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New Ambassador of the Kingdom of Morocco to South Africa Youssef Amrani is pledging to deepen diplomatic ties with the country to spark inclusive development across Africa.

Morocco, he said, bases its policies and contributions in Africa on the desire to position the continent as an emerging hub in a world perpetually changing.

“We are engaged constructively and productively with all African countries to combat the factors of instability, while promoting African unity and solidarity and enabling the continent to overcome the challenges it faces particularly in the areas of peace, collective security and sustainable development, while respecting the shared values, the principles of peaceful resolutions of conflicts and States’ territorial integrity.” Ambassador Amrani said.

He believes South Africa is strategic in sparking inclusive development across the continent.

The North African country has turned the leaf in recent years and is now investing 85 percent of its foreign spend in Africa — the second-largest investor on the continent behind South Africa.

Ambassador Amrani, who received his accreditation to the post last month, believes Morocco is an influential player in regional trade, development and security.

He is aware of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s FDI drive to reach the R1.2-trillion mark in five years and has pledged his country will play its part by increasing export capacity and supporting direct investment flows.

“We are aware that Morocco and South Africa are the largest investors in the continent and as regional hubs they are called upon to play major roles in the African integration process through enhancing inter-African trade and investment to promote growth, shared prosperity through jobs creation and through appropriate tools like the African continental free-trade area,” he told The Star.

He outlined his three-pronged mission in South Africa, which includes reinforcing political dialogue at bilateral level, and also at multi-lateral level through the African Union (AU). He also expressed his desire to upsurge export capacity as well as promote people-to-people relations by deepening exchanges in the areas of culture, education, food security, climate change, energy, water management and tourism.

After rejoining the AU in 2017, Morocco is now making a bold bid to assume the mantle as the leader of the African-Arab and Islamic states – riding on a combination of politics, economics and religion – at a time when there is a regional vacuum to be filled.

Ambassador Amrani added that the ongoing UN political process around the disputed Western Sahara territory is largely supported by the international community as reflected by the latest resolution of the UN Security Council, which defined the approach to achieve a political, realistic, practicable and sustainable solution based on compromise to this regional dispute.

The Ambassador recalled that the last UN resolution also reaffirms the pre-eminence of the autonomy initiative proposed by Morocco as a basis to end this longstanding dispute.

“This process acknowledges a very positive momentum and it’s to be emphasised that the past year has been a turning point, thanks to the adoption of Security Council resolutions 2440/2468 and the constructive commitment of the UN Secretary General,” he said.

He believes the UN resolution 2494, adopted recently paves the way for the next UN envoy to continue from where former UN envoy Horst Kohler left off after his resignation last year in May on health grounds.

The historic ties between Morocco and South Africa date back to the apartheid period when Nelson Mandela sought military training, in Oujda, a city northeast of Morocco near the border with Algeria, between 1960 and 1962. In 1962, King Hassan II, the Moroccan King between 1961 to 1999, ordered El Khatib to hand over money, to deliver weapons and ammunition and to provide military training to the African National Congress (ANC) fighters.

“Morocco backed and supported South Africa during its courageous and legitimate fight for the establishment of a renewed and democratically based order, and ending apartheid,” Ambassador Amrani said.

He believes his Majesty the King Mohammed VI and President Ramaphosa share the same vision of a prosperous and stable Africa.

For several years, Ambassador Amrani worked as a civil servant at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Rabat. He also served as Minister of foreign affairs delegate and Ambassador of Morocco to multiple Latin American countries and he also was Secretary General of the Mediterranean Union and member to the Royal Cabinet.