Morocco vs South Africa - The Rivalry and Cooperation between Morocco and South Africa: A Comprehensive Overview - 31/Jan/2024

Morocco vs South Africa – The Rivalry and Cooperation between Morocco and South Africa: A Comprehensive Overview – 31/Jan/2024

The Rivalry and Cooperation between Morocco and South Africa: A Comprehensive Overview

Morocco and South Africa, two prominent nations located on the African continent, have shared a dynamic and complicated relationship marked by both rivalry and cooperation. This multidimensional relationship encompasses various fields including diplomacy, economics, and even sports. This comprehensive article explores the historical context and current state of affairs between these two countries.

Historical Relations Between Morocco and South Africa

Morocco and South Africa have experienced different historical trajectories. While Morocco gained its independence from France in 1956, South Africa underwent a longer struggle against apartheid that culminated in democratic rule in 1994. During the apartheid era, Morocco showed support for the anti-apartheid movements, actively participating in the Organisation of African Unity’s efforts against the regime.

Diplomacy and Political Stances

The diplomatic relations between Morocco and South Africa have been influenced significantly by their respective positions on Western Sahara—a territory claimed by Morocco but where the Polisario Front has declared a Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, which is recognized by the African Union but not by the United Nations. South Africa recognizes this republic and has been one of its staunch supporters, much to the chagrin of Morocco. This schism in political views resulted in the absence of formal diplomatic ties between the two nations for many years, although there has been some improvement in recent times.

Economic Relations and Trade Expansion

Despite political disagreements, Morocco and South Africa understand the importance of economic partnership. They are among the largest economies in Africa, each with unique strategic advantages; Morocco as a gateway to Europe and South Africa as a powerhouse in the southern region of the continent. The two countries have shown interest in increasing trade and investment through bilateral agreements, diversifying their economies, encouraging entrepreneurial exchanges, and participating in joint economic ventures.

One notable venture includes Morocco’s phosphates leader OCP Group’s significant investments into the South African market. Another has been collaborative efforts within regional and multinational frameworks like the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AFCFTA), which could counterbalance some of their diplomatic tensions with economic pragmatism.

Sporting Encounters: A Symbol of Rivalry and Unity

In sports too, both countries express their soft power. Particularly in soccer – which operates as an unrivaled source of national pride – matches between Morocco’s national team, known as the Atlas Lions, and Bafana Bafana, South Africa’s team, attract intense interest from fans. These encounters often reflect the broader geopolitical undercurrents between nations but also offer opportunities for people-to-people contact that can foster unity and mutual respect.

Cultural Exchanges and Social Impact

Moroccan and South African societies might be geographically distant, but they are linked through tides of cultural interactions. There are various programs facilitating academic exchanges between universities; artists’ collaborations; as well as initiatives to enhance mutual understanding about distinct cultural heritages.

Environmental Sustainability Efforts

Both countries are regional leaders in terms of environmental sustainability efforts. Morocco’s investment in renewable energy projects such as the Noor Ouarzazate Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) plant is globally recognized. Similarly, South Africa’s efforts towards conservation through initiatives such as preserving its diverse biomes are noteworthy. These environmental actions highlight possible areas where both countries could share expertise to foster not just national but continental ecological development.


  • Morocco gained independence from France in 1956.
  • South Africa transitioned to full democracy after apartheid with Nelson Mandela as its first democratically elected President in 1994.
  • Both countries are among top economies on the African continent.
  • Since 2004, South Africa recognizes the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic which has impacted diplomatic relations with Morocco.
  • Morocco has invested heavily in renewable energy while South Africa focuses on its rich biodiversity conservation.
  • Image description

    An array of flags from both Morocco and South Africa planted diagonally opposite one another, set against a blue sky background to symbolize their ongoing diplomatic relationships. At an invisible seam where they come closest together rests a handshake icon highlighted underneath a banner with both countries’ names—the handshake signifies potential cooperation despite divergent viewpoints.