Expatriates, where Anis Biro was holding the position of Minister at the time.

According to the head of the Jiber Association, Mustafa Toudi, the vocational training program for immigrants was launched in 2015 in Morocco, and until 2020, the association has recruited immigrants wishing to receive vocational training in the agricultural field and to be integrated as workers within the villages of Fez-Meknes.

In 2018, an English language training program was launched by the association in partnership with the American Cultural Center in Fez.

In Tangier, the Mediterranean Meeting for Migration and Development Association (ARMID), has developed a global program that aims to improve the situation of immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa, by providing them with a solid vocational training that culminates in the distribution of certificates.

Between 2019 and 2022, the association has launched a training program in the field of hairdressing and aesthetics, for the benefit of 100 immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa. Indeed, it came after the previous project of the association, during the period 2012-2015, which consisted of recycling all types of recyclable household waste such as paper, plastic and metals, a project that has experienced an unprecedented influx of immigrants, according to Mr. Said Bouamama, President of the Association Mediterranean Meeting for Immigration and Development, who confirmed the participation of 200 immigrants.

As for the idea of the project of socio-professional integration of sub-Saharan migrant women, ”it emerged through a number of painful testimonies that these sub-Saharan migrant women have shared with the association, which reflect their daily suffering, including poverty, fragility and social exclusion, also exploitation and domination of men, pushing immigrant women into the abyss of the prostitution market and begging. The president of the ARMID association said that this project has had good results and could be reproduced, because the creativity of sub-Saharan women has been clearly observed, especially in aesthetics and hairdressing, a profession in high demand in a city like Tangier, where women try new hairstyles such as “the rasta”.

Unlike the Jiber association in Sefrou, the Mediterranean Meeting for Migration and Development Association launched its projects without national institutional partners. It has had a fruitful partnership with the French association CCFD Terre solidaire, although the president of the association keeps a great ambition to establish relationships based on coordination and mutual cooperation with various institutions and ministerial, regional and collective councils in order to create and improve training workshops aimed at facilitating the entry of immigrants in the labor market.

Said Bouamama also does not hide his great ambition to integrate more young African immigrants as well as Moroccans in the project of restoration of historical buildings, through the establishment of a school specialized in the rehabilitation of spaces in Tangier.

In Rabat, Amy Sy DIALLO opened her own restaurant, offering African and Senegalese dishes. Amy Sy came to Morocco as a scholarship holder to study law, as part of a partnership between the Moroccan and the Senegalese ministries of higher education.

Amy Sy is currently benefiting from an internship in catering, provided by the National Agency for the Promotion of Employment and Skills (ANAPEC)

Amy Sy DIALLO said: ”My mother previously settled in Morocco, a reason that encouraged me to come here. I discovered that the opportunities for work are numerous. I have already worked in call centers. I noticed that some of my colleagues had a lot of difficulties to integrate, the Moroccan cuisine is different from ours, that’s what pushed me to open an African restaurant.

The community of Tangier and Sub-Saharan African Migrants

Morocco has become an attractive area for north-south migration, due to the polarizing force of its economic and social model, because it is no longer only a country of transit, but has become a country of reception and integration of a large number of migrants, whether they are citizens or asylum seekers.

In order to accompany these rapid changes in the migration phenomenon in Morocco, a national strategy on migration and asylum has been developed, in accordance to the supreme directives of His Majesty King Mohammed VI, may God assist him, which has been implemented in a context of positive transformations and political and economic reforms in the country, a strategy that respects the universal values of human rights, as well as the Kingdom’s international obligations.

So how does the Tangier community approach the challenge of integrating immigrants from sub-Saharan countries into the workforce?         

The city of Tangier in particular is considered an attractive area, due to the stability factors it presents for immigrants from both directions, and although most immigrants from the north to Morocco are generally legally settled, it is difficult to count the migration flows from the south, although it is evident and widely observed in various parts of the city. In this context, the city of Tangier, like all Moroccan cities experiencing this phenomenon, was involved in the first exceptional regularization campaign launched by Morocco in 2014, which resulted in the regularization of 23,096 migrants, which at the time represented 83% of the total applications filed, as well as in the second campaign launched in 2017, which resulted in the regularization of more than 20,000 migrants.

The community of Tangier has adopted from the outset an approach aimed at strengthening its image as an institution of support and guidance for immigrants, the community of Tangier was the first to develop a city charter during 2014, approved by its collective council unanimously by its members present. Its preamble states that the city of Tangier has a history, as well as an ancient Arab, Islamic, Amazigh, African and Mediterranean dimension, and its provisions state that the city of Tangier is committed to ensuring the safety, security and well-being of the city’s residents, visitors and immigrants, as well as to renouncing all forms of discrimination, racism and hatred, and to adhering to the principles of fairness, equality and respect for human rights.  It is within this framework that the community has participated in many national and international meetings, to exchange around migration policies, and establish new mechanisms to better manage this phenomenon.

Tangier has contributed, since 2017, to the work of the program “Migration between Mediterranean cities” in its various conferences and seminars, which focused on: employment and education (Madrid) – human rights and access to basic services (Tangier) – refugees and local government issues (Vienna) – housing Social and urban planning (Amman) – social and educational integration of immigrants (Turin) – interurban migration (Beirut) – cooperation between local institutions (Lyon), and the implementation of the project “Tangier Welcomes” in cooperation with the Organization of Mediterranean Cities.

The community of Tangier is working in cooperation with the Organization of Mediterranean Cities to cope with the constraints of migration, to engage in the provision of reception structures and an administrative organization oriented towards the support of migrants, taking into account the particular situation of the city, in accordance with governmental efforts made in this area. The local authority respects the limits of its legal competencies, while remaining open to all interested initiatives in this regard, especially those submitted by local civil society associations that deal with migration issues and asylum, while the community of Tangier is working to implement programs to strengthen the capacity of civil society organizations in this area, and to provide them with a set of mechanisms and working tools.

The city of Tangier has several civil society associations that deal with migration and asylum issues, and the city council seeks to support and open up to them on a permanent basis, and to provide them with the capacities that are possible and available within its competencies, in order for the community to participate in the process of institutionalizing cooperation and coordination between international non-governmental organizations and civil society associations, with the aim of raising public awareness of the migration issue and the constraints that migrants face in society, it therefore seeks to enshrine a culture of coexistence. In this context, the city of Tangier has hosted many seminars, workshops and meetings, the last of which is the project “Tangier receives” for the year 2021, a project that took care of giving courses in Moroccan dialect for the benefit of sub-Saharan immigrants, to enable them to communicate as well as to benefit from vocational guidance and learn about local culture for integration. These events sponsored by the “Mediterranean Authority for Migration and Asylum”, “Solidarity Association” and the “Mediterranean Meeting for Migration and Development. Although Covid-19 has slowed this project, a mobile center was set up with the idea of creating a permanent reception center for listening, guidance and support, in order to establish contact with a group of immigrants and include them in a census register. This project can be further developed and sustained after the pandemic Covid-19.

The Council has worked within the framework of the Immigration and Associative Network Pact to mobilize activities concerned with migration (such as the Solidarity Association – Ahlam Association – Voice of Migrants Association – Tangier Receives Association – Maghreb Integration Association – Al-Khaimah Association – and others)

The community has also participated in the project “Structuring and strengthening the dialogue between the Community and its civil society for a joint action for the integration of migrants” which was carried out in partnership between the Union of Cities and Local and Regional Governments – Municipality of Madrid – Municipality of Lisbon – Community of Tangier – The Moroccan Network of Multicultural Cities and others.

The Council also seeks to materialize the possibility of providing reception centers and monitoring the flow of migrants in the city, thinking about the creation of an immigration observatory and an immigration council that deals with all immigration issues in general.

By : Ayoub LAOUQID