David S. Bloom
August 23, 2017
Many people already know that Morocco was the first country to recognize the United States, on December 20, 1777, while it was still in the throes of the revolutionary war. Less well known is the fact that this act of recognition was but a small chapter in the long and complicated story of one of America’s first global entanglements–which ultimately led to the birth of the US Navy. As the fledgling United States tried to cope with complicated relations with the European powers, it also had to contend with Mediterranean pirates from Africa’s northern coast as it attempted to emerge as a prominent global trader—a conflict that eventually led to the Barbary wars.
State-supported piracy was rife along Africa’s northern coast and many European powers found it expedient to simply pay tribute to the Barbary States (which included political entities based in modern-day Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya) rather than commit military resources to protect their ships. Before independence, vessels from the colonial states were protected by British treaties with the Barbary States and by the British navy.
After the US became independent, however, “British diplomats were quick to inform the Barbary States that US ships were open to attack,” and warships from Algiers were “encouraged” to seize American merchant ships and hold their crews hostage. These attacks were meant to elicit negotiations and eventual tribute payments from the US, which quickly established a commission—led by Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson—to negotiate treaties with Morocco, Algiers, Tunis, and Tripoli.
Meanwhile, the Emperor of Morocco, Sidi Mohammed had “learned about the American colonies’ struggle for independence through the French consul assigned to Morocco and via European newspapers.” He is said to have admired their success in fighting the British, whom he reportedly disliked, and on December 20, 1777, he included them on a list of countries welcome in Moroccan ports and thereby recognizing the newly independent United States as a sovereign country. The US was slow to respond to this overture, however, as it was busy fighting its revolutionary war and devoting its foreign efforts to finding support from the major European powers.
It wasn’t until 1787 that the US and Morocco negotiated a rare treaty that obligated no US tribute payments. At the end of 1789, President George Washington penned a letter to the Emperor of Morocco, which he called “our great and magnanimous Friend,” to express thanks for Morocco’s successful engagement with the US:
“The Encouragement which your Majesty has been pleased, generously, to give to our Commerce with your Dominions; the Punctuality with which you have caused the Treaty with us to be observed…make a deep Impression on the United States, and confirm their Respect for, and Attachment to your Imperial Majesty.”
The rest of the Barbary Coast, however, proved to be much more hostile. In 1786, John Adams was becoming frustrated with his negotiations with Algiers, as Algiers was not as understanding as Morocco of the US’s financial difficulties. Adams was disturbed that the US needed to devote resources to forging peace with a country it hadn’t even been involved with, and that paying the requested tribute would have required fresh loans from Holland.
After several years of failure to complete treaties with Algiers and Tripoli—or to secure lasting protection from European powers—the US began to consider creating a naval force to protect US commerce, a subject which had been controversial at the time. Secretary of War Henry Knox eventually called for building a navy specifically to punish the Barbary States. In 1794, Congress passed the Act to Provide Naval Armament, legislating the building of six frigates. Still, a stipulation required that construction be halted upon approval of a peace treaty with Algiers, demonstrating the limited scope of this new naval force in the eyes of the US Government.
Despite this limited intent, the construction and development of the US Navy, spurred by these complicated entanglements in North Africa, put the US in a much better position for its later naval battles. These conflicts demonstrated to the hesitant US Government that a standing Navy was a necessity and prepared it for the larger battles to come. Besides the Barbary Wars, the nascent US Navy would clash with France in the Quasi-War (where it engaged French forces in the Caribbean from 1798-1800), and of course with England in the War of 1812. By then, the US Navy was well on its way to becoming a preeminent force on the seas, having honed its skills in the Mediterranean and built three world-class frigates (the USS Constitution, President, and United States).
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Morocco will celebrate Eid Al Adha (the Festival of Sacrifice) on September 1st, which coincides with the 10th day of the Islamic month of Dhu Hijja, the ministry of endowments and Islamic Affairs said.
In a statement, the ministry in charge of sighting the crescent said that the month of Dhu Hijja of hegira year 1438 was sighted on Tuesday (Aug. 22) and consequently Eid Adha will be celebrated on Dhu Hijja 10 corresponding to Sept. 1, 2017.
Eid Al Adha signals the completion of the Hajj (pilgrimage), the fifth pillar of Islam.
MAP 22 August 2017
Some 225,351 Moroccans were affiliated to social security in Spain by the end of July compared to 230,470 by the end of June, according to official figures issued on Tuesday.
Moroccans rank first among foreign non-EU workers affiliated to social security in Spain, followed by the Chinese (99,912 people) and Ecuadorans (72,358), the Spanish ministry of Labor and Social Security said in a statement.
Morocco’s Accession to Ecowas will Enable the Kingdom to Fulfill its Role as a Bridge between Africa & Europe: German Expert
As an ECOWAS member, Morocco would be better able to fulfill its desired role as a bridge between Africa and Europe, Christoph Kannengießer, the chief executive officer of the German-African Business Association, said, adding that it is "a win-win situation."
"ECOWAS will not be weakened by an economically strong country such as Morocco, and as an ECOWAS member, Morocco would be better able to fulfill its desired role as a bridge between Africa and Europe," Germany's public international broadcaster Deutsche Welle (DW) reported in an article published on its website.
Washington, DC, August 21, 2017 (MACP) – In a speech to the nation on Sunday, King Mohammed VI reaffirmed Morocco’s commitment to Africa as a top priority. The speech marked the 64th anniversary of the King and People’s Revolution Day, which commemorates the exile of Morocco’s Sultan Sidi Mohammed ben Yusef by French colonial powers – a move that proved to be a turning point in Moroccan’s mobilization for independence.
“Thanks to its spontaneous popular character, and the values of sacrifice and loyalty underpinning it, it inspired liberation movements in the Maghreb and across Africa,” said the King. “It also increased awareness of the destiny Morocco shares with the rest of the African continent, as reflected by the common struggle for freedom and independence.”
King Mohammed VI outlined his country’s long history of participation in African initiatives and organizations, most recently Morocco’s return to the African Union this year, and the agreement in principle to Morocco’s request to join the Economic Commission of West African States (ECOWAS).
“Morocco’s commitment to – and interest in – Africa are by no means a coincidence; nor are they the result of transient considerations,” said the King, who has made more than 50 visits to over 29 African countries, 14 of them since October 2016. “They reflect a sense of loyalty to a shared history and illustrate our firm belief that ours is a common destiny.”
The King noted that Morocco’s Africa policy has directly and positively impacted consideration of the Western Sahara at the African Union and therefore revived the United Nations process to examine the issue with a focus on realism and use Morocco’s autonomy proposal as a framework for discussion, as confirmed by the most recent UN Secretary General report and the Security Council resolution adopted last April.
“Whereas 2016 was the year of resolve and intransigence,” said the King, “2017 has been the year of clarity and of a return to the standards and principles for the settlement of the artificial dispute over the Moroccan-ness of the Sahara. This firm, unambiguous policy has helped put the process back on the right track…be it in terms of commitment to the frame of reference for a settlement, the appreciation of the autonomy proposal as a negotiating framework, or the determination of the legal and political responsibilities of the real party concerned in this regional dispute.”
Under the Clinton, Bush, and Obama Administrations, and with broad bipartisan support in the US Congress, US policy has continued to support resolving the conflict based on a formula of autonomy under Moroccan sovereignty. Both Congress and the Bush and Obama Administrations have also repeatedly called Morocco’s Autonomy Initiative “serious, realistic, and credible.”
“King Mohammed VI clearly understands the power of Africa and is wisely preparing his African country to help make the next great era an African century,” said former US Ambassador to Morocco Edward M. Gabriel. “His decision is based on the long term strategic interests of Morocco and its commitment to the African continent, and not for short term gain.”
The Moroccan American Center for Policy (MACP) is a non-profit organization whose principal mission is to inform opinion makers, government officials, and interested publics in the United States about political and social developments in Morocco and the role being played by the Kingdom of Morocco in broader strategic developments in North Africa, the Mediterranean, and the Middle East.
This material is distributed by the Moroccan American Center for Policy on behalf of the Government of Morocco. Additional information is available at the Department of Justice in Washington, DC.
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Morocco's net international reserves amounted to 209.9 billion dirhams until August 11, 2017, recording a 13.5% year-on-year decrease, Bank Al-Maghrib said.
The reserves recorded a 2.3 % weekly increase, the central bank pointed out in its weekly indicators.
During the week of August 10-16, Bank Al-Maghrib injected 66 billion dirhams.
As for the interbank rate, it remained at 2.3%, while the average trading volume remained unchanged at 3.5 billion dirhams, the source added.
Chairperson of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Theresia Degener underlined that Morocco is fully committed to promoting the rights of special needs people.
The UN official was speaking within the framework of Morocco's first interactive dialogue with the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, related to implementing the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, that took place in Geneva on Thursday.
Speaker of the House of Representatives (lower house) Habib El Malki was granted an audience by Rwandan president Paul Kagame, who was re-elected for a third mandate on Aug. 4, 2017.
During the audience, a day after the inauguration ceremony of the Rwandan head of state, El Malki extended to Kagame HM King Mohammed VI's heartfelt congratulations and wishes of full success in his mission to contribute to the prosperity of the brotherly Rwandan people, said a statement by the house.
August 20 is the day Morocco marks Revolution of the King and People Day, commemorating the 1953 exile by the French colonial authorities of King Mohammed VI’s grandfather, King Mohammed V. The exile is considered the beginning of the modern independence struggle that was successful in restoring Moroccan independence in 1956.
The King chose to focus in this year’s speech on Morocco’s history in Africa, and its commitment to the continent and its future. He noted that beyond the “common struggle for freedom and independence” at that time, today, “The aim is to achieve the shared development and prosperity all African peoples are yearning for.”
This theme of solidarity and shared future has been a consistent focus of the King’s economic and diplomatic outreach on the continent, based on a strong belief that Africa must be in control of its destiny and act for all its peoples. He insisted that Morocco’s commitments “Reflect a sense of loyalty to a shared history and illustrate our firm belief that ours is a common destiny. They are the result of profound, realistic reflection which is itself governed by a long-term, strategic vision and a gradual, consensual approach.”
King Mohammed VI has proactively demonstrated Morocco’s commitment to Africa “Substantiated by more than fifty visits to over 29 countries – 14 of which I have visited since October 2016. That policy is also aimed at serving shared interests through solidarity-based, win-win partnerships.” Morocco has signed hundreds of economic, technical, and cultural agreements with its Africa counterparts, supports thousands of sub-Saharan Africa students in Moroccan universities, and has provided humanitarian and peace-keeping support in times of crisis and upheaval.
A key result of these efforts has been “Morocco’s return to the African Union and…the agreement in principle to Morocco’s request to join the Economic Commission of West African States.” No small feat, considering the “obstacles thrown in our way…This achievement attests to our African brothers’ and sisters’ perception of Morocco as a credible player – one whom they hold in high esteem.”
The King’s personal commitment to Africa has been mirrored in the growing network of institutional, organizational, and business ties between Morocco and other African states. He is greatly concerned with the “continent’s progress and the services provided to African citizens,” and emphatically noted, “We are currently in the process of building an Africa that believes in itself, is committed to solidarity and rallies behind concrete projects while being open to its surroundings.” This emphasis on ”concrete projects” reflects many initiatives in Africa over the last 15 years, ranging from agricultural programs and transportation infrastructure, health, and educational facilities, to financial and technical assistance agreements, among others.
The King clearly delineated the nature of Morocco’s long-term presence in Africa. “I have opted for a policy based on solidarity and for balanced partnerships grounded in mutual respect and the fulfilment of African peoples’ shared interests. Morocco has never engaged in influence peddling. Instead, it has opted to put its expertise and know-how at the disposal of its African brothers and sisters. Money comes and goes, unlike knowledge and skills; it is these that help meet people’s needs.”
Regarding the Western Sahara conflict, which remains controversial with some African neighbors, the King noted that “International support for the autonomy proposal has continued, as illustrated by the growing number of states which have withdrawn their recognition of the fictional entity and by the legal settlement concerning Morocco’s economic partnership with a number of influential powers.”
From his speech, it is clear that King Mohammed VI has a comprehensive and strategic vision for Morocco in Africa; and he has worked hard to make it a reality. It is based on a shared destiny, common struggle, mutually beneficial relationships, and shared values and principles that will best serve the people of Morocco and Africa and the progress of the continent.
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On August 20, 2017, Morocco’s King Mohammed VI addressed the following speech to the nation on the occasion of the 64th anniversary of the Revolution of the King and the People:
The Revolution of the King and the people, the 64th anniversary of which we are celebrating this year, is more than a national, epic event which brought together a valiant king and a resolute people, seeking Morocco’s independence and the reinstatement of its legitimate leader.
It is a bright chapter in the life of the nation. Its impact and influence reached far beyond the country’s borders and deep into Africa.
Thanks to its spontaneous, popular character, and the values of sacrifice and loyalty underpinning it, it inspired liberation movements in the Maghreb and across Africa.
It also increased awareness of the destiny Morocco shares with the rest of the African continent, as reflected by the common struggle for freedom and independence and, later on, by the founding of independent African states committed to respecting state sovereignty as well as the countries’ national unity and territorial integrity.
This solidarity-based endeavor is continuing today. The aim is to achieve the shared development and prosperity all African peoples are yearning for.
Given the values underpinning that glorious revolution we are commemorating today, it is hardly a surprise that, ever since it gained independence, Morocco has adopted unwavering stances as well as concrete measures in favor of Africa, such as:
• participation in the first peacekeeping operation in the Congo, in 1960;
• the hosting of the first meeting of the African development committee, in Tangier, the same year;
• the setting up, under the 1961 government, of the first Ministry of African Affairs, to back liberation movements.
These earnest efforts for the benefit of African peoples culminated in the 1961 Casablanca Conference, which laid the groundwork for the creation of the Organization of African Unity in 1963.
Therefore, Morocco’s commitment to defending Africa’s causes and interests is not new. It reflects a standard policy consistently carried out by my ancestors, and which I have been proudly and confidently pursuing.
Morocco’s commitment to – and interest in – Africa are by no means a coincidence; nor are they the result of transient considerations. They reflect a sense of loyalty to a shared history and illustrate our firm belief that ours is a common destiny.
They are the result of profound, realistic reflection which is itself governed by a long-term, strategic vision and a gradual, consensual approach.
Our African policy is based on a thorough understanding of African realities, substantiated by more than fifty visits to over 29 countries – 14 of which I have visited since October 2016. That policy is also aimed at serving shared interests through solidarity-based, win-win partnerships.
This tangible policy is best illustrated by the flagship development projects launched, like the Nigeria-Morocco Atlantic gas pipeline project, the construction of fertilizer plants in Ethiopia and Nigeria as well as human development projects designed to improve the living conditions of African citizens, such as the creation of healthcare facilities, vocational training institutions and fishermen’s villages.
As a result of this successful policy, we have managed to strengthen our economic partnerships, ensure Morocco’s return to the African Union and secure the agreement in principle to our request to join the Economic Commission of West African States.
Morocco’s reintegration into the pan-African organization marks a diplomatic watershed moment in our country’s foreign policy.
This major accomplishment, as part of our African policy, was secured despite the obstacles thrown in our way by certain parties. This achievement attests to our African brothers’ and sisters’ perception of Morocco as a credible player – one whom they hold in high esteem.
Following this historic event, I wish to reiterate my thanks and appreciation to all African countries which stood by us – and even those which did not. I am sure the latter will change their position, once they realize the sincerity of our endeavors.
Although our return to the African organization is a highly significant event, it is not an end in itself. Africa was and always will be a top priority for us. What matters, above all, is the continent’s progress and the services provided to African citizens.
As for those who neglect Africa, play down its importance, do not care about its causes or engage in influence peddling, that is their problem, and theirs alone.
As far as Morocco is concerned, Africa is the future. And the future starts today.
Whoever thinks that we did what we did solely to return to the African Union, well, let me simply say they do not know me.
Now is the time for action. And Morocco keenly looks forward to continuing the efforts it has been exerting in Africa for more than fifteen years.
I should point out, in this regard, that Morocco’s return to its African organization will not affect its solid bilateral relations with African nations, nor mutually agreed development programs.
Reintegration into the AU is but the start of a new era of joint action with all African countries in order to build a genuine, solidarity-based partnership, ensure – together – our continent’s development and meet the needs of African citizens.
We are currently in the process of building an Africa that believes in itself, is committed to solidarity and rallies behind concrete projects while being open to its surroundings.
It is this comprehensive vision that led the Kingdom to apply officially to join the Economic Commission of West African States.
I should like, in this respect, to express my thanks to the leaders of ECOWAS Member Countries for agreeing in principle to Morocco’s request to become a full-fledged member.
ECOWAS is a natural extension of the AU. By joining both institutions, Morocco will contribute to economic prosperity and human development on the continent.
This is a historic political decision and a milestone in the endeavors made towards African integration, which can only be achieved through regional blocs, for the latter have become crucial players in international affairs.
Within ECOWAS, the Kingdom of Morocco will seek to lay down the foundations for genuine African integration that serves the continent and fulfils its peoples’ aspirations for development and for a dignified life, in an environment characterized by unity, security and stability.
I have opted for a policy based on solidarity and for balanced partnerships grounded in mutual respect and the fulfilment of African peoples’ shared interests.
Morocco has never engaged in influence peddling. Instead, it has opted to put its expertise and know-how at the disposal of its African brothers and sisters. Money comes and goes, unlike knowledge and skills; it is these that help meet people’s needs.
African peoples understand that. They seek our cooperation and our support for their efforts in many fields – not the other way round.
They also realize that we are keen to build fruitful partnerships with them, based on well thought-out investment and development programs involving the public and private sectors in the countries concerned.
As for those who know the truth, but spread unfounded allegations to the effect that Morocco is spending huge sums of money on Africa instead of devoting those resources to Moroccans, they care little about the country’s interests.
The focus on Africa will not affect our stances, nor will it be at the expense of our national priorities. In fact, it will bring added value to our national economy and will deepen and consolidate our relations with African nations.
Our African policy has had a direct, positive impact on the question of our territorial integrity, be it with regard to states’ positions or the resolutions adopted by the African Union.
This, in turn, has given fresh momentum to the examination of this question at the United Nations Organization.
Whereas 2016 was the year of resolve and intransigence, during which we matched action with words to thwart the schemes designed to impinge on our rights, 2017 has been the year of clarity and of a return to the standards and principles for the settlement of the artificial dispute over the Moroccanness of the Sahara.
This firm, unambiguous policy has helped put the process back on the right track, thereby halting the plots designed to divert it into the unknown.
This was confirmed by the UN Secretary-General’s report as well as the Security Council resolution adopted last April, be it in terms of commitment to the frame of reference for a settlement, the appreciation of the autonomy proposal as a negotiating framework, or the determination of the legal and political responsibilities of the real party concerned in this regional dispute.
The proactive, composed and firm manner in which we settled the Guerguerat crisis thwarted the efforts to change the facts on the ground in our Sahara and helped put to rest the myth of the ‘liberated territories’ peddled by Morocco’s enemies.
In parallel with these developments, international support for the autonomy proposal has continued, as illustrated by the growing number of states which have withdrawn their recognition of the fictional entity and by the legal settlement concerning Morocco’s economic partnership with a number of influential powers.
The 20th August Revolution is more than just a landmark event in Morocco’s history. That event reverberated across the Maghreb and the rest of Africa as well.
We need to draw inspiration today from the values of sacrifice, loyalty and generosity underpinning that event so as to continue to be torchbearers of that revolution, domestically and continentally.
By upholding those values and principles and promoting collective action, we shall be able to rise to the intricate challenges we are facing and thus achieve comprehensive development and enhance the security and stability the peoples in the region are yearning for.
I should like, in this respect, to praise the serious work and effective action undertaken by the Moroccan diplomatic service to defend the country’s best interests, enhance its credibility and increase its influence at the regional, continental and international levels.
I remember, with reverence and emotion, the anniversary of the Royal family’s exile in Madagascar – a country I visited last year.
I saw the sincerity of the Malgasy people’s esteem and affection for the Royal family. There were emotional memories and recollections of human bonds with members of the Royal family, despite the hardships of exile and of life so far away from the homeland.
It is with deep reverence that I wish to honor the memory of our esteemed martyrs, particularly my beloved grandfather, His Majesty King Mohammed V, and his comrade-in-arms, my revered father, His Majesty King Hassan II. May they rest in peace.
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by Samia Errazzouki
The king of Morocco expressed his condolences to Spain on Friday over the deadly attack in Barcelona, over which three Moroccans have been arrested.
King Mohammed VI also condemned what he called an “odious criminal act, contrary to all human values and religious precepts”.
“His Majesty the King expresses to King Felipe VI, and through him, to all the families of victims and to the Spanish people, his sincere condolences and solidarity and compassion,” said a statement carried by state news agency MAP.
Thirteen people were killed and scores more wounded on Thursday when a van ploughed into crowds on a central boulevard in the Spanish coastal city.
Spanish police say they have arrested four people in connection with the attacks, three of them Moroccan and one from the Spanish enclave of Melilla on Morocco’s northern coast.
Moroccan authorities did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Three Moroccan nationals were among those injured during the attack and were being treated in a Barcelona hospital, according to MAP. (Reporting by Samia Errazzouki; Editing by Aidan Lewis and Angus MacSwan)
Business Brief: Morocco Set to Host International Conferences on Aviation and Sustainable Development; Announces Large Scale Infrastructure and Renewable Energy Projects; and Looks Ahead to Building its Agricultural Sector – Jean R. AbiNader
Several international conferences have announced plans for events in Morocco. Key transportation, ports, and highway projects have been announced, as well as further investments in urban development, desalination/solar energy initiatives, and agricultural sector improvements.
Upcoming conferences. The Middle East and North Africa Business Aviation Association (MEBAA) Conference, will hold a one-day conference on September 11 in Marrakech. It has announced a full roster of speakers, demonstrations, and topics related to business aviation in the region, such as cyber security, aircraft financing and investment, market trends, and ownership options. Representing Morocco will be the Minister of Tourism, Mohammed Sajid and Zouair El Aoufir, CEO of the Office Nationale des Aeroports (ONDA).
According to Ali Alnaqbi, Executive Chairman of MEBAA, “The event will provide the attendees with an invaluable insights into many key areas of the industry, while also identifying opportunities for growth. Attendees will leave with a deeper understanding of the market and the tools to grow their businesses in conjunction with the burgeoning market.” The MEBAA Conference will be followed by the MEBAA Show Morocco, a two-day event at Marrakech Menara Airport.
The 7th Digital Earth Summit 2018, which focuses on Digital Earth for Sustainable Development in Africa, will be held in El Jadida, Morocco, at the Faculty of Science, Chouaib Douakkali University, from 17-19 April 2018. This conference will be one of the major events in the international community of Earth observation and geo-spatial information science in 2018.
The conference is being organized by the International Society for Digital Earth (ISDE) and the Chouaib Douakkali University (UCD) in partnership with the African Association of Remote Sensing of the Environment (AARSE) and the Moroccan Association of Remote Sensing of the Environment (MARSE). Its objective is to bring together scientists and professionals from the international and African community to present recent achievements, discuss challenges, and share experiences. In addition to experts, reports on research outcomes, and discussions on operational topics, such as capacity building, Spatial Data Infrastructure (SDI), big data, space policy, programs, and projects, there will be commercial exhibitions showing the latest products and services in Digital Earth and geospatial information technologies.
Large scale projects take center stage. Abengoa, a Spanish energy services company, has signed an agreement with the Moroccan government to build a solar powered seawater desalination plant, essential for meeting the country’s growing demand for potable water, near the metropolitan tourist area of Agadir. Once completed, the plant is expected to start producing close to 275,000 cubic meters of water per day – 150,000 for food consumption and 125,000 for irrigating the 13,600 hectares of commercial farms near Agadir, with a goal of a maximum capacity of 450,000 cubic meters per day. Abengoa will be responsible for the development, construction, and maintenance of the plant for at least 27 years.
On the agricultural front, Morocco has allocated $2.3 billion to projects promoting the use of solar energy in agricultural production. According to Energy Minister Aziz Rabbah, the project is meant to boost the use of solar energy in pumping water, and to curb the consumption of butane gas. The solar energy will come from the Noor solar facility in Ouarzazate.
With an average consumption of 3.8 cubic meters of water per person per day, including agriculture and industrial use, the Abengoa plant will be able to cover the needs of nearly 72,500 people.
In other agricultural news, the General Directorate of Agriculture of Laayoune announced that $270 million will be spent on 92 agricultural projects in the Laayoune-Sakia-El Hamra region from 2016-2020. The allocations cover land reclamation, irrigation, water management, fertilizer utilization, demonstration projects, and similar initiatives to strengthen and modernize the agricultural sector in those areas.
Minister of Agriculture, Maritime Fisheries, Rural Development and Water and Forests Aziz Akhannouch recently reviewed the progress of agricultural projects in Draa, Todgha, Maider, Aliat Draa, and Bani, where some $190 million in projects, benefiting some 88,000 people is moving ahead. The projects cover date crop production, olive groves, almonds, aromatic plants, saffron, apple, henna, figs, and garlic, in addition to red meat and beekeeping. These efforts are part of various phases of the Plan Vert Maroc, the national strategy for agriculture and fisheries.
Highway construction projects move ahead. In the metropolitan area around Casablanca, perhaps the most congested in the country, a budget of almost $160 million has been allocated to highway widening projects to reduce congestion by adding additional lanes between Casablanca and Settat and Berrechid, to its south. Meanwhile, more than $75 million has been allocated to the construction of 112 miles of roads in the province of Al Hoceima, as part of the regional development plan. A report from the African Development Bank noted that it has provided some $2 billion over 20 years to support the transportation sector in Morocco.
Safi port development gathers steam. The new port of Safi is slated to be one of the largest in Morocco, and will have a great economic impact on the province, known primarily as a leading producer of ceramics. The port, to be built at a cost of some $420 million, will enable the Marrakech-Safi region to reach international markets more quickly and efficiently
And speaking of Marrakech. The municipal government recently announced that it will pioneer the use of electrical buses in Morocco. It is anticipated that replacing the current diesel-powered fleet will reduce pollution and noise, and enhance the urban transportation system. The goal is to have buses operating by the end of September.
The post Business Brief: Morocco Set to Host International Conferences on Aviation and Sustainable Development; Announces Large Scale Infrastructure and Renewable Energy Projects; and Looks Ahead to Building its Agricultural Sector – Jean R. AbiNader appeared first on Morocco On The Move.
The European Union (EU) hailed on Friday the appointment of Horst Köhler as the UNSG Personal Envoy for the Sahara.
EU Hails Appointment of Horst Köhler as UNSG Personal Envoy for Sahara
"We welcome the appointment of former President Horst Köhler as the personal envoy of the UN Secretary General for the Sahara," an EU spokesman told MAP.
Relations between Morocco and Indonesia are solid and derive their force from the historical dimension, said Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi.
The Moroccan-Indonesian relations started when Morocco gained its independence in 1956, knowing that these relations date back to the preparatory phase of the Bandung Conference in 1955, which was an inspiration for Asian and African countries striving to achieve independence including Morocco, Marsudi told daily "Le Matin du Sahara", on the occasion of the 72nd anniversary of the independence of his country.
UN Secretary General António Guterres announced, on Wednesday in New York, the appointment of Former German President Horst Köhler as the UNSG Personal Envoy for the Sahara.
Köhler has over a 35-year experience in the governmental sector and international organizations, mainly as the president of the Federal Republic of Germany (2004-2010), said a UN statement.
Köhler was also director general of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) between 2000 and 2004, and president of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development in London (1998-2000).
The reinforcement of bilateral cooperation was, on Tuesday in Rabat, at the centre of talks between speaker of the House of Representatives Habib El Malki and Indonesia's Ambassador to Morocco Syarief Syamsuri.
El Malki underlined that this meeting was an occasion to highlight the importance of relations between the two countries and the two law-making bodies, said a statement by House of Representatives.
Morocco is moving judiciously to ensure a balance between environmental concerns and prospective economic benefits as it approaches opportunities to exploit gas and oil shale for badly needed energy. The UK company, Sound Energy recently announced that it had found commercial quantities of gas in the interior of Morocco, noting that oil and gas shale prospects were also worth considering. The company, in conjunction with its Moroccan partner, has received approval to build a transit pipeline from its sites in L’Oriental province to link into the existing Gazoduc Maghreb Europe (GME) pipeline. While traditional gas drilling technology is being used at this stage, the company believes that the possible use of shale technologies should be considered as Morocco strives to meet its national energy goals.
It is a bit of an irony that the gas and oil shale that are emerging as the first targets of opportunity are located in an undeveloped region with high levels of poverty, similar in terms of economic profiles to fields in the US in Pennsylvania, North Dakota, and Oklahoma. An article posted at equaltimes.org, describes the area in vivid terms. “Morocco’s eastern steppe is comprised of sparsely populated, immense plateaus with scant vegetation. The poverty in this region is endemic, affecting 28.5 per cent of the inhabitants, a level three times higher than in the rest of the country, according to the official figures published by the statistics office of the High Planning Commission. Desertification and persistent poverty constitute major risks for the way of life of the last remaining nomads in the province.”
The article goes on to describe the ambivalence among some of the locals towards the gas discovery. Despite the great poverty, “this population is by no means thrilled about the recent discovery of a gas field.” One issue is that locals have heard since 1966 that prosperity tied to potential gas finds was just around the corner. Gas prospecting has been going on in the area since the 1960s, and until now, the volume of gas found was not commercially viable. This shifted in April 2016, when Sound Energy and its Moroccan partner, Oil & Gas Investment Fund (OGIF) received a permit and were soon reporting gas in potentially commercial quantities.
“Morocco has 900,000 square kilometers of sedimentary basin with a high gas potential, and yet barely half of that has been seriously explored,” said previous Energy Minister, Abdelkader Amara, during the 2014 Morocco Oil & Gas Summit. As a result of Morocco’s proactive energy incentives to change that, there are now 32 companies with exploration permits, some of which are expecting promising results.
While new exploration is feeding hopes of an economic upturn that would help to address the migration of youth to nearby urban areas, the traditional lifestyle tied to grazing and sedentary agriculture will be impacted, and must be taken into consideration, according to local NGOs.
As one local official noted, “We know these discoveries will not change the region overnight. Our neglected towns and villages are, above all, in need of basic infrastructure.” For example, fully a quarter of the 400 inhabitants of Maâtarka, a small village, live under the poverty line, the health clinic has no running water, and the village school opens only intermittently.
Similar villages in the region have fallen into neglect and been abandoned. This feeds a very high rate of youth unemployment. The column notes that “Despite the huge needs in these villages, the hopes of gas being discovered are tempered by fears of the environmental consequences of this activity on land that is fragile.”
The government’s position is quite clear. A public document makes no secret of the government’s desire to utilize these potential energy resources. But it has also made clear that it recognizes the importance of protecting a fragile environment. The government and Sound Energy have held public meetings to explain that no licenses have been issued at this time for fracking or other controversial non-conventional gas prospecting methods. Sound Energy, proceeding with conventional gas exploitation, is operating “in compliance with all the country’s environment standards,” and is committed to the economic development of the area beyond the gas fields. It expects to make an announcement in 2018 regarding potential gas supplies, with production activities commencing the following year.
This is especially critical for Morocco, which currently imports more than 95% of its energy needs, and is making huge investments in solar, wind, hydro, and other technologies. With a growing population, energy demand will continue to challenge the country’s capacity to meet its energy needs without a robust and diversified energy sector.
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