Morocco-Nigeria PartnershipFor more than two decades, Morocco has worked to build partnerships with sub-Saharan African countries. The country is increasing its cooperation with several African countries to improve the bonds of unity on the African continent. A robust Morocco-Nigeria partnership is enhancing the economies of both countries.

Pipeline Gas Partnership

The Morocco-Nigeria partnership is taking another step forward, this time cooperating on a major gas pipeline that the king of Morocco and the president of Nigeria first discussed back in 2016. Nigeria’s gas will contribute to developing economies in much of the sub-Saharan African region. In addition, it will stimulate the growth and interconnectedness of the West African energy market.

Studies have demonstrated the economic viability of the pipeline project, which could draw attention from giant multinational energy companies. The pipeline also represents an important portion of Morocco’s recent investment in sub-Saharan Africa after the country rejoined the African Union in 2017.

The gas pipeline will ultimately link Nigerian gas to “every coastal country in West Africa.” These countries consist of “Togo, Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Gambia, Senegal and Mauritania.” The pipeline will end in Tangiers, Morocco and Cádiz, Spain. The pipeline will be 3,517 miles long. The construction will be divided into multiple phases and will take around 25 years to complete.

Agricultural Partnership

The Morocco-Nigeria partnership exceeded expectations after the two countries agreed to launch a new agricultural project. The Moroccan OCP Group, a state-owned mining and fertilizer producer, will establish a fertilizer factory in Nigeria amounting to $1.3 billion. Several key facts outline the agricultural partnership.

  • The project was launched in June 2018 and the factory is anticipated to open its doors in 2024.
  • Utilizing Nigerian gas and Moroccan phosphate, the factory will produce 750,000 tons of ammonia annually by 2025.
  • Similarly, the factory will manufacture one million tons of phosphate fertilizers a year by 2025.
  • Affordable and customized fertilizer aims to improve agriculture in Nigeria in order to improve food security.
  • The OCP Group will offer agricultural training to Nigerian farmers and encourage digitalization in farming.

Finance Partnership

The Morocco-Nigeria partnership is also helping banks from both countries expand in the region. The Nigerian Bank of Africa (UBA) and Morocco’s Attijariwafa Bank signed an agreement in 2016 to reinforce their cooperation in banking, finance, investment and trade. Both the Nigerian president and the Moroccan king were present at the signing as well as the CEOs of both banks.

The UBA exists in 19 African countries, making it one of the most dominant banks in Africa. The agreement covers finance projects, trade and investment between the two countries. The Nigerian UBA Chairman Tony Elumelu said, “This collaborative effort is a historical milestone.” He added, “We see huge potential in bringing our collective expertise in banking to provide Africa-led solutions to the needs of Africans.”

Security Partnership

In terms of security and fighting terrorism in the region, Morocco cooperates with the Community of Sahel-Saharan States (CEN-SAD) in Nigeria. In April 2021, high-profile representatives from Morocco met with CEN-SAD in Nigeria to talk about different plans to fight terrorism. The three-day gathering focused mainly on the progress CEN-SAD had accomplished in fighting terrorist groups.

The two parties also shared their expertise for future collaborative exercises and proposed new approaches for areas damaged by terrorism. The Moroccan representative party presented counterterrorism methods that Morocco has recently applied in its own region. The two parties also discussed forming a state-run entity to advance the collaboration between Morocco “and the members of the region’s counterterrorism operations.”

The Morocco-Nigeria partnership illustrates the strength in collaboration and cooperation between countries. With more countries coming together for mutual benefit, the power of partnership can advance progress on global issues.

– Zineb Williams
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts About Child Labor in The Gambia
The Gambia is not only the smallest country in mainland Africa, but it also continues to be among the poorest. Today, 48 percent of its population of 2.1 million live below the poverty line. One of the many manifestations of the country’s high poverty rate is the prevalence of child labor. These 10 facts about child labor in The Gambia provide a deeper background on the issue.

10 Facts About Child Labor in The Gambia

  1. The Gambia has a young population. Approximately 63 percent of Gambians are under the age of 25, and the median age is 17. About 95 percent of child laborers work in the agriculture sector, but in the capital city, Banjul, it is common to see children under 14 begging, washing cars, selling food, selling newspapers and repairing bicycles. Many of these children are orphans or lack parental care, but others have parents who sent them to trade in the street. Even though 20 percent of children in The Gambia are employed today, this represents a significant improvement from 36 percent in 2013.

  2. Child labor deprives the population of higher education. Gambian law makes the first six years of primary school free and mandatory, and the primary school completion rate is at 70 percent. In 2017, the government participated in the READ (Results for Education Achievement and Development) project funded by the World Bank which improved the quality of basic education in Gambian schools. However, most child laborers between ages 5 and 14 both work and attend school, which hinders their learning experience. Many child workers drop out after primary school or never attend school at all. Many Gambians who have not participated in formal schooling think of it as a waste of time that could be better spent making money for the family’s survival.

  3. The legal working age of The Gambia is 16. For hazardous jobs, it is age 18. Yet, children often have to work to support their families’ income, and the government rarely conducts inspections. Boys in urban areas work as shoe-shiners or street-sweepers and some undertake more hazardous jobs, like hauling heavy objects, that could lead to future health problems. Girls commonly work in domestic service, or as street vendors selling fruit, water or candy. Both girls and boys in rural areas work on farms. Children between the ages of 14 and 16 commonly work in physical-labor industries like lumbering, sewing, brick-making or masonry, often for exhausting hours in unethical or unsafe conditions.

  4. Forced child marriage often translates into child labor. As of 2016, the legal age of marriage in The Gambia is 18. However, poverty incentivizes families to follow the cultural tradition of early marriage. Families sell about 30 percent of girls under 18 into marriage in exchange for livestock and other material goods that can help their families. About 9 percent become married before age 15. Child brides come from poor families in rural areas with little or no formal education, and they generally begin working in harsh conditions in industries such as agriculture.

  5. Child labor can lead to human trafficking. Child laborers in The Gambia are vulnerable to exploitation, including child prostitution, child pornography and sex tourism. Sexual exploitation in schools was once widespread but has significantly diminished thanks to the work of organizations like the National Agency Against Trafficking in Persons. But cases of teachers forcing into students, especially girls, into sexual acts in exchange for compensation still exist today.

  6. There has been a recent resurgence of female genital mutilation in The Gambia. FGM causes serious medical consequences for women and girls. Since females usually receive FGM before puberty, female child laborers can suffer even more dangerous effects. The Gambia’s government outlawed FGM in 2015. But with the return of democracy to the country, many are returning to this tradition of female circumcision that is still a significant part of Gambian society. The harmful practice is especially prevalent in rural regions, like Basse, where 96 percent of between the ages of 15 and 49 have undergone FGM. Organizations such as UNICEF and 28 Too Many are working to eradicate FGM in the country.

  7. The Gambia is a popular destination for refugees and immigrants escaping conflict in neighboring countries like Senegal. This leads to a greater risk of unaccompanied children in the country, who are vulnerable to forced labor and other forms of abuse. Evidence shows that traffickers traffick children to and from adjacent countries for commercial or sexual exploitation.

  8. In 2016 and 2017, The Gambia’s government made efforts to address the problem of child labor by launching policies designed to target the “worst forms of child labor.” The government created agencies responsible for enforcing these laws relating to child labor, including the Child Protection Alliance, The Gambia Police Force Child Welfare Unit and the Department of Social Welfare. The Gambia Tourism Board and the Tourism Security Unit combat sexual exploitation of children by preventing unaccompanied children from entering tourist areas. The National Agency Against Trafficking in Persons investigates child trafficking cases. Neighborhood watch groups and child protection committees have formed to monitor urban areas and report cases of child labor to the police.

  9. The International Labor Organization, (ILO) has helped pass acts of legislation aimed at reducing child labor in The Gambia. Efforts include the Anti-Trafficking In Persons Act in 2007, the Children’s Act in 2005 and the Children’s Court Rules Act of 2010. In 2010, the ILO facilitated the Decent Work Country Programme for The Gambia, collaborating with the Government of The Gambia and its social partners. The program included training workshops that covered the rights of workers, social protection, and social dialogue, with the overall goal of implementing a system of decent work for expanding the economy and reducing poverty.

  10. UNICEF has been working closely with the Gambian government to eliminate child labor and other abuses of children’s rights. UNICEF aided the enactment of the Children’s Act legislation that stemmed originally from the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of a Child in 1990. In 2013, UNICEF supported the world’s first national child protection system mapping and assessment, which included introducing a juvenile justice training for police and making children’s courts more child-friendly. UNICEF’s other work in The Gambia includes an FGM Plan of Action, a Gender-Based Violence Plan of Action and a communication strategy program to combat wife-beating.

The above 10 facts about child labor in The Gambia show both the progress made and the need for more action to solve this complex problem. With the help of foreign aid and the aforementioned nonprofit organizations, the Gambian government will continue to search for solutions to ending child labor.

Sarah Newgarden
Photo: Flickr