Sahara / Autonomy: The great challenge

Morocco’s southern provinces are poised to witness deep changes in terms of economic and social development.

The “New Development Model for the Southern Provinces,” launched in November 2012 at the initiative of King Mohammed VI, is the new project underway for the integrated development of these provinces.

As explained by the sovereign in a speech he delivered on November 6, on the occasion of the anniversary of the Green March, “it is not a simple proposition of workarounds for an emergency situation, nor isolated projects disconnected from one another, but rather a vision of integrated development.”

The scope of this project is illustrated by the huge 140 billion Dirham (€12.5 billion) investments that will be injected in these provinces over a ten year period.

This project will somehow materialize, on the ground, the implementation of the autonomy plan for the Sahara that Rabat submitted to the UN in 2007, as a consensus solution to the territorial dispute over the Western Sahara.

The project also falls in line with the ambitious regionalization program and the government, the parliament and other institutions are already at work on such a program.

This major undertaking is expected to double the GDP in the southern provinces and create, over the next decade, nearly 120,000 jobs, halving the current unemployment rate which stands at around 15% in this part the Kingdom.

The state is already investing some 50 million Dirham a year in the southern provinces and is to sustain these investments with a 30% input from public -private partnerships, explains Nizar Baraka, the newly appointed President of the Economic, social and Environmental Council (CESE.)

Baraka who replaced Chakib Benmoussa, when the latter was appointed ambassador of Morocco to Paris, said that in order to ensure success to the “New Development Model for the Southern Provinces,” the CESE held consultations with more than 1,500 local activists (politicians, entrepreneurs, trade unionists, civil society activists) to listen to their views on the new development model of the southern provinces and the means they recommend to implement it.

This is a great challenge that the kingdom is readying to take up much to the discontent of the opponents its territorial integrity.