Western sahara Major events

16th Marrakech Film Festival Wraps With A Reinforced World Cinema Imprint

Western Sahara Worldnews - Sat, 12/10/2016 - 11:36

Martin Dale, Contributor

Fest director Melita Toscan du Plantier thanks support given by Martin Scorsese.

The 16th Marrakech film fest wraps today, Saturday, with the closing ceremony featuring Fatih Akin’s “Goodbye Berlin” and announcement of the films that will win the Golden Star for best film and the best actor and best actress.

This year’s edition had a very strong world cinema imprint, highly influenced by the country tribute to Russian cinema and the choice of iconoclastic Hungarian filmmaker, Bela Tara, as jury prexy.

The career tributes and masterclasses featured outspoken filmmakers, who have provoked controversy in their home countries and in several cases have moved abroad to maintain their creative independence.

Tarr proudly described himself as one Hungary’s “top five black sheep” and has spent the last five years running his Film Factory school in Sarajevo, Bosnia, where he encourages his students to hunt in order to “capture life” in their films.

Paul Verhoeven, who this week was confirmed as jury president for Berlin 2017, has touted controversy throughout his career. The success and polemics generated by films such as “Spetters” in his native Holland led him to move to Hollywood in the late 1980s. But U.S. pictures such as “Starship Troopers” also generated criticism, and Verhoeven recently revived his career by lensing his first French-language pic, “Elle,” starring Isabelle Huppert.

Paul Haggis is no stranger to controversy, including films such as “In the Valley of Elah” which provided a jaundiced view of the Iraq war at a time when in some parts it was still very popular. Haggis also sees himself as partly an emigré, a Canadian working in the U.S. and now spends an increasing amount of his time in New York. During the festival, he spoke about his forthcoming projects – “Ship Breaker and “Ranger’s Apprentice,” his first major feature film directing gigs since 2007.

Pavel Lungin, one of Russia’s best-known directors, moved to Paris many years ago and his productions have received criticism from both the left and right. He now plans a major production about the gulag labor camp during the Stalin dictatorship.

Japanese director Shinya Tsukamoto, who recently starred in Martin Scorsese’s “Silence” explained how his provocative genre films have been deeply inspired by Scorsese’s work, commencing with the portrayal of the anti-hero in “Taxi Driver.”

Scorsese is seen by many as the godfather of the Marrakech Fest, and he also played a pivotal role in setting up the new ESAV film school in Marrakech. Scorsese is a close friend of Festival director Melita Toscan du Plantier and she explained that he takes a strong interest in each year’s edition, and encourages people to go and helps her contact several potential guests.

Scorsese last visited the fest in 2013 as jury president, but his commitment to world cinema has helped shape Marrakech’s unique atmosphere.

Morocco has been viewed by centuries as a cultural crossroads, that links North and South, East and West. The western kingdom provides access to the Arab world, which stretches out to Asia, and also to the African continent, while providing many bridges to Europe.

Choosing Russia for the country tribute also created a bridge between Europe and Asia in this year’s edition, which was emphasized during the tribute ceremony.

Another important aspect of this year’s edition was a strong focus on the interplay between directors and actors, with several guests talking about how directors can get the best from their actors. Two French actress legends attended this year’s edition – Isabelle Huppert and Isabelle Adjani. Huppert has won three major U.S. best actress awards over recent weeks and is a potential contender for an Academy Award nomination for “Elle.”

Adjani has won more Cesar best actress plaudits than any other French actress and during her career tribute said that great directors are like astronomers, capturing a unique light from the stars that they work with.

Marrakech’s artistic director Bruno Barde, said that “each year’s festival is like a script that I have written. There is a link between everything. This year we find a deep spirit of resistance in the films we’re screening. The films emphasise freedom of choice and the freedom to love. The choice of religion, partner, sexuality, country. The desire of how we want to live our lives.”

Barde considers that under Bela Tarr’s presidency, there was a strong authorial imprint on Marrakech 2016, including the aforementioned helmers and directors such as Bille August, Lisandro Alonso, and Bruno Dumont.

“Over recent years Marrakech has reinforced its positioning as the ‘home of filmmakers’,” he beamed.

The Russian tribute also offered the chance to highlight the achievements of some of the most important directors in the history of cinema, such as Eisenstein, Tarkovsky and Sokurov.

“Russia is a pivotal player on the world stage,” explained Barde. “Russia has a bit of everything. It has given to some of the greatest artists to the world, in the fields of music, painting, literature and cinema. Our vocation at Marrakech is to welcome all cultures. They enrich us. One of the key problems facing the world at present is acceptance of the other – from all parts of the world. Art plays a key role in this process. It shows the path to welcoming others.”

Barde also considers that the Russian tribute marks a landmark moment in the festival’s country tributes and the organizers are now considering other possible modalities, such as a tribute to a key filmmaker – such as Hitchcock, and his disciples, such as Brian de Palma.

Barde considers that although many directors and actors are now migrating towards television series, he still believes that cinema has a greater capacity to say the unsayable.

In terms of cinema, he nonetheless maintains an eclectic approach which includes both mainstream productions and auteur films, as demonstrated by the fact that the new Russian films screened at the fest included Mizguirev’s epic “The Duellist” and Tverdovsky’s “Zoology,” in official competition.

Fest director Melita Toscan du Plantier commented that in addition to the godfather role played by Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola played a key role in bolstering the festival last year, an edition that took place in the wake of the Paris attacks, with the risk of many cancellations due to the fear of possible terrorism.

Last year’s jury, headed by Coppola, awarded an ex-aequo best film prize to all films in competition. After the closing night ceremony, she said that Coppola spent 10-15 minutes with each director.

Toscan du Plantier observed that the fear of terrorism still lingers in people’s minds and in certain cases can dissuade some people from coming, but that the existence of supporters such as Scorsese and Coppola helps assuage concerns.

“Right from the beginning Martin Scorsese said that this festival should be a celebration of cinema and that we shouldn’t pay people to come as guests. If you have great directors visiting the festival you can get great actors. I maintain my relationship with directors throughout the year. And if you have a friend like Martin Scorsese he can help me by sending out some emails to directors, saying ‘you should go, you’ll love it’, that has made all the difference.”

Toscan du Plantier liaises with the Moroccan authorities throughout the year: “I help foreign producers by putting them into contact with the local authorities for permits.”

The Marrakech Film Foundation’s two vice presidents are Sarim Fassi Fihri, head of the Moroccan Cinema Center, and Faical Laraichi, head of Moroccan pubcaster SNRT.

“A film festival is always a work in progress,” explains Laraichi. “You can never say that you’ve perfected the conception of the festival, that you have reached cruising speed. We will always have to push ourselves. This is our real challenge, to avoid remaining inside a comfort zone.”

Both Laraichi and Fassi Fir explained that the festival offers a window onto the world and a chance to see films that can’t be seen during most of the year. This is important for foreign guests and also for the domestic audience and they consider that the festival has played a key educational function in Morocco.

“Our core philosophy in Morocco is to try to discover other people and let other people discover us, that is the motto of the Marrakech film fest.” Laraichi concluded.

The Marrakech Film Festival has its closing ceremony tonight, Dec. 10.

Morocco Showcases Anti-Terrorism Strategy At European Parliament

Western Sahara Worldnews - Sat, 12/10/2016 - 00:02

The North Africa Post

Morocco’s anticipatory counter terrorism strategy and its role in international security cooperation were highlighted, on Thursday in Brussels, at a conference in the European Parliament.

The presentation was made by a senior official from Morocco’s interior ministry in the presence of members of the European parliament and diplomats who followed some of the landmarks of the Kingdom’s security strategy which is underpinned by a comprehensive approach.

In this respect, it was stressed that coercion alone is not enough to tackle the root causes of terrorism, Morocco’s news agency (MAP) reported.

The serious threat of terrorism requires a multidimensional approach that combines legal considerations and the reform of the religious sphere as well as social and economic incentives.

In this respect, Morocco undertook a reform of its penal code in line with international law and human rights as they are universally recognized. Several measures were taken to criminalize justifications of terrorism and to fight money laundering. The creation of the Central Bureau of Judicial Investigations (BCIJ), known as Morocco’s FBI, came to reinforce the legal and security anti-terrorism efforts.

At the religious level, Morocco launched an ambitious project to upgrade the religious sphere in order to safeguard the Moroccan society from extremism and radicalism. In this regards, Imams have been trained to champion the lofty values of Islam, those of tolerance and coexistence.

Social and economic initiatives were also taken to promote the social integration of the poor who are usually the best target for recruitment by radicals. The participants at the conference cast light on the National Initiative for Human Development (INDH) which was launched by King Mohammed VI in 2005.

Speaking on this occasion, EU Counter-terrorism Coordinator, Giles de kerchove commended Morocco’s experience in the fight against terrorism and its commitment alongside its European partners to counter this global calamity.

For his part, Ahmed Reda Chami, Morocco’s Ambassador to the EU, said that the EU is interested in further strengthening ties with Morocco in countering terrorism.

North Africa Post’s news desk is composed of journalists and editors, who are constantly working to provide new and accurate stories to NAP readers.

Méditel Rebrands As Orange In Morocco

Western Sahara Worldnews - Fri, 12/09/2016 - 23:06

Capacity Media
by James Pearce

Orange has ditched the Méditel brand in Morocco in favour of its own global branding.

Orange first bought a 40% stake in Méditel for €640 million in 2010 and increased this to 49% last year. In June 2015 it became the first operator to launch 4G services in Morocco.

The new Orange in Morocco has a 14.2 million mobile base and contributes €500 million revenue to Orange Group, around 10% of the MEA region’s total, Orange said. It also owns a fibre network of more than 5,400km and has more than 4,000 radio sites, covering more than 99% of the country’s population with 2G and 3G.

Yves Gauthier, CEO of Orange Maroc, added: “Our customers’ uses are evolving. Today, the Moroccan market is at a decisive turning point, and the challenge for us is to support the country’s digital development. Our goal is to continue the excellent work already accomplished in this field in recent years and to make Orange a standard-bearer for the telecoms market in Morocco.”

Orange chairman and CEO Stéphane Richard added: “”Our goal is to offer fixed and mobile digital services under a single brand, Orange, and to strengthen our position in Africa and the Middle East. We are delighted that Méditel is becoming Orange at a time when the Moroccan market is firmly turning toward digitisation.

“From today, the Orange brand serves over 55 million Arab-speaking customers across this region, which will strengthen our leadership and help us continue to invest in providing exceptional quality of service, and a unique and incomparable experience to Orange customers in this strategically important region for our group.”


Morocco Requests Another Batch Of TOW Missiles

Western Sahara Worldnews - Fri, 12/09/2016 - 22:59

IHS Jane’s 360
Jeremy Binnie, London – IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly

The US State Department has approved a Moroccan request for 1,200 BGM-71-4B-RF wireless TOW 2A anti-tank missiles worth an estimated USD108, the Defence Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) announced on 8 December.

The DSCA said the missiles will “advance Morocco’s efforts to develop an integrated ground defence capability”.

The DSCA announced on 18 November 2015 that the State Department had approved the sale to Morocco of 600 BGM-71E-4B-RF missiles and 300 M220A2 launchers worth an estimated USD96 million.

A Chinese General In Command Of MINURSO

Western Sahara Worldnews - Fri, 12/09/2016 - 00:10

The North Africa Post

The UN Chief has appointed China’s General Wang XiAojun at the helm of the UN mission in the Sahara, known as the MINURSO.

UN Spokesperson Farhan Haq confirmed the news that Wang XiAojun will replace Pakistan’s Muhammad Tayyab Azam who ended his mandate on November 7, 2016.

With a 40-year military experience in China and globally, Wang XiAojun served as a military attaché in numerous Chinese embassies, including those in Brazil, India, Sweden and the US (2006-2016).

Morocco and the UN reached an agreement to restore the MINURSO functionality after the Kingdom expelled the 84 international civilian MINURSO members.

Morocco took the decision in reaction to the verbal blunders by the UN Secretary General who visited the separatists’ rear-base of Tindouf where he referred to Morocco’s retrieval of its southern provinces as “occupation”.

The MINURSO was established following a UN-brokered ceasefire in 1991 that put an end to a guerrilla war waged by the Algerian-based Polisario front on Moroccan troops. The UN mission was tasked with organizing a referendum, which never took place because of disagreements over who is eligible to vote. Since then, cease-fire monitoring as well as other military tasks constitute the bulk of the MINURSO’s tasks.

North Africa Post’s news desk is composed of journalists and editors, who are constantly working to provide new and accurate stories to NAP readers.

Méditel Becomes Orange In Morocco

Western Sahara Worldnews - Thu, 12/08/2016 - 23:57

Developing Telecoms
James Barton

Moroccan operator Méditel is rebranding as Orange in the market.

With 14.2 million customers at the end of September 2016, Orange’s Moroccan subsidiary brings together the second largest number of customers within the Group’s Middle East and African footprint, after Orange Egypt. It contributes close to 10% of revenues in this region.

Stéphane Richard, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Orange, said: “Our goal is to offer fixed and mobile digital services under a single brand, Orange, and to strengthen our position in Africa and the Middle East. From today, the Orange brand serves over 55 million Arab-speaking customers across this region.”

Yves Gauthier, CEO of Orange in Morocco, added: “Today, the Moroccan market is at a decisive turning point, and the challenge for us is to support the country’s digital development. We want to be the operator that gives its customers a unique connected experience and that is always there for its customers in their day-to-day connected lives, no matter what their needs or desires.”

Formed in 1999, Méditel made telecoms services widely available in Morocco over both fixed and mobile networks. Méditel continuously invests in its network, which includes more than 5,400 kilometres of optical fibre and more than 4,000 radio sites throughout the Kingdom. Méditel’s 2G and 3G networks provide coverage for 99% of the population. In March 2015, the Moroccan regulator assigned one of the three 4G licenses to the operator. It was the first operator to launch a 4G service, in June 2015, and now provides coverage for 42% of the population.

The Orange Group has backed Méditel since December 2010, when it acquired 40% of the company. Orange has held 49% of Méditel’s capital since July 2015 and consolidates its financial results in the Group’s financial statements.

Orange is present in 29 countries across the globe, including 21 countries in Africa and the Middle East.

Morocco To Issue First Sukuk In First Half Of 2017 – Minister

Western Sahara Worldnews - Thu, 12/08/2016 - 17:47

by Aziz El Yaakoubi

Morocco will issue its first ever Islamic bond in the domestic market in the first half of 2017, the finance minister said on Thursday.

Mohamed Boussaid told Reuters the size of the sukuk, which will coincide with the launch of a market for Islamic banking, has yet to be decided.

Islamic banks and insurers are setting up in Morocco after it adopted legislation allowing them into the domestic market. The central bank has set up a central sharia board with the country’s body of Islamic scholars to oversee the new industry.

The North African country had long rejected Islamic banking due to concerns about Islamist movements, but its financial market lacks liquidity and foreign investors, both of which Islamic finance could attract.

Islamic finance has been growing rapidly over the past decade as it broadens its investor base across the Middle East, North Africa and southeast Asia.

It is based on religious principles that eschew interest and pure monetary speculation.

(Reporting by Aziz El Yaakoubi; Writing by Aidan Lewis; editing by John Stonestreet)

Kenyan Amina Mohamed’s Blunder in the Tindouf Quagmire

Sahara News - Thu, 12/08/2016 - 16:16
Kenya’s Foreign Minister Amina Mohamed made an odd trip to the Tindouf camps in southwestern Algeria on Sunday, December 4, while she is in the midst of her campaign for the presidency of the African Commission, currently held by South African Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. The Kenyan official, who is vying for the much coveted position, seems […]

Western Sahara: Nouakchott Allows Polisario to Spy on Moroccan Forces from Guerguerat Buffer Zone

Western Sahara Worldnews - Thu, 12/08/2016 - 13:50

The North Africa Post

The Mauritania regime has again irritated Rabat after it allowed the Polisario Front to send militaries to spy on Moroccan forces from the military buffer zone of Guerguerat located between the two counties.

Polisario elements were allowed to sneak into La Güera small town through the Mauritania side, Moroccan daily Al Massae reported.

The act is another provocation by Nouakchott and an expression of its unfriendly behavior towards Morocco, said the daily, adding that not only the separatist movement took pictures of the area but it celebrated the move as “a victory.”

La Güera is a small town at Guerguerat military buffer zone between Mauritania and Morocco.

According to the Moroccan daily, the Polisario intends to position sentinels in the zone, just few meters away from Moroccan military positions.

Nouakchott, under President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, has shifted from its neutrality in the Sahara issue to a supporter of the separatist movement whose leaders, including Brahim Ghali, are currently under Spanish arrest warrants over alleged war crimes and human rights abuses.

President Ould Abdel Aziz recently offered the separatist front a piece of land to build its embassy in the Mauritania capital. The Mauritanian regime is thus aligning itself with Algeria, the Polisario’s mentor and staunch supporter, which has been perpetuating the Sahara conflict for over 40 years, and will be the first Arab country to grant the movement such an official status.


Kamailoudini Tagba Independent Journalist, Freelance Interpreter and Toastmasters International Competent Communicator (CC), speech writer, based in Togo, West Africa Attended Central China Normal University (China), MA in Linguistics and Communication. Kamailoudini Tagba is UNESCO scholarship Alumni, interested in International Relations studies and Security Studies.

Kamailoudini Tagba, trained as journalist at Togo state radio, worked for the African Network of Culture Promoters and Entrepreneurs (rapec) as news writer. Studying to become Middle and Near East Politics expert for Africa

Moody’s Affirms Credit du Maroc’s Ba1 Local Currency Deposit Ratings; Outlook Stable

Western Sahara Worldnews - Thu, 12/08/2016 - 13:38

CPI Financial
by Matthew Amlôt

Moody’s Investors Service, (“Moody’s”) has today affirmed the Ba1/NP local-currency deposit ratings of Credit du Maroc (CdM). Moody’s also affirmed Credit du Maroc’s ba3 baseline credit assessment (BCA), its ba1 adjusted BCA and its Ba2/NP foreign currency deposit ratings, which are constraint by the relevant country ceiling. The overall outlook of the issuer remains stable.

Africa: Algerian Diplomacy Multiplies Blunders Because of the Polisario

Polisario-confidential - Thu, 12/08/2016 - 11:44
Algeria would do anything for the sake of the Polisario Front, should it make itself totally ridiculous. Destabilized by the Moroccan diplomatic offensive in Africa, Algerian leaders have repeatedly tried to reach out to the Continent, but all their attempts proved fruitless and sometimes ended up in a bitter fiasco. This is precisely what happened […]

Hollywood Studio Executives Flock To Morocco, The Arab World’s Favored Filming Destination

Western Sahara Worldnews - Thu, 12/08/2016 - 07:51

Elsa Keslassy
International Correspondent

With tensions spreading across the Arab world, in particular in the Middle East and Southwestern Asia throughout 2016, Morocco proved, more than ever, the go-to destination for foreign filmmakers.

Indeed, Morocco managed to draw a large volume of foreign films and series, including many high-profile U.S. productions in 2016, in spite of the fact that the much-anticipated tax incentive failed to kick in at the start of the year.

Among the biggest productions that chose Morocco were Brad Anderson’s “High Wire Act” with Rosamund Pike and Jon Hamm, Alexandre Moors’s “The Yellow Birds” with Jennifer Aniston, Per Fly’s “Backstabbing For Beginners” with Ben Kingsley, Jason Hall’s “Thank You for Your Services” with Amy Schumer, as well as the trailers for “The Mummy” and “Allied,” and episodes of “Prison Break,””The Missing,””Viking” and “Homeland.”

It’s been a hectic year for K Films’ Khadija Alami and Karim Debbagh, two of Morocco’s top exec producers. “All the turmoils in the world ironically brought us many projects,” said Debbagh.

A war drama, “The Yellow Birds,” for instance, was expected to shoot in Jordan but ended up filming in Morocco because Jordan would not allow the flying in of army hardware mockups, per Debbagh. “The production built a village and a military basis in Marrakech,” revealed the producer, who served as line producer on the film which will world premiere at Sundance.

Tarik Saleh’s thriller “The Nile Hilton Incident,” was supposed to shoot in Egypt but the whole crew was kicked out just before the start of the filming by the Egyptian secret services. Another production, “Backstabbing For Beginners,” was supposed to shoot in Iraq and also had to relocate to Marrakech and Casablanca. Same with “Highwire Act” which was due to lense in Liban and relocated to Tangier, explained Debbagh.

Alami, meanwhile, said “Prison Break” (season 5) was supposed to shoot in Yemen, “The Missing” (season 2) in the Middle East and “Homeland” (season 6) in the Gaza Strip.

The economic impact of these shoots in Morocco is highly significant. “Homeland” for example shot for 8 days in the country and spent approximately $1.8 million. And the production also tapped 120 Moroccan crew members, according to Alami.

The volume of foreign productions coming to Morocco is expected to grow in 2017 as a 20% tax break regime is expected to be enacted by the end of the year and should start applying on Jan. 1 to all eligible foreign productions. CCM prexy Sarim Fahri Fissi said the cap of the rebate has not yet been decided on. One of the bonuses of the incentive will be the 10% rebate on above-the-line costs, according to Fahri Fissi.

“The producers of ‘Homeland’ promised they would return to Morocco and shoot here for 100 days if the incentive was passed,” said Alami, who was recently tapped to co-produce Matthew Parkhill and Simon Maxwell (“American Odyssey”)’s espionage thriller “The Nine,” Fox Networks Group Europe and Africa’s first scripted commission for the region.

The series will start lensing next year on location in Morocco. In parallel, Alami is building a studio which will spread over 17 acres and include one sound stage.

But even without the rebate, the country has remained a convenient shooting destination for various reasons: Foreign crews are exempt from paying VAT (20%) and that applies to materials and filming services used; productions can access a diversity of decors (ranging from mountains to the desert and the Atlantic seaside) and finally, local crews are highly skilled, can work long hours and are fairly cheap, which means U.S. productions can staff with locals instead of flying in their entire crews, argued Fahri Fissi.

Aiming to further promote the country and lure even more U.S. shoots, the CCM (the National Film Board) invited for the first time a delegation of top-level U.S. executives, including Gary French, senior VP of production at Touchstone Television Productions, Gary Goodman, executive VP of productions at Lionsgate, and Mark Binke, NBC Universal’s exec VP of production, during Marrakech International Film Festival.

Treated like royalty, the Hollywood executives got to visit a wide range of locations, from the desert to the iconic Ouarzazate studios and Marrakech city center, assess local resources and the crew base, depth as well as meeting local line producers.

The delegation was put together with the help of Richard Lance Smotkin, Comcast senior VP of global government affairs, who’s been working for two years with the CCM and government officials to get the tax incentive up and running.

“Without an incentive these guys won’t look at any locations and that why Morocco has been getting a lot of pieces of the pie and it’s missed out on the big pie,” said Smotkin, Comcast’s senior VP of global government affairs.

Smotkin said the incentive program was just passed by the Parliement. “We’re just waiting for the new government to be formed and the new communications minister to be appointed,” said the exec, who also cited the support of the Morocco’s King Mohammed VI.

Besides promoting the new tax incentives and the country’s locations, changing perceptions was another goal of the trip. “We know this is not the Middle East, so one of the reasons we put this trip together was to show the executives from American studios what Morocco is and what it can offer; for instance not many people know it’s only a 6 hour flight from New York,” said Smotkin.

“Morocco has a long and successful history of filming, and it seems to be the most moderate and liberate place in the Arab world, we don’t feel that we’re not a 100% safe or welcome here; that’s essential because we have to convince creative people as well as our on-camera people and at this point, we feel very comfortable,” said Goodman.

French argued U.S. producers are increasingly looking to shoot beyond U.S. borders for creative reasons as well.

“We shoot in Israel and the Middle East too, our business is becoming more and more global partly because of tax incentives, and also party because of our desire to show new and diverse locations,” said French.

“The U.S. can substitute for a lot of the world but not all of it. Creatively we have a desire to shoot in these new locations, pointed out French.

Binke concurred. “There’s nothing like being in the authentic locale.”

“We were just having lunch on a rooftop in the Medina and we were saying that the view from the mountains to the roofs to the shops would cost us $5 million to recreate it and here you just have to point the camera — That’s very valuable to filmmakers,” said Binke.

Nigeria, Morocco Agree To Build Natural Gas Pipeline

Western Sahara Worldnews - Wed, 12/07/2016 - 14:20

Associated Press

Nigeria and Morocco say they have agreed to build a pipeline to carry Nigerian natural gas to North Africa and Europe in a major initiative to boost energy production and create industrial hubs to attract foreign investment.

A statement Wednesday says the two countries’ sovereign wealth funds will jointly develop the pipeline to run about 4,000 kilometers (2,500 miles) along the West African coast from Nigeria to Morocco on a route yet to be decided.

Coastal countries include Benin, Togo, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Gambia, Senegal and Mauritania. The coastline then runs through the disputed territory of Western Sahara before reaching Morocco.

The agreement was signed during a visit to Nigeria this week by King Mohammed VI of Morocco, who has been touring several African countries.

CGG Achieves Near Real-Time Imaging For Offshore Morocco Survey

Western Sahara Worldnews - Wed, 12/07/2016 - 13:45

Scandinavian Oil & Gas

CGG has announced the delivery of near real-time imaging results for a 4,200 sq km BroadSeis 3D marine seismic survey acquired offshore Morocco. CGG delivered the very-fast-track (VFT) RTM PSDM volume to the client only 4 days after the last shot.

This technical feat crowned an excellent operational performance by the crew of the CGG, Geo Caspian, who worked in a safe, collaborative and effective partnership with the client to complete the program ahead of schedule.

Jean-Georges Malcor, CEO, CGG, says, “This exceptional achievement surpasses our record last year when we delivered 1,700 sq km of fast-track depth imaging data just 9 days after acquisition for another survey offshore Morocco for the same client. It reflects the dedication of our offshore and onshore experts to go the extra mile to deliver results that continue to exceed our clients’ expectations.”

Morocco Says Four Migrants Drown, 34 Rescued

Western Sahara Worldnews - Wed, 12/07/2016 - 12:10

By Aziz El Yaakoubi

Four African migrants drowned and 34 were rescued after their boat sank in the Mediterranean on Wednesday, Moroccan authorities said.

The Mediterranean between Morocco and Spain was a major route around 10 years ago for migrants from Africa trying to reach Europe, but numbers fell after the two kingdoms tightened control.

Moroccan authorities said the group was on an inflatable boat off the northern city of Al-Hoceima, a statement carried by state news agency MAP said.

It was unclear if the boat was heading to Spain or to one of the Spanish enclaves, Ceuta and Melilla, on the Moroccan coast.

Morocco said an investigation was still underway.

Hundreds of African migrants try regularly to enter the two enclaves either by swimming along the coast or climbing the triple walls that separate them from Morocco.

In 2015, 3,845 migrants entered Spain via sea crossings, according to the International Organization for Migration, a tiny fraction of the 956,000 that reached the rest of Europe the same way.

(Reporting By Aziz El Yaakoubi Editing by Jeremy Gaunt)

World Bank, Ithmar Capital Partner To Launch Africa Green Fund

Western Sahara Worldnews - Wed, 12/07/2016 - 11:54

Africa Business Communities

The World Bank Group and Ithmar Capital, a Moroccan Sovereign Investment Fund, have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding relating to the establishment of a Green Growth Infrastructure Facility for Africa (GGIF Africa), the first pan-African fund dedicated to green investment in the continent.

GGIF will be structured as private capital fund and its objective is to attract private investors with interest in Morocco or Africa who are looking for responsible and green investment opportunities.

Its aim is to work as a catalyst for the transition of Africa into a green economy by supporting low carbon infrastructure such as clean energy, low carbon transportation and the efficient utilization of water resources.

GGIF will be sponsored by the World Bank and Ithmar Capital. This dual-sponsoring will allow the fund to benefit from the strengths of these two organisations; the World Bank with its expertise in fund establishment and policy work, and Ithmar Capital through its network of partners and experience in co-investment structuring.

GGIF will also include a Public Private Partnership (PPP) unit that will focus on the origination of viable projects in collaboration with Government agencies. This will result in a consolidation of PPPs in the targeted countries.

Both the parties will work together in close partnership with a broad range of public and private investors, including Regional Development Banks, Sovereign Wealth Funds, and global and regional institutional investors, to increase private capital participation in green infrastructure investments across the continent.

As well as leveraging private capital flows for investment in environmentally sustainable infrastructure, the GGIF will focus on reducing the risk of marginally non-bankable projects in order to render them viable.

Tools will include innovative mechanisms for project preparation and capital structures. Relying on its growing economy and European proximity, Morocco is working to become competititive.



Hill International to Manage Construction of New Facility at APM Terminals MedPort Tangier Container Terminal in Morocco

Western Sahara Worldnews - Tue, 12/06/2016 - 22:47


Hill International (NYSE:HIL), the global leader in managing construction risk, announced today that it has received a contract from APM Terminals MedPort Tangier S.A. to provide project management and supervision engineering services during the construction of a new container facility at the Tangier-Med Port Container Terminal in Morocco. The two-year contract has an estimated value to Hill of between approximately €5.4 million ($6 million) to €6.7 million ($7.4 million).

The Tangier-Med Port complex is one of the largest ports in Africa. It is constructed on the Straits of Gibraltar, a central artery of global shipping with over 200 vessels a day passing through carrying trade between Asia, Europe, Africa and the Americas. APM Terminals MedPort Tangier is an international container terminal operator and part of the Dutch-based APM Terminals global terminal network – one of the world’s leading port operators. www.apmterminals.com

“We are honored that APM Terminals MedPort Tangier has chosen Hill to assist with this important project,” said Waleed Abdel-Fattah, Senior Vice President and Managing Director (Africa) for Hill’s Project Management Group. “We are confident that our team will deliver on all expectations,” Abdel-Fattah added.

Hill International, with 4,400 professionals in 100 offices worldwide, provides program management, project management, construction management, construction claims and other consulting services primarily to the buildings, transportation, environmental, energy and industrial markets.

Engineering News-Record magazine recently ranked Hill as the eighth largest construction management firm in the United States.
Source: Hill International, Inc.