Rabat – It certainly took a while for outgoing and caretaker of government, Abdelilah Benkirane, to be accustomed to protocol. Many times he sent it to air by not carefully observing its strict rules.His replacement, Saad Eddine Othmani, is apparently not doing better. In a recent picture that went viral, the appointed Head of Government is seen wearing a pair of leather sandals that didn’t seem to go with his suit, during a meeting with prominent Palestinian figures.The picture prompted reactions from Moroccan social media users who joked about their Head of Government’s outfit. The incident comes just a few days after another photo of a major political figure, USFP leader Driss Lachgar, went viral. Lachgar appeared with a mis-buttoned jacket during a press conference alongside Othmani and other leaders of the governmental coalition.With Othmani Moroccans found another occasion to laugh at their politicians, saying that “judging by how these leaders looked, it is very clear the next government will be not much to look at either”.Was Mr Othmani just being himslef? or was he forced to wear a pair of sandals because of some sort of pain in his feet? or was he just not cereful to be seen with those sandals while everybody else in the picture was wearing a pair of shoes?So many questions whose answers might or might not give an excuse to the appointed Head of Government’ seemingly carelessness in choosing what to wear on his feet.
“The continent’s large and growing population represents enormous market potential, especially with growing urbanization contributing to rapid growth in consumption by households and businesses,” said Deputy Secretary-General Amina J. Mohammed in her keynote address to the event, titled ‘Regional and Economic Integration in Africa: How to Effectively Involve Africa’s Youth across National Borders.’ Yet, despite this potential, she continued, intra-African trade represents only about 13 per cent of Africa’s total trade. By building on market potential and promoting regional integration, African countries could reduce their dependency on the sale of primary commodities, and shift to value added products – creating employment, reducing inequalities, investing in sustainable infrastructure and ensuring sustainable economic growth. Establishing a Continental Free Trade Area, as agreed by the African Union in 2012, would be a major step in the right direction. “Once established, it would be the largest free trade area in the world with 54 member states – a single market of more than one billion people with a young and growing population,” she said. The transformative changes envisaged in Africa’s development vision, Agenda 2063, can only be realized if they are forged around stronger regional integration, she added. There are also encouraging success stories elsewhere.Today, regional blocks in South and Central America, Southeast Asia and China play a major role in global economy. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Free Trade Area was established in 1992 to eliminate trade and non-trade barriers and improve the Southeast Asia’s competitiveness. Consequently, intra-ASEAN trade more than doubled between 1995 and 2010, and kept increasing to reach around 24 per cent of global trade last year – and 40 per cent if trade with China is included. “We can achieve the same success in Africa,” Ms. Mohammed said. Africa has the fastest growing youth population in the world, with 60 per cent of its population under 24. Harnessing their capacity requires greater investments in education, especially in science and technology, to ensure a robust labour force capable of meeting the increasingly competitive demands of today’s globalized markets, she said. Noting that gender inequality is costing sub-Saharan Africa tens of billions a year, she stressed the need to truly integrate women into Africa’s economies towards creating a prosperous and vibrant Africa.