Nizar Baraka Details how “Advanced Regionalization” is Advancing Democracy in Morocco

Plan for the Sahara only the Beginning for Empowering All Moroccans

At a recent roundtable discussion in Washington, DC, The Honorable Nizar Baraka, former Minister of Finance and Economy, who serves as president of the Economic, Social, and Environmental Council (CESE) in Morocco, provided his analysis of the regionalization program being rolled out in Morocco, and how this is already changing the political space in the country.

Mr. Baraka began by reviewing the CESE process for developing the first study of “the South” (the Saharan provinces), which included public hearings with testimony from some 1500 people as well as dozens of studies prepared by experts, which resulted in recommendations for extensive restructuring of local government and a robust economic development strategy. He explained that what is being done in the South is the beginning of “advanced regionalization” for all of Morocco.

He believes this is part of the implementation of shared decision-making and devolution of power promised in the 2011 Constitution. Mr. Baraka emphasized that the credibility of regionalization will only become real when citizens participate in local decision-making that affects their daily lives.

For example, the Parliament (Chamber of Deputies) is currently debating bills that give Civil Society the capacity to submit proposals and petitions directly to Parliament.

There is great economic disparity among the regions in Morocco, he explained. For example, 52% of Morocco’s GDP is produced in four regions, while 53% of its doctors practice in two regions. Similarly, the rate of joblessness in the South is twice the national average. Baraka insists that the direct election of the region’s presidents (the highest locally elected officials), and the five-fold increase in budgets for regional development are strong incentives for citizens to be more involved in local affairs.

So the CESE efforts have focused on how the government can create an environment for greater political responsiveness, and part of this campaign is a new economic development model for the region based on public-private partnerships. This includes large-scale investments in diversifying the economy, a new university focused on local needs, particular attention to conservation, and positioning the Sahara as a gateway to sub-Saharan Africa.

Economic Diversity to Drive Economic Growth

The Sahara is well poised for economic growth. Its GDP is 60% higher than the national average, but some 30% of that is generated by government programs. So the strategy going forward is to deeply engage the private sector to increase investments and jobs. One critical target is to diversify the local economy while protecting the environment. The focus is on empowering individuals to more fully participate in the economy; for example, raising the rate of women in the workforce from a woeful 14% to at least the national average of 25%, and doubling the number of employed youth..

Sectors slated for diversification include fishing, aquaculture, value-added farming, renewable energies, downstream phosphate industries, and eco-tourism. Plans have been finalized for a local university focusing on the needs of the region, including professional development of medical personnel, educators, managers, and lawyers; tourism and hospitality; and research and development supporting local industries. Given that the South’s literacy rate is already 20% higher than the national average, targeted efforts to build on their capabilities through focused programs of higher education should reap short and long term benefits, in terms of jobs and meeting future employer needs.

Conserving the environment is also a prime consideration, especially well water, which is overused. Desalination, reuse of gray water, greater efficiency of energy utilization, treatment regulations for well water, a new dam, and a comprehensive campaign to preserve the eco-system in the Bay of Dakhla are the headline items in this effort.

Looking at both the supply side, which pushes the growth of the local economy, and the demand side, which is the pull of market needs, Africa is the obvious market. Building a new expressway from Agadir to Dakhla onwards to Mauritania and Senegal, high speed digital connectivity, expanded port facilities, and the export of solar power along an interconnected grid are all in the plans for the next 10 years. It is anticipated that 75% of the targeted $10 billion of investment will come from national government public-private sector partnerships, while the regional governments will contribute the remaining 25%. The goal of these efforts is to create 120,000 jobs and cut unemployment in half.

Mr. Baraka provided discussed other plans underway, which he believes will create a seismic shift in how citizens see their roles in relation to the government. Empowering proactive, engaged, and contributing citizens is the core mission of advanced regionalization, which will require a different mix of incentives in Morocco’s different regions. The most important impact, according to him, is that the political space in Morocco has changed forever. This is clear in viewing the evolving role of the media and civil society, debates in Parliament over legislative initiatives, and the pressure on political parties to restructure their governance to reflect issues and priorities. More importantly, advanced regionalization will continue this process and move Morocco towards its goal of a new social compact based on engagement and respect.

New Reports on Africa Highlight Areas of Opportunity and Obstacles to Growth

Ahead of US-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington, DC, August 5-6, Overall Picture Promising, Yet Challenges Continue

Several recent publications have put the challenging road to prosperity for Africa center stage. The most thorough assessment is in the 2014 Economic Outlook published by the African Development Bank (AfDB). It is comprehensive, covering all 54 African countries.

Every year, the publication revolves around a central theme. This year’s “Global Value Chains and Africa’s Industrialization” takes a hard look at how African economies need to move beyond exports of commodities and marginal agricultural and industrial sectors to meet growth targets. The report combines the overall theme with local data, sifting it through reports by multinational organizations and analysts to move beyond rhetoric to realism. Recommendations include praise for what has been done, and also what will accelerate progress towards each country’s largely self-defined goals.

Invest in Africa report 2014

AU – Invest in Africa 2014

Another publication is “Invest in Africa 2014,” supported by the African Union but published independently by News Desk Media. Unfortunately, Morocco is not a member of the AU; thus the report is missing data and narrative from the second largest investor in Africa. Also absent is an in-depth look at cross-border investment opportunities.

The AU report was previewed in a program at the US Chamber this week with remarks from the AU, US officials, and African Ambassadors to the US. Comments during the panel “Opportunities across the Continent” were striking in their similarity: From infrastructure and renewable energy to value-added agriculture and resource management, the key priorities were consistent from north to south, east to west.

In introducing the program, Ambassador Don Gips, who co-chairs the Africa Business Initiative at the Chamber, focused on the upcoming US-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington, DC August 5-6, which will include separate private-sector elements: a Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) meeting and a CEOs Forum. He said that the US goal is to increase US interest and investment in Africa. Yet, as a commentary issued by Brookings Institution pointed out, there are many challenges to a successful summit, especially the need for the African leaders to come with a unified, coherent agenda.

What Africa Needs and Wants

Peter Barlerin, Acting US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State highlighted several positive indicators for Africa, including its rapid growth rate and young human resources. He also noted challenges, such as dealing with jobs and youth employment within an inclusive growth strategy. Mr. Barlerin emphasized the critical importance of involving the private sector and taking advantage of Africa’s resources in agriculture.

Regarding negative perceptions of the continent, Olajobi Makinwa, Head of Transparency & Anti-Corruption Initiatives at the UN Global Compact, pointed out that government and stakeholders must confront gender and youth issues. She characterized government transparency regimes as “some good, some are bad, getting worse.” Ms. Makinwa said collaboration among public and private sectors and civil society is needed to support human rights and accountability.

Ambassador Girma Birru of Ethiopia began the conversation on investment opportunities, mentioning agriculture and food industries followed by infrastructure, including power and railways, and value-added manufacturing. Ambassador Steve Matenje of Malawi spoke about factoring in climate change in assessing the agriculture sector — gauging its effect on crop varieties and water management. Matenje also noted related opportunities in livestock and fisheries. Power and, especially, transportation linkages in roads, rail, and aviation are on his infrastructure list. Ambassador Matenje highlighted the importance of attracting young people to the huge potential in agriculture and paying close attention to gender inclusion.

Obama Speaks about Upcoming US-African Leaders Meeting

African Leaders to meet in US August 5-6, 2014

Ambassador Bockari Stevens of Sierra Leone repeated the need for transportation links among the countries in West Africa, along with added-value mining, attention to fisheries and airport management to meet growing demands, and opening new efforts in promoting financial services. Ambassador Daouda Diabaté of Côte d’Ivoire, chair of the African Ambassadors in the US, concluded the panel with comments related to the importance of peace and security for enabling economic growth, and the priority that West Africa is placing on highway linkages and greater economic integration. He restated the importance of utilizing the vast arable land resources of Africa to end the dichotomy of the co-existence of farmland and famine.
The Case for Morocco

Although the AU report does not include Morocco, the country’s economic progress is much more than a footnote to Africa’s development profile. While Morocco continues to work hard to meet its own Millennium Development Goals, its prognosis is largely positive, according to the AfDB report. “Overall, Morocco’s performance has been encouraging and benefited from a context of political and social stability.”

Morocco’s strongest asset for investors is that it is stable, has a reputable and functioning business infrastructure, and very good relations throughout the western half of Africa. On the macro-level, swings in Morocco’s GDP have been more a function of the disproportionate impact of poor harvests on the economy than systemic issues. And Morocco is moving to “spread the risks” by attracting greater investments in manufacturing, tourism, and service industries for a more balanced economy.

Morocco is also working to improve government efficiency and its effectiveness in attracting high value investments to generate high value jobs. Its trade balance continues to benefit from increases in exports of high-value products, although traditional sectors such as textiles suffer from poor consumer demand from Europe. Most importantly, based on the government’s agenda, Morocco knows where it needs to go. “Improvements to the support system for the private sector are needed and must still be implemented, in particular for land management, training, financing (especially for SMEs), and removal of bureaucratic red tape, as well as in the fight against corruption.” Recent initiatives such as the constitutionally mandated Economic, Social, and Environmental Council (CESE); Council on Higher Education, Training and Scientific Research; and the Competitiveness Council, made up of stakeholders, specialists, and government, underscore Morocco’s commitment to do it right.

Companies turning to Morocco to do business in Africa

Morocco is cited for strong business environment

The AfDB report is not the only external source to recognize Morocco’s continued progress as a home for global business. The Heritage Foundation’s 2013 Index of Economic Freedom report place Morocco ahead of Thailand, Indonesia, Russia, and Luxembourg based on the steps it has taken to date. Much more is expected of Morocco, and all indications are that it is ready to deliver a first-class business relationship, both as a destination for investment and as a hub for the region as a whole.

Investing in Natural Resources in the Western Sahara

How Morocco is Meeting International Standards for Resource Management

The most challenging decision facing companies interested in doing business the Western Sahara is gaining sufficient awareness of how external realities and internal facts on the ground affect the business environment in which they will be working. For the Western Sahara, this means that one must understand the overall milieu in Morocco, how this impacts the Sahara, and what, if any, special considerations affect potential operations in the south.

The Business Environment

When one takes a close look at what’s going on in Morocco, two large issues stand out: the need for jobs and the demand for transparency. Morocco has a young population whose education, job, and social needs must be met. But the government, which imports more than 95 percent of its energy needs and spends up to seven percent of GDP on subsidies for food, energy, and social services, does not have unlimited resources to stimulate job creation. This is, in fact, an opportunity for companies, which can play a key role in setting economic growth strategies through public-private partnerships (PPPs).

Local and international private sectors have much to offer. Their knowledge of global and local markets, the competition, and the costs of doing business affect everything from labor/employment/training priorities to what is needed from governments in terms of infrastructure and investment incentives. Morocco values PPPs because they bring technical expertise and funding to projects that might otherwise be delayed or never get off the ground.

With regard to the Western Sahara, business opportunities have been limited to date, despite claims by some of its extensive on and off shore resources. Without expanded infrastructure, robust development of existing and potential resources remains limited. The previous Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) compact in Morocco addressed some issues for ramping up the fishing industry but did not extend its work to the Sahara. It is hoped that the increased pace of exploration for gas and oil will encourage more companies—if outcomes are successful—to look at supply chains and value-added industries and services as viable prospects for doing business in the Western Sahara.

As importantly, Morocco knows what it has to do to reassure the international business community on issues of transparency. The joint declaration of principles concerning hydrocarbon exploration and production, proposed revision to labor statutes, overall judicial reforms, environmental codes, and related regulations, all demonstrate that Morocco is committed to best practices in terms of local consultation, empowering beneficiaries equitably, and protecting investments.

Fairness and Equity in Resource Management

Morocco has adopted a policy towards governing the Sahara and management of its resources that is serious, realistic, and credible. In 2006, it proposed autonomy for the region, the only fresh thinking to date on resolving the political conflict. Also, as part of the overall Moroccan reform process that started in the late 90s, the people of the Sahara fully participate in local and national elections, have their own representatives locally and in Parliament, and are included in national development programs such as the National Initiative for Human Development (INDH) and the Millennium Development Goals’ social, economic, and human development programs.

Title page of the CESE report

CESE Study which sets the model for Morocco in the Sahara

To develop a new regional model for sustainable development throughout the country, King Mohammed VI tasked the Economic, Social, and Environmental Council (CESE) to undertake extensive consultations with stakeholders in the south, and with analysts, experts, and researchers to draw up recommendations, which resulted in three key assessments:

Despite the expenditure of around $2.5 billion over the past decade, much more has to be done to achieve the vision of economic growth and robust local governance.

A new model and budget for sustainable and participatory development in the region is needed to build capacity for representative and effective local governance, economic and social growth—a model centered on a culture of human rights, honoring ethnic diversity, and treating all citizens equally.

The participatory democracy model must have at its core inputs of local stakeholders and potential beneficiaries for the use of local on- and off-shore natural resources. This commitment is already evident: in the EU-Morocco fisheries agreement, and Joint Declaration of Principles regarding energy exploration and production, both of which commit to returning benefits to the local population; in upgraded programs for supporting small- and medium-sized businesses; in market-linked training programs; and in the broad range of legislation to be enacted to implement the recommendations of the CESE report, budgeted at some $18 billion over the next 10 years.

Why Invest in the Sahara

As noted, not only has Morocco already invested some $2.5 billion in the infrastructure and social services in the Sahara, it is poised to spend $18 billion more in the next 10 years, whether or not oil and gas are found in commercial quantities. This means opportunities in light manufacturing, port and transport facilities, value-added fish and food processing, and infrastructure projects, among others.

The south of Morocco is part of the government’s substantial program of investments in renewable energies. This will generate a broad array of supply-chain opportunities for new businesses and services. To support this growth, the government hass in place specific training incentives to bring local hires up to market-ready standards.

Morocco banks on solar power

Solar Array in Morocco

In terms of managing the natural resources in the south, then, a key element is managing expectations about what is yet to be realized. Rathern than waiting to see what happens in the hydrocarbon sector, companies can look at what can be done within the broad parameters of recommendations from the CESE report. With Congress’ lifting of restrictions on US funding in the south as part of the 2014 Appropriations law, EX-IM Bank, OPIC, and other US agencies should be redefining their missions in the Sahara.

Ironically, several analysts have already opined that oil and gas discoveries in the Sahara may actually speed a peaceful resolution of the conflict in a win-win outcome. Under its commitment to benefit the local inhabitants and its adoption of the CESE recommendations, Morocco has made a credible case for ending the humanitarian crisis in the Tindouf camps by bringing the refugees home, and empowering the local population through the sustainable, participatory democracy envisioned in the CESE reports.

Morocco’s CESE Project: Regionalization empowering local populations

This is the second in a series on the Economic, Social and Environmental Council (CESE) project to produce a report “assessing effective access to basic human, economic, social, cultural and environmental rights in the southern provinces – laying the groundwork for regionalization in the south and throughout Morocco.

Morocco’s 2011 Constitution called for “regionalization,” or devolving administrative powers including budgets, hiring, taxation, municipal functions, and similar responsibilities to locally elected officials. It turns out that this approach is not a new idea for King Mohammed VI. One of his first actions upon ascending the throne in 1999 was to move forward with the partial devolution of political decision-making from the capital Rabat to the provincial governors, a program that had been announced in 1997. Although this was a partial reform to share decision-making between the government based in Rabat and the provincial governors, it was considered quite innovative, if only marginally successful due to delays in its implementation. It set a clear precedent and showed that the King had every intention to change how Morocco is governed.

A preferred modus operandi for the King is to reach consensus on contentious issues—such as the 2004 reform of the family law—through debate and consultation. In the same way, regionalization was put on the public agenda as early as 2006 with the resurrection of the Royal Advisory Council for Saharan Affairs (CORCAS), which was charged with coming up with a autonomy proposal for the Western Sahara built around decentralization. That was followed quickly by the Moroccan Autonomy Initiative in 2007, which called for decentralizing authority to the people and institutions of the Western Sahara to manage their own affairs while remaining under Moroccan sovereignty.

The next step was to further elaborate on the principles of decentralization. In a November 2008 speech, the King stated that the aim of decentralization is to “enable good local governance . . . respond more closely to the citizen’s needs, and boost integrated . . . development.” King Mohammed has been especially keen in multiple speeches to emphasize citizen participation in government, which reflects the need to engage communities in ongoing dialogue about managing how government is to serve the people.

In a November 2009 speech and then again in June 2010, the King indicated that the southern provinces will be the first region to experience the benefits of regionalization. In the Advisory Council’s final report in March 2011, decentralization was defined within the context of how institutions and responsibilities could be allocated in a new model of local government. All of this activity was superseded by King Mohammed’s March 9, 2011 speech, in which he announced the forming of a commission to draft a new constitution, and he made specific mention of decentralization as a key means of empowering the people.

As Youssef Ben-Meir, head of the High Atlas Foundation, wrote in 2010, regionalization/decentralization is more than institution-building or shifting responsibilities from one level of bureaucracy to another.  “… A range of important managerial capabilities must be developed among local public and private organizations through training, education, and experience. Successful decentralization programs build administrative capabilities of local government, civil organizations, and community groups, as well as their technical skills and capacities to apply participatory planning, resolve conflicts, and manage resources.”

While the 2011 Constitution may lay the groundwork for regionalization, and the Parliament may pass the enabling legislation taking into consideration the CESE report recommendations, an equally daunting yet more critical task is capacity-building for those who will be tasked on a daily basis with making regionalization work on the ground. That is the core challenge of decentralization and should be its most enduring legacy.

Morocco’s CESE Project: The Makings of Democracy

This is the third in a series of blog posts on Morocco’s Economic, Social, & Environmental Council (CESE) project to assess “effective access to basic human, economic, social, cultural & environmental rights in the southern provinces – laying the groundwork for regionalization in the south & throughout Morocco.”

For its 2013 International Day of Democracy—Sunday, September 15—the United Nations promoted the theme of “Strengthening Voices through Democracy,” to “shine a spotlight on the importance of people’s voices, both expressed directly and through their elected representatives, in today’s political, economic, social, developmental, environmental and technological debates.”

That’s exactly what Morocco’s regionalization plan wants to do.

Although consultation has long been a feature of King Mohammed VI’s strategy for building public support for major initiatives such as the family law and autonomy proposal, those were largely top-down plans. The Economic, Social, and Environmental Council (CESE) is taking a different vector: it starts from the testimonies of hundreds of Moroccans about very specific concerns that they have about every conceivable issue of governance—from environmental issues to gender equality and the role of state agencies in human and social development. These testimonies are then correlated with research studies that collect data on the issues and literally generate report cards on how the government is doing. Contrast this to the uncertain and often failed policy processes in other Arab countries and one begins to appreciate the forward-leaning approach embodied in this uniquely Moroccan synthesis.

CESE’s Commitment to Engaging the People

While there is much anticipation for the CESE mid-term report due shortly, the initial report gives clear indicators of where Morocco is headed on the issue of local governance and reform. The CESE team encourages improvement in civil dialogue (p.30), and speaks of the importance of building “trust among the populations of the southern regions and fostering confident ties between the populations in these regions and public institutions (p.32).” Recognizing the benefits of regionalization, the report notes, “This aspiration to participation [in local governance] should be leveraged in a positive manner by…addressing…citizens’ trust in the government’s ability to respect and guarantee their human rights (p.35).”

When addressing transparency in the consultation process, the report points out that “stakeholders information and consultation, and their participation in the design, achievement and evaluation of the objectives and policies pursued by an organization, whether public or private, is a lever for improving decision-making processes and for strengthening both the perception and exercise of democracy (p.132).” CESE emphasizes the role of civil society in the information-sharing process, noting that this “principle is enshrined in the Constitution (Article 156), which significantly strengthened the principles of representative and participatory democracy (p.132).”

Making Moroccan Regionalization—and Democracy—a Success

Knowing that democracy-building is an important priority for US foreign affairs, and that former Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, the current Secretary John Kerry and President Barack Obama have all shown a keen interest in Morocco’s progress, I spoke to a senior official at the International Republican Institute (IRI) to better understand how the US can support Morocco’s drive for democratic reforms.  I asked him how he would define “success” for regionalization and the CESE project.

He responded by breaking it out at the national, provincial, and local levels. At the national level, there has to be clear definition of the powers to be shared and how they are to be implemented and evaluated over time. At the provincial level, there must be a clear understanding of the roles of leaders such as the governor and agency heads so that they accept their responsibilities to the central government, to local officials, and to the citizens in their provinces. At the local level, encompassing locally elected municipal officials and local agency representatives, the concrete impact of regionalization must be monitored and officials held accountable for meeting the needs of the people.

The key, he believes, is setting in motion mechanisms for enabling citizens to fully participate in local decision-making. With its broad experience in promoting democracy and good governance, the US can provide Morocco with examples that have worked in other countries. Town meetings, consultations with civil society, and grassroots organizing are some of the means for engaging citizen groups and building trust. The bottom line is to continue to create trust between citizens and local officials, thus reinforcing support for social and economic development. Empowering citizens goes beyond statements to specific opportunities to run for local office, testify at council meetings, hold town meetings for engaging citizens and officials on issues such as the budget processes and program priorities, ensuring transparency on setting local ordinances, and similar outreach. All of these are elements of a recurring theme: capacity building for officials, civil society, and change agents at all three levels responsible for implementing regionalization.

So far, Morocco is getting it right…a transparent, consultative process among all stakeholders to build mutual respect and trust in a regionalization program that will vest responsibility and resources for local decisions in the affected communities. It is a revolution of real consequences for the entire region.

Morocco’s CESE project: Capacity building key for regionalization

In late 2012, the Economic, Social, and Environment Council (CESE) was charged by King Mohammed VI with assessing “effective access to basic human, economic, social, cultural, and environmental rights in the southern provinces.”It released its first report in March of this year. Another interim report is expected shortly, and by the end of 2013, the Council will complete a comprehensive assessment of the governance of Morocco’s southern provinces, which include the Western Sahara.

CESE is addressing five challenges: “boosting the economy; consolidating social cohesion and promoting culture; enhancing social inclusion and consolidating the fight against poverty; ensuring effective protection of the environment and sustainable territorial development; and defining responsible, inclusive governance.”

Morocco has done something unique in that it has instituted reforms from above rather successfully through gradual but serious steps.

The importance of the CESE project cannot be overstated. At a time when governments in the region are in turmoil over defining constitutional powers, mechanisms for decision-making, and embracing principles of governance, Morocco is an example of a path that can be taken through the shared commitment of a country’s leadership and its citizens. Once again King Mohammed is pushing a major policy shift by encouraging debate and consultation among all stakeholders, including the opposition, to learn from the past so that Morocco’s strategies are firmly grounded in what Moroccans value.

This is the same thinking that led to the Human Development Report, which evaluated the first 50 years of Morocco’s development after it regained full independence in 1956. Based on its recommendations, King Mohammed undertook the National Initiative for Human Development (INDH), a multi-billion dollar effort that is the country’s cornerstone program to reduce poverty, end the marginalization of target populations, and promote sustainable economic development.

The CESE project has the same ground-breaking implications, since the King has made it clear its recommendations will result in guidelines for the regionalization strategy to devolve political and economic decision-making power to locally elected officials. As a colleague recently remarked to me, “Morocco has done something unique in that it has instituted reforms from above rather successfully through gradual but serious steps.” To complement this approach, the King is now focusing on capacity-building at the local levels to prepare the country for regionalization, and the CESE is the point of the spear.

What the CESE is doing and saying

In its initial report in March 2013, the CESE provided extensive coverage of the more than 50 meetings it held in the south, hearing testimony from more than 1,000 stakeholders representing “local elected officials, representatives of professional chambers, business leaders, trade union representatives, chiefs of external branch offices, and representatives of dozens of civil society organizations involved in human and social rights.”

In addition, extensive research on human development indicators is being collected and analyzed to determine the performance of government programs in the southern regions. These meetings are supported by a CESE citizens’ web-based forum called Al Moubadara Lakum to gather studies, recommendations, projects, analyses, and ideas about the “format of the new development model for the southern provinces.” In addition, CESE has called for proposals from researchers and doctoral students in fields related to this project.

To any objective observer, the report included criticism of the government as well as praise. Progress in health, education, and basic services was contrasted with deficient public administration, the predominance of security considerations in the approach to political rights, and the ineffective engagement of civil society. A key observation by the CESE team is that “among other shortcomings and limitations to address is a wake-up call for a change in the mindset, behaviors, and habits of policymakers and elites in charge of ensuring the development of the southern provinces.”

This calls for a progressive outlook of incremental change that mirrors the King’s proposed new relationship for governance. The report includes strong statements on human rights with specific references to seminal UN documents and the 2011 Constitution regarding the protection and pre-eminence of human and civil rights. In one salient statement, the report notes that, “Underpinning the expectations in the south in terms of social well-being, the realization and exercise of freedoms, and transparent, responsible attitudes by government authorities and their representatives is an aspiration for the advent of a mature civil society which is recognized and empowered to run local affairs.”

The CESE will release policy recommendations in the final report later this year, and its intentions are clear: to chart a path for Morocco’s regionalization that is based on a reformulated partnership among the people, the government, and the King. This is the legacy the King is committed to, and he will continue to take steps to ensure its achievement.