Western sahara Major events

Moroccan Property Firm Alliances Developpement Makes 2016 Profit

Western Sahara Worldnews - Fri, 03/31/2017 - 07:23

Reuters
by Samia Errazzouki

Moroccan property developer Alliances Developpement posted a net profit of 144 million dirhams ($14 million) in 2016, recovering from a record loss of 1.8 billion dirhams in 2015 after a debt restructuring.

Alliances’ debt dropped by 50 percent to 1.78 billion dirhams in 2016, from 3.43 billion dirhams in 2015, the company said in a statement published in L’Economiste newspaper on Friday.

(Reporting by Samia Errazzouki; editing by Alexander Smith)

Morocco’s BMCE Bank Posts 4 Pct Rise In Net Profit For 2016

Western Sahara Worldnews - Thu, 03/30/2017 - 18:52

Reuters
by Samia Errazzouki

Moroccan lender BMCE Bank of Africa said on Thursday its net profit rose 4 percent in 2016, reaching a record 2 billion dirhams ($204 million).

BMCE cited growth in banking activities as the reason for the profit boost, in a statement carried by L’Economiste newspaper.

(Reporting by Samia Errazzouki, editing by David Evans)

Morocco’s BMCE Bank Reports Record Net Profit For 2016

Western Sahara Worldnews - Thu, 03/30/2017 - 14:57

Reuters
by Samia Errazzouki

Moroccan lender BMCE Bank of Africa said on Thursday its 2016 net profit rose 4 percent to a record 2 billion dirhams ($204 million) thanks to rising margins and commission income.

Consolidated net income rose 10 percent to 12.99 billion dirhams last year, the bank said in a statement published by L’Economiste newspaper.

Income from interest and commissions made up 87 percent of the bank’s income, BMCE said, while costs to cover risks rose 12 percent to 1.6 billion dirhams. It did not give details.

BMCE, like other big lenders in Morocco, has faced higher risks in sub-Saharan Africa where it has been expanding aggressively, as well as bad loans in its home market after years of economic turmoil following the financial crisis and Arab spring.

Total bad loans rose to 8.8 billion dirhams from 7.3 billion dirhams at the end of 2015, data from the bank showed.

BMCE’s return on equity (ROE) was 12.6 percent in 2016, down from 13 percent in 2015. Total assets jumped 9.5 percent to 305.92 billion dirhams, the bank said.

Sub-Saharan subsidiaries Bank of Africa, La Congolaise de Banque and Banque de Developpement du Mali contributed 32 percent to BMCE’s profit, the bank said.

Last month, Moody’s changed BMCE’s outlook to stable from negative.

Along with other Moroccan banks, BMCE is preparing to launch an Islamic subsidiary after the authorities gave the go-ahead to establish Islamic banks and issue sukuk, or Islamic bonds.

BMCE Bank has picked Bahrain-based Al Baraka Banking Group as its Islamic banking partner.⁠⁠⁠⁠

(Reporting by Samia Errazzouki, editing by David Evans and Susan Fenton)

Moroccan Builder Addoha Reports 18 Pct Rise In 2016 Net Profit

Western Sahara Worldnews - Thu, 03/30/2017 - 10:27

Reuters
by Aidan Lewis

Addoha, Morocco’s biggest property developer by market value, reported an 18 percent jump in net profit for 2016 to 1 billion dirhams ($100 million).

Gross margin rose to 34 percent last year from 28 percent in 2015 in the high-income segment, the company said in a statement published in L’Economiste newspaper on Thursday. Its operating margin rose slightly to 15.8 percent from 14.6 percent.

The company has been working to reduce debt in the past three years and bolster cashflow, it said. Operating cashflow increased slightly to 2.72 billion dirhams in 2016 from 2.48 billion dirhams a year earlier.

Sales revenue edged up 0.2 percent to 7.116 billion dirhams.

Addoha said it had sold 12,070 units in 2016, down from 17,510 in the same period of 2015. These included 5,742 housing units for high-end customers, up from 1,790 the year before. (Writing by Aidan Lewis; Editing by Susan Fenton and Edmund Blair)

Moroccan Builder Addoha Reports 18% Rise In 2016 Profit

Western Sahara Worldnews - Thu, 03/30/2017 - 07:32

Reuters
Real Estate

Addoha , Morocco’s biggest property developer by market value, reported an 18 percent jump in net profit for 2016 to 1 billion dirhams ($100 million).

Gross margin rose to 34 percent last year from 28 percent in 2015 in the high-income segment, the company said in a statement published in L’Economiste newspaper on Thursday. Its operating margin rose slightly to 15.8 percent from 14.6 percent.

The company has been working to reduce debt in the past three years and bolster cashflow, it said. Operating cashflow increased slightly to 2.72 billion dirhams in 2016 from 2.48 billion dirhams a year earlier.

Sales revenue edged up 0.2 percent to 7.116 billion dirhams.

Addoha said it had sold 12,070 units in 2016, down from 17,510 in the same period of 2015. These included 5,742 housing units for high-end customers, up from 1,790 the year before.

Pope Francis Surprises Muslim Moroccan Family In Milan

Western Sahara Worldnews - Thu, 03/30/2017 - 07:13

Al Arabiya
The Associated Press

Pope Francis focused his one-day visit last week to the wealthy northern Italian city of Milan on those marginalized by society, visiting families in a housing project and exhorting clergy and nuns gathered in a cathedral to minister to the peripheries.

During his visit to the housing project, the pope made private visits to three families: one couple in their 50s struggling with infirmity, members of a family in their 80s dealing with illness and a third family originally from Morocco that is engaged in teaching Arabic.

Mihoual Abdel Karim and his family warmly welcome the Pope into their home, offering him traditional sweets, taking a selfie with him and giving him gifts.

On 28-29 April, the Pope will be visiting Egypt, and he has also received an invitation to visit Lebanon.

http://www.moroccotomorrow.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Pope.mp4

The housing project on the edge of Italy’s wealthy finance and fashion capital is home to more than 1,000 people, including many elderly and foreigners living on the margins of society.

The papal itinerary, which also included a stop at the city’s main prison, underscored Francis’ view that the peripheries offer a better view of reality than the well-tended and prosperous city centres.

The visit to the world’s largest diocese, with more than five million faithful, and the home of his main competition in 2013 for the papacy, Cardinal Angelo Scola, marked a resumption of the pope’s regular pastoral visits after a yearlong hiatus because of the Jubilee Year of Mercy commitments in Rome.

Last Update: Thursday, 30 March 2017 KSA 16:56 – GMT 13:56

Morocco Looking To Diversify Cooperation With India: Envoy

Western Sahara Worldnews - Thu, 03/30/2017 - 05:21

Canindia

Morocco, fast emerging as north Africa’s economic leader and a major source of phosphates for India, is keen to diversify its cooperation with New Delhi and is looking forward to a key bilateral meeting in May to boost its partnership, the country’s envoy has said.

“The Morocco-India Joint Commission will convene on May 25-26 in Rabat. Both countries are also celebrating the 60th anniversary of the establishment of their diplomatic relations this year. The two countries have gone far in their cooperation which is being reinforced and diversified,” Morocco’s Ambassador to India Mohamed Maliki told IANS in an interview.

Referring to the “very warm and lengthy” meeting between Moroccan King Mohammed VI and Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the sidelines of the Third India-Africa Forum Summit in New Delhi in October 2015, the envoy said the two leaders decided to elevate bilateral ties to a Strategic Partnership and “instructed their governments to work to materialise the important decision”.

Both sides are now working to include new areas of cooperation to the partnership, besides the traditional ones of fertiliser, chemicals, automobiles, renewable energy and construction, among others, Maliki said.

“The two sides are exploring new areas in order to diversify their cooperation, especially in the economic sector,” he added.

“Relations between India and Morocco include not only trade but investment as well. India is the largest Asian recipient of Moroccan governmental investment. Indeed, thanks to the several joint ventures between OCP (Office Cherifien Phosphates Group) and India, investment is an important part of relations between the two sides,” Maliki said.

Maliki termed the India-Africa Forum Summit in October 2015 in New Delhi as not only a “remarkable milestone” in African-Indian relations but also a “significant milestone” due to the participation of the Moroccan King in the Summit. “The Indian government rightly decided that the Summit should not be convened without the participation of an important African country, which is Morocco.”

He said the return of Morocco to the African Union earlier this year after three decades would add momentum to Africa-India relations.

He said both sides are working on promoting tourism and cultural relations “while enabling more cooperation between the cultural institutions of the two countries and holding cultural events in India and Morocco”, leveraging particularly on the huge craze for Indian movies in Morocco.

“The commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations is yet another occasion to stress on the excellent relations between the two countries in all sectors, and an opportunity not only to celebrate but also to double the efforts in bringing together the two governments and peoples, that could lay the ground to further economic cooperation.”

Over the past few months, Moroccan King Mohammed VI has been touring the African continent, accompanied by business delegations, that has resulted in initiatives in the fertilser sector, infrastructure, and in energy.

The kingdom is keen to position itself as the gateway to Africa.

“Rich with their cumulative experiences, India and Morocco can join their efforts and launch initiatives towards the African countries and thereby contribute to South-South cooperation,” the envoy added.

(Ranjana Narayan can be reached at ranjana.n@ians.in)

–IANS

Morocco Tops Africa Capacity Index 2016 For STI

Western Sahara Worldnews - Thu, 03/30/2017 - 05:08

Ghana Business News
By Pamela Ofori-Boateng

Morocco is the leader in Capacity Building in Africa in the area of Science,Technology and Innovation (STI), for the year 2016, according to the latest Africa Capacity Report (ACR), 2017.

The report released by the African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF), surveyed 44 African countries, measured and empirically assessed capacity against the development agenda in African countries.

The results for the African Capacity Building Index (ACI), were generally satisfactory as the ACI value ranged from 71.6 (Morocco) to 33.1 (Central African Republic), it said.

The ACR, noted that more efforts will be required for countries to move into the Very High Bracket in the index since no country reached the Very High extremes of capacity for the year under review.

Majority of the countries, the report pointed out have a medium capacity as out of the 44 countries surveyed, most (74 per cent) fell within the medium bracket, 20.5 per cent were in the High bracket, and 4.5 per cent were in the low bracket, it noted.

The report further says the best performance was in gender equality and social inclusion, for which there were no countries in the Low or Very Low brackets.

The indicators according to the report, depicts that Africa is making gradual process in developing its capacity for STI, despite the numerous challenges confronting it.

Adding to that, African countries have a long way to go in improving the outcome of capacity development, given that capacity-needs assessments are not the priority for most of them.

The report identified brain drain or mass migration of African skilled scientists and other experts as one of the factors impeding the development of STI in Africa.

ACBF plays a highly relevant role as it is well positioned to make an important difference through funding, interventions and technical assistance for capacity building projects and programmes to meet the needs of African member countries and non-state actors.

The ACR 2017 focuses on building capacity for STI in Africa. It also focuses on the capacity building imperatives for STI to accelerate Africa’s transformation

By Pamela Ofori-Boateng

Polisario, Algeria’s failure in Dakar

Polisario-confidential - Wed, 03/29/2017 - 11:50
The postponement sine die of the meeting of the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), initially scheduled for March 23-25 in Dakar, illustrates the new diplomatic showdown between Morocco and Algeria through the Polisario proxy. Above all, it reflects Rabat’s determination to forfend systematically all the blows of Algiers. Two months after its return to […]

Sahara: Polisario’s presence foils AU/ECA meeting in Dakar

Sahara News - Wed, 03/29/2017 - 11:46
A meeting of experts’ committees, jointly convened by the UN Economic  Commission for Africa (ECA) and the African Union (AU), was scheduled in Dakar on March 23-25, but it was postponed sine die last Saturday. The 10th Annual Conference of African Ministers of Finance and Planning, co-sponsored by the AU and the ECA, that was […]

Muslim Woman Founded World’s Oldest University

Western Sahara Worldnews - Wed, 03/29/2017 - 04:35

PopSugar
by Eleanor Sheehan

Don’t Get It Twisted: The Oldest University Was Founded by a Muslim Woman.

Muslim women have been transforming society since, well, at least 12 centuries ago. Founded in 859, the University of al-Qarawiyyin in Fez, Morocco, is the world’s oldest operating university — it was also endowed by a devout Muslim woman with her inheritance.

Fatima al-Fihri, who was Tunisian, donated the funds to open a mosque and madrasa (a school which teaches religious texts) in the mid ninth century, but the property was expanded to be a university by the tenth century. Now the stunning campus houses one of the world’s oldest libraries, which was recently restored after being kept private for scholarly use for hundreds of years.

According an Associated Press report on the library’s restoration, its collection of Islamic historical manuscripts is unparalleled. For example: al-Qarawiyyin’s library includes a ninth century Quran written in ancient Kufic calligraphy.

“The manuscripts are now kept in a secure room, with strict temperature and humidity control,” reported the AP in 2016 after the renovations were completed.

By 1947, the school was officially integrated into Morocco’s public education system, and in 1967, it became the University of al-Karaouine. Though European schools are often credited with being the first universities, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization considers al-Karaouine a university since its original inception as a madrasa — making it the oldest in history.

So, in honor of Muslim women everywhere, let’s attempt to make it abundantly clear who founded the first university: a Muslim woman in Morocco.

Ahead are some photos of the campus taken by users on Instagram.

Sound Energy Proves More Hydrocarbons In Morocco

Western Sahara Worldnews - Wed, 03/29/2017 - 04:23

Oil & Gas News

Sound Energy, the African and European focused upstream gas company, is pleased to announce the results of its third well at its Tendrara licence, onshore Morocco, which both establishes the Westward extension of the primary hydrocarbon system proven in Algeria into Morocco, and further confirms the potential of the TAGI play in-country.

The Company had previously announced that it had completed the drilling of TE-8 by reaching Target Depth for the well at 3,120 metres, some 359 metres into the Paelozoic (which was previously undrilled at Tendrara and Meridja). Sound Energy has now completed logging, including the use of the Saturn 3D Radial Probe MDT.

The Company is delighted to report that the TE-8 well has successfully identified and penetrated the full sequence of Westphalian sands in the Paleozoic (between 2,762 metres through to 3,120 metres) beneath an intraformational seal with gas shows observed during drilling. The Saturn MDT was unable to test these sands (the tool being unable to provide a reading given the rugosity of the hole and relative low permeability) however they are believed to be permeable and likely able to be produced across the Tendrara and Meridja licences with mechanical stimulation.

The existence of the Westphalian sands (a proven producing Paleozoic sequence in neighbouring Algeria) in a separate petroleum system establishes the Westward extension of the primary hydrocarbon system proven in Algeria into Morocco. The Company therefore confirms a material derisking of the 3 Tcf low case to 10 Tcf upside case original gas in place (gross) Paleozoic potential captured in Sound Energy’s Eastern Morocco preliminary volume estimates (announced on 1 February 2017*).

The Company also confirms the identification of the full sequence of thick TAGI reservoir sands (between 2,642 metres through to 2,762 metres) extending some 12 Km to the north-east of the Company’s previous two wells at Tendrara. Gas shows in the TE-8 well, confirm the presence of the four-way dip closed trap mapped on seismic. The Saturn MDT has confirmed the TAGI sands at the TE-8 location are likely tight and the extent of the gas column in TE-8 is therefore still under evaluation. The TE8 logging results are still consistent with a very significant single gas column across Tendrara and Meridija with a continuous extended structure, which can be validated with the TE1 re-entry.

The Company will now take sidewall core samples and then suspend TE-8 in preparation for future operations, which may include mechanical stimulation of this well or a sidetrack. The Company will also update its static geological models and volumetric evaluation. This is likely to include an immediate re-entry of the TE-1 well, in the South of the Tendrara licence area, drilled by Agip in 1966.

*As announced by the Company on 1 February 2017, the Company preliminarily estimates a range of volumes across the entire Tendrara and Meridja permit areas, with a 9 Tcf low case for unrisked original gas in place (gross) and, if all the key elements of the petroleum system’s model are present, an upside case of 31 Tcf of unrisked original gas in place (gross). The Company cautions that notwithstanding its internal estimates for the exploration potential of the Tendrara and Meridja permit areas (the “Basin”), further exploration activity, including the acquisition of additional 2D and 3D seismic and the requirement for further drilling, will be required to substantiate the estimated exploration potential of the Basin. A Competent Person’s Report to substantiate the Company’s estimated volumes is planned prior to Final Investment Decision at the end of 2017.

This announcement is inside information for the purposes of Article 7 of Regulation 596/2014.

James Parsons, the Company’s Chief Executive, commented:

“TE-8 is a highly significant well for the Company as we seek to derisk our transformational Eastern Morocco position.

Sound Energy’s first two wells at Tendrara unlocked the TAGI play. TE-8 has now established that the primary hydrocarbon system proven in Algeria extends into the more favourable Moroccan licence and fiscal regime.

I believe therefore that TE-8 will prove to be the Paleozoic play-opener in Morocco.

I am also pleased to confirm TAGI sands some 12 Km away from our previous discovery, which, although lower quality at this specific location, is expected to materially uplift our discovered volumes. We will provide an update to shareholders once our geological models have been updated and the sidewall core samples analysed.”

For more information, please visit: http://www.soundenergyplc.com

For more information on projects, please visit ProjectsOGP

Morocco Provokes Crisis By Blocking Western Sahara From AU Meeting

Western Sahara Worldnews - Tue, 03/28/2017 - 21:31

Middle East Eye
Malek Bachir

Two months after its return to African Union, Morocco has demanded exclusion of Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic from ministerial meeting.

Morocco sparked a diplomatic crisis on Friday by demanding the exclusion of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic from a meeting of the African Union and a UN commission, citing that it is not a UN member state.

The meeting of the AU and the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) was supposed to prepare for the arrival of African ministers of economy on 27 and 28 March.

The Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, or Western Sahara, is part of the AU but not part of the ECA and Morocco refuses to recognise SADR as a sovereign country.

The commission and the African Union announced on Saturday that as a consequence of Morocco’s move they had to postpone the ministerial meeting because the “conditions for the meeting have not being met”.

The representatives of the 54 African countries as well as partner countries and organisations who were there had not even begun looking at the issues.

“This crisis establishes a huge precedent. Morocco blew up the meeting,” a disappointed diplomat told Middle East Eye.

Neither behind-the-scenes negotiations, nor the threat of seeing several delegations leave, nor the exceptional arrival of the secretary-general of the ECA succeeded in making Rabat back down.

The Sahrawi independence movement and Morocco have been fighting over the Western Sahara since 1975, when the former colonial powers withdrew from the region without organising a referendum for the Sahrawi people, leaving the issue unresolved to this day.

Legal loophole

“We find ourselves in a complete stalemate because if the SADR had been excluded from proceedings, numerous delegations such as Nigeria, South Africa, or Algeria, heavyweights in the African Union, would have boycotted the meeting,” the diplomat added.

It is not the first time that Morocco has demanded that the SADR be excluded from multilateral proceedings. But previously, Morocco’s demands had been because the country was not part of the AU. However, Morocco rejoined the AU in January after leaving in protest in 1984 over the AU’s declarations on Western Sahara.

“This crisis is unsolvable because the SADR, though a member of the AU, is not a member of the ECA. Therefore the latter has no mandate to exclude it. We find ourselves facing a legal loophole,” the diplomat continued.

An Algerian judge close to the Sahrawi dossier, contacted by MEE, said: “The only thing the ECA can do to withdraw is to claim discord within the AU. For the rest, the argument raised by Morocco is not convincing. Indeed, sitting in the multilateral meeting with the SADR does not in any way oblige its recognition by the ECA or the UN. Algeria sits right next to Israel during UN meetings even though it will never recognise it.”

This crisis is unsolvable because the SADR, though a member of the AU, is not a member of the ECA

– Diplomat

According to the judge, the African Union Commission, an agent of the constitution of the organisation, has the power to “denounce Morocco by saying that it violates its international commitments since Rabat ratified the AU constitution without reservations. But the AU constitution has an obligation for states to respect and defend the independence of other member states. And to a certain extent, to prevent a member state such as the SADR from participating in multilateral proceedings is a limit to its independence.”

First signal to Addis Ababa

According to an African diplomat, Morocco “knows exactly what it is doing”.

“It couldn’t find a better place than Dakar because it knows that Senegal would support it. The objective was not to achieve the exclusion of the SADR today, but to mark the occasion. It is a way of saying: ‘We did not come back to the AU to let ourselves be pushed around’. In January, they arrived with big smiles. Then, they started to show their teeth.”

A signal was already sent on 20 March to Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital, where the AU is headquartered. Rabat boycotted the meeting of the African Union Peace and Security Council on the situation regarding the Western Sahara.

While the head of the Sahrawi diplomatic corp called it the first “failed” test, a Moroccan diplomatic source quoted by the information website Le Desk judged the meeting to be “unproductive and one-sided”.

At the time of Morocco’s return to the AU, the Algerian editorial writer Abed Charef had warned MEE that two options were possible: “Everyone is preparing for the next jousts. For Morocco, it will be either waging a diplomatic war to reconquer lost land, which could lead the African Union into new and never-ending battles, or to step into an area which allows openings, by using African Union resolutions as a starting point for a new policy. ”

The Dakar meeting has shown that Rabat has chosen the first approach.

This article was originally published on Middle East Eye’s French website.

Sound Energy Reports Annual Results And Updates On Tendrara Findings

Western Sahara Worldnews - Tue, 03/28/2017 - 16:42

London South East
By Joshua Warner

LONDON (Alliance News) – Sound Energy PLC on Tuesday said the third well to be drilled on the Tendrara licence onshore Morocco has confirmed the potential of the TAGI reservoir while establishing the proven hydrocarbon system in Algeria spreads into Morocco.

TE-8 was the third well to be drilled by Sound Energy, which was drilled to a target depth of 3,120 metres, some 258 metres into the Paelozoic.

“The company is delighted to report that the TE-8 well has successfully identified and penetrated the full sequence of Westphalian sands in the Paleozoic beneath an intraformational seal with gas shows observed during drilling,” said Sound Energy.

Sound Energy said it completed logging using the Saturn 3D Radial Probe MDT, but said that was unable to test those sands. However, they are believed to be permeable and likely able to be produced across the Tendrara and Meridja licences with mechanical stimulation, Sound said.

The existence of the Westphalian sands, a proven producing Paleozoic sequence in neighbouring Algeria, in a separate petroleum system establishes the westward extension of the primary hydrocarbon system proven in Algeria into Morocco.

“The company therefore confirms a material derisking of the 3.00 trillion cubic feet low case to 10.00 trillion cubic feet upside case original gas in place (gross) Paleozoic potential captured in Sound Energy’s Eastern Morocco preliminary volume estimates,” said Sound Energy.

The company also confirmed the identification of the full sequence of thick TAGI reservoir sands extending some 12 kilometres to the north-east of the company’s previous two wells at Tendrara.

“Gas shows in the TE-8 well, confirm the presence of the four-way dip closed trap mapped on seismic. The Saturn MDT has confirmed the TAGI sands at the TE-8 location are likely tight, and the extent of the gas column in TE-8 is therefore still under evaluation,” said Sound Energy.

“The TE8 logging results are still consistent with a very significant single gas column across Tendrara and Meridija with a continuous extended structure, which can be validated with the TE1 re-entry,” Sound Energy added.

The company will now take sidewall core samples and then suspend TE-8 in preparation for future operations, which may include mechanical stimulation of this well or a sidetrack. The company will update its static geological models and volumetric evaluation. Sound said “this is likely to include an immediate re-entry of the TE-1 well”.

Sound Energy also reported its 2016 annual results on Tuesday, posting a pretax loss of GBP15.2 million compared to the GBP18.3 million loss a year earlier, due to higher levels of impairments, rising operating costs and higher administrative expenses. Cash at the end of 2016 was at GBP46.8 million.

Sound Energy shares were down 0.9% at 83.0 pence per share on Tuesday.

By Joshua Warner; joshuawarner@alliancenews.com; @JoshAlliance

Copyright 2017 Alliance News Limited. All Rights Reserved.

Women Saving the Planet: Hakima El Haité of Morocco

Western Sahara Worldnews - Tue, 03/28/2017 - 14:40

Pacific Standard
By Lucia Graves

Hakima El Haité, host of COP22 in Marrakech, is a pioneer for women — in science and diplomacy, and above all in the struggle for climate justice.

Hakima El Haité is Morocco’s minister for the environment and host of COP22. (Illustration: Piotr Lesniak)

“I’m the most hated minister in the world,” Morocco’s environmental minister Hakima El Haité says with a laugh. “All the ministers of environment are hated you know? Because the ministers of environment are not very important in terms of protocol, but they are controlling everybody.”

El Haité is currently one up on her colleagues: They’re meeting in Marrakech, on her home turf. It’s November 18th, 2016, the last day of COP22, the annual United Nations climate summit, without a doubt the highest-profile event of her career, and spirits are running reasonably high, despite grim news out of America’s presidential election. What’s more, it’s clear that El Haité is well suited to her role.

Most environmental ministers are far more comfortable wearing their scientist hat, rather than that of statesman or spokesman. (Imagine the head of the Environmental Protection Agency orchestrating diplomatic talks on the world stage). But for two weeks each year, in whatever country has agreed to host climate talks, these scientists must double as the world’s top diplomats — and, in El Haité’s case, as a gracious host.

“Let it be clear, the fight for gender equality is not a matter of feminism, it is a societal matter.”
That she happens to be a woman in a Muslim country marks El Haité’s rise as all the more extraordinary, especially given that her qualifications set her apart in concentric male-dominated circles: She is a high-level Moroccan official; a doctor of science; a leader in the Arab world; and, now, chief overseer of global climate talks.

At 53, El Haité certainly has the bona fides to justify her impressively varied roles, both in the science-heavy realm of environmental policy and in the bluster-heavy one of international leadership. Born in Fes, she got her undergraduate degree in biology and microbiology from Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdellah University, also in Fes. But she didn’t stay there.

Instead, El Haité west to the United States, where she earned a degree in political communication in 2008, and then to France, where she completed a Ph.D. in environmental engineering from the École nationale supérieure des mines at Saint-Étienne, in 2010. Along the way, she held leadership roles in a number of organizations benefiting civil society, among them the Moroccan Association of Women Entrepreneurs and the International Network of Liberal Women, where she currently serves as vice president.

This story appears in the March/April 2017 issue of Pacific Standard.

Given a particularly difficult COP this past year, and especially one haunted by the specter of Donald Trump’s surprise victory, El Haité’s impressive background has stood her in good stead. In the overeducated, polyglot-elite bubble of the climate talks, it helps, for instance, that she’s trilingual: She can fend off questions about Trump in English, Arabic, or French.

But addressing audiences under the sloping white tents of COP22, El Haité appears to prefer the latter, slipping into English only at the behest of the occasional less linguistically accomplished reporter. “We should open the door for dialogue with the administration of the president,” she says of Trump in a characteristically diplomatic aside. “We have heard the candidate. Today we have to listen to the president. So we need more dialogue.”

Another area where more dialogue is needed, she says, is with women worldwide, and with women leaders especially. El Haité’s own advocacy around women and leadership is highly relevant at the Marrakech talks, where, despite a recent uptick in female representation among some of the COPs most visible roles, women still comprise a woefully small percentage of delegation heads — around one-third.

As El Haité explains in the final days of COP, as part of the Women Leaders and Global Transformation Summit in Marrakech, her views are less about women’s empowerment than good politics. “Who, other than us, mothers and grandmothers, understand better the challenges of providing food, water, and security to our children?” she asks her audience. “Let it be clear, the fight for gender equality is not a matter of feminism, it is a societal matter.”

In other words, in seeking climate solutions, we must incorporate the perspective and insights of women, or perish. It’s that simple — and that infinitely complex.

Yet, ever the politician, in private asides she repeatedly redirects all questions, seeking to talk up the success of her home country’s talks — in whatever language the moment requires.

On the last night of the Marrakech talks, long after the sky has gone black, she wants to explain to whatever reporters are still on the premises what she sees as the successful work of this year’s negotiation, and to remind us that the Marrakech talks, as with the Paris talks before them, were never really a destination; like the long red lines laid down by protesters along the Champs-Élysées following the signing of the 2015 agreement, they’re merely markers on the path forward.

As for the importance of having women in leadership at climate talks? As the rare female minister in a Muslim country, El Haité would rather talk about her job. “I really can’t tell you,” she says with a smile when I raise the subject. Pinching my cheeks, she shrugs in feigned helplessness as a coterie of staffers sweeps her out the doors of the half-abandoned media tent and into the night.

Morocco’s Stability Entices Chinese Investments, Global Risk Insights

Western Sahara Worldnews - Tue, 03/28/2017 - 04:50

The North Africa Post

The stability and location of Morocco at the crossroads between Europe and Africa are luring Chinese businesses eager to diversify their economic partners in Africa, says an article published on the website of Global Risk Insights, a global publication for political risk news and analysis.

The article, signed by Jeremy Luedi, sheds light on the steady development of economic ties between Morocco and China, notably following the boost given by the visit of King Mohammed VI to Beijing in 2016.

Economic ties are also reflecting the excellent political ties between the two countries marked by a mutual non-interference in internal issues. Both Morocco and China have been refraining from commenting on each other’s thorny issues notably those relating to their respective territorial integrity.

“Morocco is also becoming the default investment destination in North Africa, as the region continues to be unstable, with Morocco reaping the benefits of stability,” says Luedi, adding that “Alongside traditional exports to China such as phosphates, Morocco is seeing a tidal wave of Chinese investment in a host of sectors. Between 2011 and 2015 Chinese FDI in Morocco increased 195%, with a 93% increase between 2014 and 2015 alone. Since then things have only continued to accelerate.”

In this respect, the author enumerates the growing interest of Chinese firms in Morocco citing the setting up of an office of the Bank of China in Casablanca in March 2016 as part of Morocco’s Casablanca Finance City initiative. He also mentions the announcement by Yangtse Automobile of a $100 million investment (expected to create 2,000 jobs) in Tangier to produce electric cars and buses for export to Europe.

The article highlights as well the significance of the recently inaugurated joint venture between Chinese HAITE group and Morocco to build a $10 billion industry and technology hub in Tangier, which will create 100,000 jobs in the long run.

Morocco also sees new opportunities for its farm exports to China in its bid to diversify partners. The article points out that “given Morocco’s existing integration into EU food supply chains, Rabat is already beholden to high quality standards, a fact that appeals to many Chinese consumers. Indeed Chinese importers have cited Morocco’s ability to pass the EU Proficiency Test for Pesticide Residues as a seal of confidence.”

Moroccan tourism sector and culture are also attracting the Chinese, a trend witnessed even before Rabat’s decision to drop visa requirements for Chinese visitors in July 2016, as the 2016 National Day Travel Prediction Report had predicted a 3500% increase in visa applications to Morocco.

“By November 2016, Morocco saw a six fold increase in Chinese arrivals – a fact all the more impressive given that no direct flights exist between the two countries. With 42,000 Chinese tourists in 2016 – a 300% year-on-year increase from 2015 – Morocco has announced a goal of 100,000 visitors from the Middle Kingdom in 2017,” notes the author of the article.

As a result of this interest in the sector, Chinese investors from Guangzhou met with the Moroccan Society of Tourist Engineering in late February to discuss investments in hotels, resorts, spas and amusement parks, the article notes.

POSTED BY NORTH AFRICA POST

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.

Sound Energy Completes Third Well Drilling At Tendrara Licence In Onshore Morocco

Western Sahara Worldnews - Tue, 03/28/2017 - 04:42

Hydrocarbons Technology

Upstream gas company Sound Energy has announced that TE-8, the third well at the Tendrara licence located in onshore Morocco, was drilled to the final target depth at a measured depth (MD) of 3,120m.

The final vertical depth of the TE-8 was 3,066m, nearly 359m into the Paleozoic formation.

The company previously confirmed the identity of the presence of a TAGI sand sequence, starting from an MD of 2,643m containing gas.

Sound Energy also stated to have identified further gas shows during subsequent drilling operations at the property.

However, these should be taken as a positive initial indication, which can be confirmed only after further wireline logging and analysis.

Sound Energy will now advance with a full data acquisition programme containing five wireline logging runs, including the pressure and fluids sampling acquisition.

“Sound Energy will now advance with a full data acquisition programme containing five wireline logging runs, including the pressure and fluids sampling acquisition.”

The company will announce the final results of the well after the completion.

Sound Energy holds 55% working interest in the Tendara licence along with the operatorship.

The remaining 25% stake lies with ONHYM and 20% with Oil & Gas Investment Fund.

The first well (TE-6) was drilled at the property during the first half of last year to a measured vertical depth of 2,665m and encountered nearly 28m of net gas pay in the TAGI reservoir.

The second Tendara well (TE-7) was drilled to a total measured depth of 3,459m, carrying a vertical depth of 2,611m.

TE-7 has a total contact length through the TAGI reservoir of approximately 837m, which achieved a gas flow rate of 32MMscf/d, post stimulation.

Under The Radar: What’s Behind China’s Love Affair With Morocco?

Western Sahara Worldnews - Mon, 03/27/2017 - 03:13

Global Risk Insights
by Senior Analyst Jeremy Luedi

From trade to tourism, Morocco is quickly becoming a media darling in China, as the country’s stability, location and culture entice Chinese investment.

Chinese involvement and investment in Africa is well documented, with Beijing a major trading partner for the continent’s resource exporters. One of the latest countries to benefit from China’s attentions is Morocco, which is witnessing an unprecedented boom in bilateral relations. Morocco is quickly becoming an important partner for China on a range of issues: one can even say that Morocco-fever is gripping the Middle Kingdom.

Despite being only the second African country to recognize the People’s Republic of China in 1958, Morocco has until recently been overshadowed by the likes of Angola, and closer to home, by Algeria. Lacking substantial oil reserves, Morocco took a backseat during China’s resource binge in the 2000s, but has since seen an outpouring of Chinese interest as Beijing seeks to diversify its investments in the region. Morocco’s rise in popularity can be traced to King Mohammed VI’s visit to China in 2016, a trip which is credited with jump-starting bilateral ties: Morocco now boasts three Confucius Institutes.

China and Morocco’s shared stances on non-intervention make them compatible partners, as does the fact that Morocco has not been overly critical of China, despite being a Major Non-NATO ally of the United States. China’s refusal to comment on the Western Sahara issue (a contested region claimed by Morocco) meshes nicely with Morocco’s silence on China’s actions towards its Muslim population in Xinjiang. While some Moroccans bemoan the plight of their co-religionists in China, Rabat has not openly voiced these concerns. Likewise, by refraining from commenting on the Western Sahara issue, China distinguishes itself from other external partners like the AU, EU and U.S which have all raised concerns about Moroccan actions in the region.

Alongside mutual non-interference, Morocco is also increasingly benefiting from Chinese efforts to diversify its foreign investment, especially regarding technology and tourism.Morocco is also becoming the default investment destination in North Africa, as the region continues to be unstable, with Morocco reaping the benefits of stability. Moreover, growing anti-Chinese sentiment in more established China-Africa relationships is also leading China to diversify its investment portfolio to hedge against anti-Chinese protests and backlashes that threaten existing investments. To this end Casablanca will be hosting the China-Morocco Trade Week in December 2017.

China on a spending spree in Morocco

Alongside traditional exports to China such as phosphates, Morocco is seeing a tidal wave of Chinese investment in a host of sectors.  Between 2011 and 2015 Chinese FDI in Morocco increased 195%, with a 93% increase between 2014 and 2015 alone. Since then things have only continued to accelerate. The Chinese-built 952 metre King Mohammed VI bridge (itself part of the 42 km Rabat motorway bypass expansion) was opened in July and in November 2016, China’s Chint Group Corp was chosen to construct a 170MW solar plant. Furthermore, Moroccan authorities met with China Railway in December to discuss the construction of a multi-billion, high-speed rail link between Marrakesh and Agadir.

Sino-Moroccan fusion: Vogue China July 2014

The Bank of China opened an office in Casablanca in March 2016 as part of Morocco’s Casablanca Finance City initiative.Similarly, Yangtse Automobile has announced a $100 million investment (expected to create 2,000 jobs) in Tangier to produce electric cars and buses for export to Europe, citing Morocco’s location as an asset in boosting exports to Europe while also shortening supply chains. Tangier is also the location of Morocco’s ambitious $10 billion Tangier technology hub project. Aided by a $1 billion investment from China’s HAITE Group, the project aims to build a smart city with 300,000 residents and provide 100,000 jobs in order to create a new technology and manufacturing hub near Tangier. The project is expected to attract investment from some 200 foreign companies, many of them Chinese.

Another growth market are citrus exports to China. As the third largest citrus exporter, Morocco has needed to seek out new markets in the wake of Russia’s agriculture import ban, with China a perfect candidate. The first batch of high-end Moroccan citrus exports set out for Shanghai in November. Copag – Morocco’s largest citrus producer – has partnered with Chengdu’s Bideng Trade Co.to sell Moroccan fruit in China. The growing demand for foreign food in China – spurred by rising incomes and health concerns regarding Chinese produce – provides an excellent opportunity. Given Morocco’s existing integration into EU food supply chains, Rabat is already beholden to high quality standards, a fact that appeal to many Chinese consumers. Indeed Chinese importers have cited Morocco’s ability to pass the EU Proficiency Test for Pesticide Residues as a seal of confidence.

Indeed China’s interest in all things Moroccan has even seen the African country begin to export donkeys to meet the demand of China’s traditional medicine market. China is importing more than 80,000 donkeys (and growing) from across Africa to supply hide and gelatin for traditional medicines, as Beijing’s annual consumption of 1.8 million animals remains insufficient.

Moroccan tourism and culture take China by storm

Alongside manufacturing and other investments, the most explosive growth has been in the tourism sector. Even before Rabat’s decision to drop visa requirements for Chinese visitors in July 2016, Ctrip as part of the 2016 National Day Travel Prediction Report predicted a 3500% increase in visa applications to Morocco. As a result by November 2016, Morocco saw a sixfold increase in Chinese arrivals – a fact all the more impressive given that no direct flights exist between the two countries. With 42,000 Chinese tourists in 2016 – a 300% year-on-year increase from 2015 – Morocco has announced a goal of 100,000 visitors from the Middle Kingdom in 2017. As a result, Chinese investors from Guangzhou met with the Moroccan Society of Tourist Engineering in late February to discuss investments in hotels, resorts, spas and amusement parks.

All this comes as China’s government-run Global Times declared Morocco the best potential destination for 2017, based on visa procedures, tourist flows, and tourist satisfaction. This has resulted in Morocco becoming a trending topic on Weibo, with photos of the North African country especially popular. This trend has been fostered by a partnership between Morocco and Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi, whose team travelled to Morocco to snap promotional photos for its latest smartphone. Morocco has become the star model to showcase the 23 mega-pixel camera on Xiaomi’s M1 Note 2 smartphone. Photos of Morocco were prominently featured during Xiaomi’s November launch conference for the M1 Note 2. An added bonus for Morocco is that Xiaomi is providing the photos for free as pre-installed content on its phones, thus introducing Morocco to tens of millions of Chinese consumers.

Morocco was also a star attraction at the Beijing International Book Fair in August, marking Morocco’s second consecutive appearance at the event. On the other hand,The Donor by Chinese director Zang Qiwu won the top prize at the 2016 Marrakech Film Festival in December. The amount of hype surrounding China-Morocco relations and cultural exchanges has even led to the spread of fake news, with Chinese media incorrectly reporting that author Liu Zhenyun had won a popular Moroccan literary prize. This was no mere typo, as the alleged prize does not even exist, with Chinese officials having to debunk the story.

Whether this was an orchestrated effort to reinforce the trending China-Morocco narrative that backfired, or simply a viral rumour sparked by an excited netizen, it demonstrates that Morocco is clearly top of mind in China.

Under the Radar uncovers political risk events around the world overlooked by mainstream media. By detecting hidden risks, we keep you ahead of the pack and ready for new opportunities.

Under the Radar is written by Senior Analyst Jeremy Luedi.

New Morocco Premier Forms Six-Party Coalition To End Deadlock

Western Sahara Worldnews - Sun, 03/26/2017 - 15:25

Bloomberg
by Tarek El-Tablawy

Morocco’s new prime minister-designate formed a governing coalition, ending a five-month impasse that has paralyzed decision-making and strained the economy.

After barely a week in office, Saaddine El-Otmani of the moderate Islamist Justice and Development Party told reporters late Saturday that he will lead a coalition of six parties including partners his predecessor, Abdelilah Benkirane, had refused toinclude. High on the new government’s agenda will be “improving the quality of government services, education, health care, creating job opportunities, and fighting corruption,” El-Otmani said.

Benkirane’s inability to form a coalition after October elections produced no clear-cut winner forced King Mohamed VI to take the rare step of intervening to fire him this month. El-Otmani, a former foreign minister, was selected to replace Benkirane two days later.

At least 11 members of the outgoing 39-member cabinet resigned when they were elected to parliament in October. Over the last five months, their positions were mostly vacant, although some were filled on an interim basis by other sitting ministers. Many critical portfolios, including defense, interior and religious affairs, are currently headed by officials unaffiliated with political parties who were handpicked by the monarch.

The failure to seat a government has prevented the passage of a new budget and hampered government programs to counter religious radicalization of the country’s youth, a key challenge across North Africa.

Mediterranean Film Festival Kicks Off In Morocco As Chinese Films Shine

Western Sahara Worldnews - Sun, 03/26/2017 - 11:46

Xinhuanet
Source: Xinhua

The 23rd edition of the International Mediterranean Film Festival opened on Saturday in Morocco’s northern city of Tetouan, with China as the guest of honor.

The festival, which runs until April 2, will screen numerous Chinese movies reflecting various areas of China’s film industry.

Among the movies, which will be screened during the festival, there are Wu Ershan’s movie “Mojin: The Lost Legend,” Dante Lam’s “Operation Mekong”, Xu Haofeng’s “The Master” and Cao Baoping’s “The Dead End”.

“In the past few editions, the festival has opened up to countries outside of the Mediterranean region. We hosted the Iranian, Mexican and Chilean movies and today we chose China,” the Director of the festival Ahmed EL Housni told Xinhua.

He stressed that the Chinese film-making has distinguished itself in recent years as one of the leading industry the world, adding that the festival aims to present this experience to wider Moroccan public.

Honoring Chinese cinema in the festival is another facet of the friendly bilateral relationship, he said, adding that ties between China and Morocco have witnessed a significant progress both economically and culturally.

The official competition of the festival includes 24 films from 15 Mediterranean countries, including 12 feature films and 12 documentary films.

The feature films will be contesting for the Grand Prix Tamouda d’or, whereas the documentary films will be competing for the Tetouan Grand Prix for documentary films.

The jury of the feature films will be presided by the Egyptian director Yousry Nasrallah, while the documentary jury will be headed by French screen writer Thomas Bauer.

Established in 1985, the Tetouan International Film Festival focuses on the promotion of films from Mediterranean countries, and it is gaining influence as a major project in Morocco.

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