Western sahara Major events
© Photo: YouTube/Youtupe Mania
US Navy Littoral Warship Coronado Departs Singapore for Patrol in Pacific.
The US guided missile cruiser Vella Gulf performed a maritime interdiction and small boat defense training session with the Royal Moroccan Navy’s (RMNS) patrol ship Commandant El Harti, the US Navy said in a press release on Tuesday.
“The Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Vella Gulf (CG 72) participated in a cooperation exercise with the Royal Moroccan Navy [on] May 5, 2017 while on deployment in the US 6th Fleet area of operations,” the release stated. “Vella Gulf and the P306 RMNS Commandant El Harti conducted maritime interdiction operations (MIO) and small boat defense procedures during the exercise.”
The release explained that maritime interdiction operations are key to stopping piracy on the high seas and noted that small boat attacks on larger ships are increasing.
“Vella Gulf is deployed as an independent unit in support of maritime security and ballistic missile defense operations in international waters across the globe,” the release added.
The US 6th Fleet is headquartered in Naples, Italy and its area of operations covers approximately half of the Atlantic Ocean from the North Pole to Antarctica as well as the Adriatic, Baltic, Barents, Black, Caspian, Mediterranean and North seas.
This is post 3 of 4 in the series “Africa Calling: The Most and Least Attractive Investment Destinations”
1. Here Are The New Top 10 Investment Destinations in Africa
2. Botswana Emerges as the Most Attractive Investment Destination of Africa
3. Why Are Morocco and Egypt Among the Top Three Investment Destinations of Africa?
4. The 10 Worst Investment Destinations of Africa
Morocco: A consistent performer
From 2013 until 2016, Morocco has been quite consistent, ranking among the top three destinations according to Quantum Global Research Lab’s Africa Investment Index (AII).
Morocco placed second in the 2016 index, released in April this year, due to superior showing on current account ratio, ease of doing business, and import cover. The country also ranks fairly high on real gross domestic product (GDP), and Facebook penetration rate. Its worst showing comes is in external debt as a percentage of gross national income (GNI), where it ranks 30th.
In 2015, Morocco had stood third overall in the rankings, and was the top investment destination in 2014.
Due to its consistent performance, Morocco emerges as the top ranked country in the AII in the three-year rolling rankings.
The political environment is the biggest challenge for the nation, apart from low per-capital GDP, which S&P Global Ratings holds is “one of the lowest in the category of countries rated BBB-/A-3.”
The country was without a government for over six months until recently when the parliament gave its vote of confidence to Prime Minister Saad Eddine El Othmani’s Islamist Justice and Development Party. This lacuna in administration has led to delays in public spending programs. However, overall, the country’s ranking remains strong across metrics, making it a viable investment option.
Egypt: Opportunity in the land of the Pyramids
Egypt has been in the top ten in the Africa Investment Index (AII) in all years from 2013 to 2016.
However, its third place as per the 2016 index was its best showing in these four years.
Related Article Botswana Emerges as the Most Attractive Investment Destination of Africa
The country has scored well on factors including size of GDP, real interest rate, total population, and external debt as a percentage of GNI. It ranks among top ten nations on Facebook penetration rate, credit rating, and current account ratio. Its worst ranking is on the factor of exchange rate risk, where it ranks 48th among 54 countries.
In both 2014 and 2015, Egypt stood at eighth overall in the rankings.
The country has been on a reform path after it qualified for a $12 billion loan program from the International Monetary Fund in November 2016. However, its action to improve its finances may have been detrimental to the people who had marched against rationing of bread in March. The government is under pressure to do more in order to qualify for future tranches of the aforementioned loan.
There have been some positive effects of the reform process though, as Egypt has got back on investors radars.
Until now, we have looked at the top 10 investment destinations of Africa and focused on the top three. In the next article, let’s look at the bottom 10 countries as per the AII.
This is post 3 of 4 in the series “Africa Calling: The Most and Least Attractive Investment Destinations”
By: Samaa Web DeskPublished in Economy, Pakistan
Pakistan and Morocco have signed a memorandum of understanding on establishment of a joint business council in Casablanca.
The MoU was signed by Vice President of Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Ishtiaq Baig and President of Moroccan Federation of Chambers of Commerce, Industry and Services, Mustapha Amhal in Islamabad.
The purpose of establishing the joint business council is to strengthen economic cooperation between the two countries in trade, investment, technology transfer, services and other industrial sectors.
The forum, comprising Pakistani and Moroccan businessmen, will not only discuss means of promotion of economic cooperation but will also make recommendations to the respective governments in this regard. –SAMAA/app
Story first published: 10th May 2017
Staff writer, Al Arabiya English
Saudi King Salman has sent messages to Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, King Mohammed VI of the Kingdom of Morocco, Iraqi President Dr. Fuad Masum and Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi, inviting them to attend Arab, Islamic and United States summit hosted by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
The Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubair and Saudi Chargé D’Affaires in the countries sent the messages to the nations’ leaders.
During the invitation handouts, bilateral relations were discussed between representatives of Saudi Arabia and the other countries.
Last Update: Tuesday, 9 May 2017 KSA 17:05 – GMT 14:05
by Deena Kamel
Air Arabia PJSC has renewed plans to expand its fleet, with the biggest discount carrier in the Persian Gulf and North Africa encouraged as pressure on fares eases, boosting prospects in Morocco and other bases.
The airline, an Airbus SE A320 operator, could reach a decision on new jets as early as this year or into 2018, Chief Executive Officer Adel Ali said in an interview in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, where it is based.
Air Arabia’s net income fell 10 percent to 103 million dirhams ($28 million) in the first quarter, extending declines from last year as the low oil price weighed on Gulf economies, the Egyptian pound fell and concerns about terrorism hurt demand. Bookings from Morocco, which last suffered a major attack in 2011 but remains subject to foreign advisories, suggest the situation is easing, Ali said.
“As we go into the second quarter and then summer I’m optimistic that things will be much brighter,” the CEO said. “We’ve been growing pretty fast in our hub in Morocco. It’s been doing very well for us. Morocco this year will probably be our key fast-growing market.”
Shares of the U.A.E.’s only listed airline have declined 23 percent this year, valuing it at 4.8 billion dirhams. They slumped 9.4 percent, the most since 2013, on Feb. 9 after the company reported its first quarterly loss on record for the final three months of 2016.
Air Arabia currently operates a fleet of 47 A320s, according to its website, with the planes distributed across bases in Sharjah, Jordan, Egypt and Morocco, where it serves six cities and plans to station eight aircraft this summer, up from five previously, Ali said.
Rates for leased aircraft are also looking attractive, he said, providing Air Arabia with an opportunity to source jets more quickly if required. The CEO had said in 2015 that he aimed to place an order for new aircraft by the end of 2016, while declining to specify how many and of what type.
Seat-occupancy levels declined only slightly to 81 percent in the first quarter as Air Arabia cut fares to defend its market share, it said Sunday. Ali said he’s now “more optimistic” about yields, or prices, as the Russian market also revives and Egypt shows signs of a recovery after the country’s currency float.
“We’re seeing people continue to travel,” Ali said. “That’s a positive signal for all of us. We’ll manage the yield and the cost as long as people are traveling.”
By Joseph Dumbula
Malawi no longer recognizes the Sahrawi Arabic Democratic Republic (SADR), Foreign Affairs Minister Francis Kasaila has said.
This places the nation as the 35th one to make such an announcement.
Malawi established diplomatic relations with the SADR in 2002.
The SADR is a disputed territory claimed by both the Kingdom of Morocco and the Polisario Front.
It is listed by the United Nations (UN), as a non-decolonized territory and is thus included in the United Nations List of Non-Self-Governing Territories.
Kasaila (L) with Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita in Rabat. (Image credit- Morocco World News)
‘’Only a handful of the countries that proclaimed their backing to the Polisario and its pseudo republic at the height of the Cold War in the 1970s are still supporting the separatist movement. This waning support shows that African countries are increasingly aware of the reality of the Sahara issue and are making diplomatic decisions in accordance with international legality and the UN Charter, Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita said at the end of his meeting with his Malawian counterpart Francis Kasaila, in Rabat on Friday,’’ a post on Saharanews.com reads.
The SADR which controls about 20–25% of the territory also looks after a thin strip of area in the Western Sahara region and claims sovereignty over the entire territory of Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony.
SADR was proclaimed by the Polisario Front on February 27, 1976, in Bir Lehlou, Western Sahara, a former communist liberation force (modelled after that of Cuba) which has since reformed its ideological and political views.
In making the withdrawal, Malawi has joined in drumming up support to the UN efforts seeking to reach a lasting and mutually acceptable political solution to this regional dispute.
Malawi had also announced the withdrawal before it re-established the diplomatic ties in 2008 until 2014 when it rescinded the decision.
The Polisario is first and foremost a nationalist organization, whose main goal is the independence of Western Sahara. It has stated that ideological disputes should be left for a future democratic Western Sahara to deal with. It views itself as a “front” encompassing all political trends in Sahrawi society, and not as a political party. As a consequence, there is no party programme.
However, the Sahrawi republic’s constitution gives a hint of the movement’s ideological context: in the early 1970s, Polisario adopted a vaguely socialist rhetoric, in line with most national liberation movements of the time, but this was eventually abandoned in favour of a non-politicized Sahrawi nationalism. By the late 1970s, references to socialism in the republic’s constitution were removed, and by 1991, the Polisario was explicitly pro-free-market.
The Polisario has stated that it will, when Sahrawi self-determination has been achieved, either function as a party within the context of a multi-party system, or be completely disbanded. This is to be decided by a Polisario Front congress upon the achievement of Western Sahara’s independence.
IANS | Madrid
A group of about 300 sub-Saharan migrants on Tuesday staged a mass attempt to breach the border fence between Spain and Morocco, authorities said.
The mass attempt to reach Melilla, a Spanish autonomous city on the North African mainland, early on Tuesday saw about 100 migrants succeed, while about 200 others were blocked by Spanish and Moroccan security forces, Efe news reported.
The 100 or so who managed to get over the fence were taken to a temporary immigrant processing centre.
The incident took place at the southern part of the border fence in Melilla, and saw migrants hurling rocks as efforts to reach Spanish territory turned violent, according to the authorities.
During the assault, three members of the Spanish Civil Guard were injured and several security vehicles were damaged.
The last successful mass attempt to reach Melilla was on February 6, when 18 of a group of 40 migrants made it over a fence in the same area.
By Agency Report
AFP PHOTO / SEYLLOU
Senegalese policemen stand guard outside the Attijariwafa Moroccan bank during its inauguration in Dakar, Senegal, 07 July 2006. Senegalese Prime Minister Macky Sall and his Morrocan counterpart Driss Jettou attended the event.
- Shares climb to snap three days of declines in Casablanca
- Lender sees floating of dirham boosting demand for derivatives
- halted its plans to enter Nigeria and Algeria as it prioritizes the consolidation of its purchase of 100 percent of Barclays Plc’s Egypt
Attijariwafa Bank, Morocco’s biggest lender, is planning to complete expansions in East and West Africa this year as it focuses on consolidating its new acquisitions to spur growth.
Meanwhile the lender has halted its plans to enter Nigeria and Algeria as it prioritizes the consolidation of its purchase of 100 percent of Barclays Plc’s Egypt, which was completed this month as part of plans to boost growth.
The Casablanca-based bank aims to finalize a deal to buy Rwanda’s Cie Generale de Banque, known as Cogebanque, start commercial banking operations in Chad and apply for a banking license in Ghana in 2017, General Manager Ismail Douiri said in an interview in Cairo on Sunday.
Attijariwafa started its first wave of acquisitions in 2005 as it was faced with fewer opportunities to expand in Morocco. It now operates in 26 countries including Tunisia, Niger, Gabon and Cameroon, as well as France, Germany and Italy.
The bank forecasts loans and deposits will increase 5 percent to 7 percent and profits to expand between 5 percent and 10 percent in 2017. It plans to sell as much as 1.5 billion Moroccan dirhams ($152 million) of perpetual bonds to meet Basel 3 requirements.
Attijariwafa expects the planned floating of the dirham in the second half of this year to boost revenues as the subsequent volatility in the currency will create higher demand for foreign-currency derivatives products, Douiri said.
“There are risks but also opportunities,” he said.
Attijariwafa’s shares climbed 1.5 percent to 419 dirhams per share by 1:15 p.m. in Casablanca, snapping three days of declines.
By Michel Cousins
Ageela Saleh, accompanied by Libyan ambassador Abdulmajed Seif El Nasr (left), presented by Moroccan foreign minister Nasser Bourita with a trophy to mark his visit (Photo: HoR)
The president of the House of Representatives has been warmly welcomed in the Moroccan capital Rabat which he is visiting at the invitation of the speaker of Morocco’s House of Representatives, Habib Al-Malki.
In talks with Malki, it was agreed to establish a joint parliamentary committee to strengthen relations and aid cooperation between the two countries.
Accompanied by Libyan ambassador to Rabat Abdulmajed Seif El Nasr and a small delegation, Saleh later went the Moroccan foreign ministry where he was presented a trophy to mark his visit.
According to the HoR media office, discussions with the Moroccan foreign minister, Nasser Bourita, focussed on efforts to resolve the Libyan crisis, but in accordance with the wishes of the Libyan HoR.
For its part, the Moroccan news agency, MAP, noted that Bourita called on all Libyan parties to accept the principle of consensus. It was in the interests of the Libyan people, their peace and the country’s unity, the minister said.
Also according to MAP, Ageela Saleh praised Morocco’s King Mohamed for his efforts to being about reconciliation in Libya.
Morocco hosted the UN-brokered Libya Dialogue sessions in Skhirat which resulted in the Libyan Political Agreement. Saleh, however, is not wholly in agreement with it.
For many centuries, Morocco had played a major role in the old Maritime Silk Road, connecting the major civilizations of Asia, Europe and Africa.
With the Belt and Road Initiative, Morocco is set to regain its role and contribute to the embodiment of China’s promising proposal to build a Silk Road Economic Belt and a 21st Century Maritime Silk Road in cooperation with related countries.
The North African kingdom offers a number of assets to contribute to this ambitious initiative. Morocco enjoys a long-standing history of exchange and cooperation with the countries along the old Silk Road, and China, which will host the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation on May 14 and 15, is on the top of them.
Morocco and China share a long history of exchanges and a long tradition of friendship. Back in the middle of the seventh century, one Chinese, named Du Huan, already travelled to Morocco. Later on, in the 13th century, Wang Dayuan of the Yuan dynasty also went as far as Morocco.
In the 14th century, Moroccan traveller Ibn Battuta travelled to China and had stayed nearly three decades in the country. In the end of his travels to various countries, he wrote a book where he dedicated a whole chapter to his journey to China, narrating with great amazement the grandeur of Chinese civilization.
Despite the far geographic distance between the two countries, their exchange has never stopped. The North African kingdom was the second country (Egypt was the first one) in the continent to recognize the People’s Republic of China in 1958, and bilateral cooperation progressed slowly but steadily.
In recent years, Morocco and China intensified their economic cooperation. China has become Morocco’s fourth trade partner with over 3.4 billion U.S. dollars in 2015. Chinese investment in Morocco increased by 195 percent and 93 percent in 2014 and 2015.
During Morocco’s King Mohammed VI’s visit to Beijing in May 2016, the two countries decided to establish China-Morocco strategic partnership, opening new chapter in the bilateral relations.
Since this historical visit, a significant increase in the exchange has taken place. Many joint ventures have been launched, including a mega project of building industrial park in the Northern city of Tangiers with 10 billion dollars investments.
In addition to the bilateral cooperation, Morocco and China reach consensus on many issues, particularly non-intervention and building mutually-beneficial South-South cooperation. In this connection, Morocco sees promising cooperation within the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative, especially in Africa.
“Morocco has strategic depth in West Africa, built on historical, cultural and religious relations. It can play a key role in linking (West African) countries to the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road and open new opportunities in the fast-growing economies of West Africa,” Morocco’s former ambassador to China, Jaafar Hakim Laalej, said in a previous interview.
The kingdom is already the top investor in West Africa and the second largest African investor in the continent.
Morocco greatly appreciates China’s continued contributions to the development of Africa.
“China’s assistance to Africa over the years has benefited the African people,” King Mohammed VI said during his visit to Beijing, adding that his country “stands ready to become China’s important cooperative partner in the African continent.”
Apart from that, Morocco enjoys strong relations with Arab and European countries.
The combination of all these factors make of Morocco a trusted partner in implementing China’s initiative. The kingdom anticipates great opportunities.
“The Belt and Road Initiative heralds a new era of cooperation that will benefit all. Morocco embraces the initiative fully and is optimistic about it,” Laalej said.
The Belt and Road Initiative will bring countless opportunities to Moroccan economy, that’s for sure, he underlined, adding that Morocco and China are committed to a strategic partnership, and the initiative will definitely boost that framework, both economically and socially.
Morocco experienced the benefits of the old Maritime Silk Road, and with its standing as a gateway in Africa, the country is looking ahead for more beneficial cooperation within the Belt and Road Initiative.
The level of terror threat has been raised to four out of five and the total of 207 terrorists has been detained in the country since 2015, according to the Spanish Interior Ministry.
“Police Officers from the General Commissariat of Information of the National Police have detained in Badalona (Barcelona) and Salou (Tarragona) two men of Moroccan nationality, aged 21 and 32, for integration with a sell attached to DAESH, while, together with the National Police, Morocco’s Directorate of Surveillance of the National Territory has carried out detention in Tangier (Morocco) of the third member of the same cell,” the statement said.
The statement noted that the two men detained in Spain maintained contacts with Daesh members in Syria and Iraq, demonstrated a desire to pursue Jihad and wanted to die like martyrs. In addition, one of them was in Spain illegally.
National regulator ANRT reported that Morocco reached 16.97 million mobile internet users in March, representing an annual growth of 27.5 percent. In the same period, ADSL customers increased by 8.5 percent to reach 1.27 million.
While retaining the highest share of mobile internet users, Maroc Telecom (IAM) saw its dominance eroded with 47.5 percent of the market, down from 49.6 percent in the previous quarter and 50.9 percent a year earlier. Rivals Orange Morocco and Inwi shared the rest of subscriptions, with a market share of 26.8 and 25.7 percent respectively.
Looking at the overall mobile base, the first quarter saw a continuation of the key trends shaping the Moroccan market. Postpaid connections remained on an upward trend, accounting for 7 percent of the country’s 41.78 million mobile subscriptions, while the LTE base continued to increase at a strong pace, rising by 21 percent since December 2016 to reach 3.4 million at the end of March.
by Ehab Farouk
(Corrects book value year in paragraph 4 to 2016, not 2017)
CAIRO May 7 (Reuters) – Morocco’s Attijariwafa Bank paid twice book value to acquire Barclays’ Egyptian business and hopes the acquisition will enable it to increase its market share in Egypt to 5 percent within five years, the Moroccan bank’s CEO said.
The bank plans to rename the unit Attijariwafa Bank Egypt and raise its profile in Egypt, CEO Mohamed El Kettani said.
Britain’s Barclays reached a deal last year to sell its Egyptian banking unit to Attijariwafa Bank, one of Morocco’s largest banks, but the value of the deal, which closed this month, has not been disclosed by either side.
Kettani, speaking to Reuters on Sunday, would not put an exact dollar figure on the acquisition but said it was twice Barclays Egypt’s 2016 book value or about seven times its expected net profit for 2017.
Sources had told Reuters previously that the Barclays Egypt business was valued at around $400 million.
Kettani expects the cost of the deal to be recovered in five to seven years.
Attijariwafa hopes the acquisition will enable it to increase its market share in Egypt to 5 percent within five years, from about 1-1.5 percent currently, and it plans to add new services such as leasing and insurance, said Kettani.
In the next few days the bank will choose an international consulting firm to develop a five-year strategy for its Egypt operations.
“Attijari Bank Egypt will be the group’s entryway to Gulf states and East Africa,” Kettani said.
(Reporting by Ehab Farouk; Writing by Eric Knecht; Editing by Susan Fenton)