Morocco moves forward with regionalization: Southern Provinces to offer model for sustainable development
RABAT (Morocco) - Morocco is moving forward in implementing its regionalization plan in the southern provinces through the establishment of a regional economic system conducive to growth, wealth generating and employment creation.
The broad outline of this development plan for the Moroccan southern provinces was disclosed on Wednesday by the President of the Economic, Social and Environmental Council, Chakib Benmoussa, in a presentation before the King of Morocco Mohammed VI.
This outline for the Southern provinces development plan is the first phase in the process of elaborating a new economic and social development pilot project for the southern provinces and a first step leading to implementing a project that will stand as a model for realizing the regionalization process nationwide as provided for by the Constitution.
Benmoussa noted that the major challenge of this priority project lies in ensuring the emergence of a system that promotes an economic, social, cultural and environmental development benefiting in the first place the local communities concerned.
The importance of this pilot project also lies in the fact that it will involve in its implementation not only the Economic, Social and Environmental Council (French acronym CESE) but also the local populations of these provinces, through their representative bodies, and the various components of the social fabric.
The CESE had been mandated to sketch out the development plan for the Moroccan southern provinces by King Mohammed VI last November on the occasion of the celebration of the anniversary of the Green March, a 1975 peaceful march that led to the liberation of Western Sahara from Spanish dominion and recovery of the territory by Morocco.
The King had then insisted on the need to consolidate the achievements accomplished and give new momentum to the reform process initiated at various levels, and renewed the country's commitment to implement advanced regionalization, starting with the southern provinces, as this regionalization will give the local populations opportunity to participate in the management of their local affairs and contribute to the promotion of an integrated and sustainable human development.
King Mohammed VI had also urged the CESE to develop a rigorous and integrated regional development model that is likely to promote a regional economic system which generates growth, wealth and employment and focuses on youth.
Following the king's speech, the CESE had set up an ad hoc and multidisciplinary committee to draw the new economic and social development plan for the southern provinces, in cooperation with the local populations. The plan is scheduled to be finalized in October 2013.
Morocco's southern provinces, which are witnessing remarkable economic development, can become "one of the most dynamic and most interesting models of development not only in Morocco but in the whole region." The southern provinces are growing and a comprehensive development program can target long-term investments from a wide range of companies that are transforming this area.
Private companies play a central role in the strengthening of many of the traditional and modern sectors. Due to the Spanish occupation that lasted until 1975, the southern provinces did not enjoy the same level of development as the northern regions of the kingdom.
The importance of the decentralization policy, which is an approach adopted at the national level, has particular significance in the southern provinces with regard to their geographical distance from the cities of Rabat and Casablanca.
Under the plan, the southern provinces will become a hub for investment and a model of integrated regional development. Resources will be mobilized and synergies for sustainable economic and social development in the region will be created.
In 2006, the southern provinces were among the top-ranking Moroccan regions in the Human Development Index of UNDP and in 2007, Laayoune was declared a slum-free city.
The Moroccan government has set ambitious targets to maximize investment in the southern provinces in different sectors. Cultural characteristics of the south represent an economic advantage for its economic future and serve as catalyst for growth in all sectors.
In the months ahead, the Moroccan Environmental, Economic and Social Council will follow through on its commitments and come up with a comprehensive and promising development plan that will give new impetus to the Moroccan southern provinces and turn them into a model of development in the region.