ASILAH - Secretary General of the Asilah Forum Foundation Mohammed Benaissa hailed the long-lasting and brotherly Moroccan-Senegalese ties on the opening ceremony of the 40th edition of Asilah International Cultural Moussem attended by Senegalese President Macky Sall.
“The visit Macky Sall to Assilah is a sign of the depth of ties and the mutual appreciation between our King Mohammed VI and the Senegalese President. It also testifies to the centuries-old relations of cooperation, solidarity and fraternity that unite our two countries,” said Benaissa.
The former Moroccan foreign minister stressed his pride in being able to continue to organise this international cultural event throughout the four decades despite all the difficulties and its big cultural stakes thanks to King Mohammed VI’s unhindered support.
“Asilah was the seed that produced, fed and initiated the rest of the achievements; this seeds is Africa I say it in one word a word charged with several meanings and various connotations,” said Benaissa.
He emphasised the participation of several artists, intellectuals, writers, media specialists and politicians, including the late Senegalese president and poet Léopold Sédar Senghor, from all over Africa in Asilah, with whom “the pseudo wall of the Grand Sahara” has been broken.
The Senegalese leader presided Asilah Forum Foundation’s first symposium themed “The issue of integration and complementarity in Africa”.
He said that Morocco was the country of fraternal hospitality for every Senegalese as solid ties unite both countries.
The summary of the African integration is like half-empty the half-full glass dilemma. The pessimists will see it half empty while the optimists will see it half full. I make my bet that the glass is half full,” said Sall.
The Senegalese President insisted that no continent had been plundered like Africa in the last 500 years.
He pointed out that the pacification of the African continent remained a goal to be achieved even if the number of armed conflicts has dramatically decreased.
He said that terrorism remained a source of concern in the continent even if the threat is not specific and that no country in the world was immune to this scourge.
On the economic front, Sall said that intra-African trade was still low since it accounted for less than 15% of the continent's total trade.
“Even though we continue to show growth rates above global average, Africa is still lagging behind so nearly all development sectors these are the challenges faced by the African Union since its launch in 2002,” said the Senegalese President.
Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita said Sall’s presence in Asilah was an occasion to affirm the appreciation of his steadfast African positions to serve the issues and interests of the continent, and was a pivotal recognition of the African integration.
Bourita said that paradoxically Africa still has to make efforts in terms of real integration despite having more economic unions than any other continent in the world.
“African countries exchange twice as much with European counterpart as between themselves,” he noted, adding that Arab Maghreb Union was unfortunately a champion of any category of regional disintegration.
The Moroccan FM highlighted the high logistical cost in Africa that was hampering the flow of the merchandise in the continent.
“African goods transit via Europe and Asia to return to Africa,” said Bourita, citing the example of tomatoes that are travelling 2000 km from Morocco to Algeria through Marseille whereas the distance between Oujda and Tlemcen is only 60 km.
Bourita said that the integration of the continent must be carried by a boost of Afro-optimism and there would not be any integration without an action policy stemming from tangible results both politically and economically.