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Key findings
  • As of November 2015, few Moroccans see the AU and the Arab Maghreb Union as helpful to their country. About one in three citizens say the two organisations “do nothing” to help Morocco, while four in 10 say they “don’t know.”
  • Almost half (48%) of Moroccans say they find it “difficult” or “very difficult” to cross international borders.
  • Only four in 10 Moroccans (40%) say they think North Africans should be able to “move freely across international borders in order to trade or work in other countries,” well below the average of 56% across 36 surveyed countries.
  • Moroccans are less welcoming than most other Africans to people from different backgrounds. Significant minorities say they would “somewhat dislike” or “strongly dislike” living next-door to people of a different religion (33%), people of a different ethnicity (26%), and foreign workers and immigrants (33%) – about two to three times average levels of intolerance across surveyed countries.
  • Only one in five Moroccans (20%) say governments have a duty to try to prevent election or human-rights abuses in other countries – a lower level of support for regional intervention than across 36 surveyed countries (34%).

On January 31, 2017, the Kingdom of Morocco rejoined the African Union (AU) after a 33-year absence. The country had left the Organisation of African Unity in 1984 after the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) – to which Morocco lays claim – was acknowledged as an independent state and gained admittance to the continental body (Mohamed, 2017).

Rejoining the African Union comes with a commitment to help achieve the organisation’s objectives, including to “… accelerate the political and socio-economic integration of the continent” (African Union, 2002). This aim is again highlighted in the AU’s “Agenda 2063,” which states that “… the political unity of Africa will be the culmination of the integration process, including the free movement of people, the establishment of continental institutions, and full economic integration” (African Union, 2014).

In the wake of Morocco’s return to AU membership, we use Afrobarometer survey data to examine Moroccan attitudes toward regional integration and responsibilities. We find that as of November 2015, when the most recent data were collected, only a minority of Moroccans perceive the AU and the regional economic organisation, the Arab Maghreb Union (UMA), to be of much help to Morocco. Almost half of Moroccans report difficulties crossing borders, but support for freedom of cross-border movement is limited. Dislike of foreign workers is considerably higher in Morocco than on average across Africa, while support for regional intervention to protect democracy and prevent human-rights abuses is lower than the North African and African averages.

David Jacobs

David Jacobs is a former officer in the South African Navy and assistant director in the Western Cape Provincial Government in South Africa.

Thomas Isbell

Post-doctoral research fellow and research assistant at Afrobarometer