On the first full day of his presidency, Dr William Ruto said that relations with the Kingdom of Morocco will be “speeded up in areas of trade, agriculture, health, tourism, energy, among others, for the mutual benefit of our countries.”
This was mid-week after a meeting with the Foreign Minister of the Maroc Nasser Bourita, during which the new Kenyan leader indicated that the United Nations framework is the exclusive mechanism for dispute resolution over any territorial issues, such as Morocco faces in its southern Saharawi province.
This coming week, President Ruto has also promised that the price of fertilizer will drop from Ksh6,100 a bag to Ksh3,600, which is a whopping 40% drop as 1.4 million bags of fertiliser will be brought in mostly from Morocco.
The Maroc is the hugest producer of fertilizer on the continent.
The Moroccan company OCP (Office Chérifien des Phosphates), is the world’s leading manufacturer of phosphate-based fertilisers, with a third of the world market (and over $ 6 billion in revenue in 2021).
“Long term, to use a practical example if the new president wishes to establish lower fertilizer prices for farmers without subsidies and other unsustainable mid-to-long term measures as were being previously done with oil/gas under the previous regime,” a Counsellor Delegate to the United Nations Office who is privy to these trade discussions said, “he may wish to get Kenya into intra-trade with a company like OCP (Office Chérifien des Phosphates), which means the foreign policies of both countries have to be aligned in a friendly axis for mutual benefit of Kenya and Maroc.”
Last Monday at a thanksgiving service in Maua, Meru, then president-elect Ruto did promise that he would announce new maize flour and fertliser prices this week, and with the usual swiftness that has become his hallmark, real-politik dictates a rapprochement with Morocco on the fertilizer litmus test.
“I have spoken to representatives from the Ministry of Agriculture to announce new fertilizer prices,” President Ruto said. “We start the journey of reforming the agricultural sector next week (this week) so that we can change the cost of living in Kenya.”
Communique reveals that talks on fertilizer trade, cost, import and investment are an ongoing conversation between the two nations and the new president seems eager to hit the ground running on agriculture, having also curtly promised to deal with the khat cartels that control the movement of miraa in Meru, even as he vowed to do away with ‘burdensome’ coffer-draining food and fuel subsidies.
In 2017 after the Republic of Nigeria and the Kingdom of Morocco entered a long-term trade deal on fertilizer prices, the price per bag went down from the equivalent of Ksh5,000 to Ksh1,700 per bag.
“Kenya is strategically placing itself, especially in this (bottom-up/farmer) regime for business across Africa,” says Dr Hawa Z. Noor, a peace and security analyst for the Horn of Africa. “That’s the way.”
Twenty African Heads of State attended President William Ruto’s inauguration in Kasarani on Tuesday.
Morocco, over the last twenty years, has become the number one direct African investor in West Africa, contributing 4% of Cameroon’s GDP, and a whopping 9% of the GDP of its neighbour Senegal.
Through its ‘South-South’ policy, the Kingdom is now strategically looking at Kenya as an excellent ‘nation of mutual trade cooperation, especially in areas of agriculture, health and tourism.’ In the next few years, the tea-drinking Kingdom would like to ‘gobble up Kenyan tea’ as per a representative.
Morocco is the eighth largest importer of tea in the whole world at USD 200 million, while Kenya is the third largest exporter at USD 1.2 billion, which means one-sixth of all our tea could go to Maroc alone.
The African-markets.com, the respected tracking digital platform, had Morocco at the end of 2021 with eight of the 52 country continent’s most valuable companies within its sovereignty.
In 2016, The International Finance Corporation, IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, and Attijariwafa Bank (AWB), a renowned pan -African banking group, signed an agreement to support businesses and boost investment and cross-border trade in Africa.
“IFC and AWB have agreed to jointly study investment projects in North Africa and sub-Saharan Africa,” says a diplomatic source. “The partnership focuses on supporting trade and investment between the two regions in order to strengthen trade between African countries.”
“In addition, the two parties undertook to cooperate in corporate and investment banking, project financing, as well as risk-sharing instruments. The agreement also provides for IFC and AWB to support companies in Morocco and Africa, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), to enable them to access the financing and training services they need to ensure their development.”