After more than three decades away, Morocco successfully accomplished its mission of rejoining the African Union during the body’s summit meeting in January. “I’m finally returning home... I’ve missed you all,” King Mohammed VI said to applause after his country’s readmission was confirmed.
Instead of savoring the moment, however, the North African nation quickly moved on to its next diplomatic initiative: an application, confirmed last week, to join the Economic Community of West African States, or ECOWAS. The bid is reportedly due to be considered in July.
The move has been widely, and correctly, viewed as a continuation of the ongoing charm offensive intended to strengthen Morocco’s position in the long-running dispute over the Western Sahara territory. Yet Morocco’s recent overtures to the rest of the continent are also driven by economic motives, and nowhere has that been more apparent in recent years than in West Africa.