Good things can come from Covid-19

In recent times, books1, 2 have had the merit; in particular, of analyzing from a new angle the conditions in which African countries have gained their independence. The authors are interested in the events of colonial liberation after the Second World War and show, among other things, that for the colonial empires, after having formed indigenous elites according to their concept, they thought the time had come to hand over the reins of power to local officials to continue on the path that has been traced for them. But for African activists, on the contrary, independence was achieved by hard struggle. The fact is that, with regard to economic and commercial exchanges, the ex-colonial empires have never ceased to enjoy until today considerable privileges in the very biased exchanges which bind our African countries to our ex-European colonizers. And this same situation has hindered so far the possibility for our countries to develop economic and commercial exchanges elsewhere on the planet. Seen from this angle, the independence of African countries in the fifties and sixties of the past century seems to have been truncated.

On the same subject, if it is admitted that after the Second World War the world underwent profound changes – International relations and exchanges had for the first time to be based on the respect of the rules of new organizations like the IMF, the WTO, the Codex Alimentarius and others – this change did not alter the essence of the commercial and economic ties between the European colonial empires and their ex-African colonies. The rules in question, which allow very asymmetrical exchanges between our African countries and European countries, have been regularly adapted by the EU but only in the spirit of perpetuating the privileges stemming from the colonial era. The word of our leaders, if there was one, was then inaudible or largely ignored. All the same, it must be said that, apart from equity, the European colonizers had no reason to modify “cooperative relations” with submissive countries which served the very interests of colonial Europe extremely well. On the contrary, they wanted by all means to preserve these economic and commercial privileges originally acquired by force in the relations they have continued to impose on us since the colonial era. Second, the EU has systematically sabotaged by one means or another any effort to challenge the asymmetrical foundations of the trade it maintains with our countries.

To this end, an ad hoc political strategy has been put in place with the CAP (Common Agricultural Policy) and the thousands of EU logorrheic standards as the salient elements of the system. This EU control on our wealth has been designed to withstand supposedly any hardship.

But, apparently, the appearance of the present pandemic (Covid-19), which is on the way to disrupt this entire ploy, was not part of the prudential analysis of the European governors.

First of all, since the appearance of the Covid-19 a few months ago, the whole world has observed that the usual rules of working of the European common market (free movement of goods and individuals), so much praised by the Gotha from the EU, are applied differently from country to country, or simply ignored. And the mismanagement is such that even the citizens of the member countries of the EU Bloc find it difficult to understand this disorder. More than that, African countries now seem, and this is a first, to do much better than the EU countries in terms of managing this pandemic crisis as well in terms of health (availability of masks and other sanitary equipment) or in terms of logistics and market supply (availability of sufficient food products at stable prices) or even in terms of purely security to enforce the state of emergency or public curfew. In this chapter, Morocco is commonly cited as an example to be followed by a number of French officials and European media. China, not the EU, has helped in this new perception.

On another side, according to the advice of the WHO and other reference organizations, the Covid-19 virus should be there for a long time. These organizations remind us that we must learn to “coexist” with this coronavirus not only because the presence of the pathogen will last for a long time, but also as preparation for our behavior to face other pandemics that will inevitably be part of our lifestyles in the future.

To overcome this type of scourge, the world needs successful experiences to take them as models to follow. In this respect, the European experience of management of the Covid-19, judged to be failing, does not come to anyone’s mind to constitute a model of success. Indeed, the number of deaths, compared to the size of the population, is the highest in the world as well as the number of infections and the number of hospital beds congested by the high rate of patients under stress respiratory. Conversely, the management of the pandemic by the Moroccan authorities has, by comparison, been much more effective. In short, Africa no longer needs to look elsewhere for the principles of efficiency, it has them within it.

That said, and considering the economic constraints, Europeans should in the near future lift the state of health emergency and containment. After which, many of them will likely want to return for their leisure stays with us that they love so much. If so, it will likely pose a health risk to residents in Morocco. Knowing that the realization of a vaccine against a virus, given the size of the molecule, is a complex process which takes a lot of time, in the case of SARS-Cov-2 (responsible for Covid-19) this will require in the best hypothesis months or years. Our officials in Morocco should then seriously consider subordinating the arrival of tourists from the Schengen Area to the production of a confirmed immune passport to protect us from possible additional infections.

Now if, according to this recipe, we are in a position to better guarantee the health security of Moroccans, limiting the arrival of Europeans in Morocco will have a negative impact on our export operations to these countries. We should therefore immediately think of alternatives to maintain our food export activities.

In this regard, as this Covid-19 pandemic has shown, food is more or less in short supply all over the world and we can help improve this shortage of supply. It’s true that nearby Europe, just on the other side of the Mediterranean is eager for our fresh vegetables and fruits which it buys from us at ridiculous prices. We must also realize that it will be more difficult for us to profitably market this type of fresh product in more distant markets in Asia and elsewhere. But if these vegetables and fruits were valued to make them commercially stable products, we could export them all over the world with much more profit. So, as the Moroccan state prepares to put its hand in the pocket to help the national companies to restart their productive activities, our competent authorities would be well advised to include among the eligibility criteria for the aid of the State the requirement for value-creation of fresh products right here in Morocco.

But let’s not forget that the absence of foreign visitors will also affect our tourism sector, the Hotel / Catering sector in particular. It may also be time to rethink the logic of working in this sector to bring in tourists from other regions of the world, America and Asia among others, who are less familiar with our country. One of the weaknesses, in our opinion, of the lack of attraction of our tourism sector to tourists outside of Europe is the lack of respect for the rules applied to this much globalized market. Indeed, tour operators (TOs) in North America and elsewhere have an aversion to reckless risk against which they cannot take out insurance to cover themselves in the event of contingencies. At the top of the list of risk elements to be controlled by insurance, there is the health hazard. However, insurance companies cannot accept to insure a TO in the absence of HACCP certification from the Hotel / Restaurant which will receive tourists. Our responsible officials should be aware that the development of Anglo-Saxon and Asian tourism is really dependent on the widespread implementation of health risk certification, the most prominent of which is HACCP certification.

In addition to HACCP certification and considering the current pandemic, it is now necessary to add additional certification against the risk of Covid- 19.

1) Robert Gildea. Empires of the Mind: The Colonial Past and the Politics of the Present. Cambridge University Press, 2019
2) Britain, France and the Decolonization of Africa: Future Imperfect? Edited by Andrew W.M. Smith and Chris Jeppesen