King Mohammed VI has worked tirelessly to make Morocco an increasingly important economic and diplomatic actor in sub-Saharan Africa, taking long trips across the continent flanked by an entourage of Moroccan business representatives.  

As testament to Morocco’s growing economic and diplomatic influence in Africa, the country was swiftly re-admitted to the African Union (AU) in January 2017 within six months of applying. Morocco had previously pulled out of the AU’s predecessor, the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), in 1984 after the body recognised the independence of the disputed territory of Western Sahara. A consequential application to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) then represented the country’s next step in its attempt to secure a strong position as a regional leader in West Africa (no final decision has yet been made).

Over the past ten years Morocco's trade with sub-Saharan Africa has grown at an average annual rate of around 9% – admittedly from a low base. But by 2016 Morocco was benefitting from a MAD 11.9 billion (US $1.2 billion) trade surplus as opposed to just MAD 1.3 billion in 2008 (maroc.ma, 10.07.2017).

The investment statistics are, however, more impressive; by 2017, Morocco was recognised as the largest African investor on the continent behind South Africa. Moroccan investment has expanded beyond its more established presence in Francophone West Africa (where Morocco is the biggest African investor) to countries in central and east Africa (GRI, 26.5.2017).