Western sahara Major events
The North Africa Post
Morocco gave strong guarantees that it will not allow any breach of the security of the road linking it to West African states and that it ensures that road safety is respected.
Speaking in response to fallacious information spread by Algerian co-opted media, Morocco’s foreign minister Nasser Bourita said in New York that the Kingdom will take all necessary measures to ensure the safety of commercial traffic on the road linking Morocco to the Sahel.
Moroccan media quoted the Minister saying that Morocco is ready to bring logistical and security aid to G5 Sahel states (Mauritania, Mali and Niger, Burkina Faso and Chad) in their efforts to secure their borders.
The Minister also welcomed the creation of the G5 force as a milestone in security cooperation in the region, and urged the international community to bring support to the Sahel counter terrorism force.
Morocco, in its quality as Chair of the peace building committee, also deplored the surge of violence in the Central African Republic and called for boosting the capacities of the MINUSCA, the UN peacekeeping mission in CAR.
“Armed groups cannot hijack the whole political process,” Morocco’s foreign Minister Nasser Bourita said at a high-level meeting on the situation in CAR, held on the sidelines of the 72nd UN General Assembly.
Bourita warned of the risks embedded in the ethnic and religious character of the violence in the region of Bangassou, which was until recently a symbol of tolerance and coexistence in the country.
Posted by North Africa Post
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In our last publication, we discussed the signing of the Ghana-Morocco Double Tax Agreement (“DTA”) and the provisions of the DTA in relation to the taxation of permanent establishments and business income.
In the concluding part of the article, we will discuss the taxation of investment, employment and service incomes as well as other considerations under the DTA.
Taxation of investment income
Where a Moroccan company pays dividends to a tax resident company of Ghana, which is the beneficial owner of at least 10 per cent of the capital of the Moroccan company, the maximum dividend tax rate in Morocco is five per cent of the dividend received.
In any other cases, a tax of 10 per cent applies on the dividend paid by a Moroccan company to a tax resident persons of Ghana.
The dividend withholding taxes of five per cent or 10 per cent do not apply where the beneficial owner of the dividends is a Ghanaian resident entity which carries on business through a PE in Morocco.
Additionally, if the beneficial owner of the dividend performs independent personal services from a fixed base situated in Morocco, and the Moroccan company is effectively connected with such a PE, then this dividend tax will not apply.
Other than interest specified as exempt from tax in the DTA, interest income received by a Ghanaian tax resident person from a Moroccan tax resident entity may be taxed in Morocco at a maximum rate of 10 per cent.
In Ghana, however, interest payments are taxed at eight per cent meaning that the foreign tax credit received may only be relieved in Ghana up to eight per cent, leaving the Ghanaian lender with unrelieved Moroccan tax on interest income of two per cent.
Unless the qualifying conditions in the DTA are met, the tax rates on interest do not apply to interest accrued by a PE of a Ghanaian resident entity situated in Morocco, or from independent personal services from a fixed base situated in Morocco.
For royalty payments by a Moroccan tax resident to a Ghanaian tax resident, tax of 10 per cent may be deducted in Morocco.
The reduced rate of 10 per cent does not, however, apply where the beneficial owner of the royalties is a resident of Ghana and carries on business in Morocco via a PE situated in Morocco, or performs independent personal services from a fixed base situated in Morocco.
Capital gains realised from the alienation of immovable or movable property of a Ghanaian resident person situated in Morocco, whether owned directly or through a PE may be taxable in Morocco as per the conditions specified in the DTA.
However, capital gains from the alienation of ships or aircrafts operated in international traffic or movable property pertaining to the operation of ships or aircrafts are taxable in the place of effective management of the enterprise.
Gains from the alienation of shares, capital stock of a company, or of an interest in a partnership, trust or estate, the property of which consists directly or indirectly principally of immovable property situated in a country may be taxable in that country.
Gains from the alienation of any property not stated are taxable only in the country that the alienator is tax resident.
Taxation of employment income and other types of service incomes
Income derived by a Ghanaian resident from professional services or other services of an independent character shall be taxable only in Ghana. If the Ghanaian resident person has a fixed place available in Morocco where these services are performed, then the income attributable to this fixed base in Morocco may be taxable in Morocco.
Similarly, if a Ghanaian resident individual exercises employment in Morocco, income from this employment may be taxed in Morocco.
For the income to be taxable in Ghana, the Ghanaian resident individual should spend less than 183 days in aggregate in Morocco and the cost of employment should not be borne by either a Moroccan resident employer or a P.E. in Morocco.
Fees paid to a Ghanaian resident as a director of a board of Moroccan company may be taxed in Morocco. Similarly, the remuneration of top-level managerial officials of a Moroccan company who are residents of Ghana are taxable in Morocco.
Income earned by an independent professional service such as an entertainer and a sportsman from their personal activities either Ghana or Morocco is taxable in either of both countries depending on where the activities are exercised.
The above notwithstanding, income earned from such personal activities within the framework of cultural or sports exchanges agreed by both governments and carried out for non-profit making purposes are exempt from tax in both countries.
Finally, pensions or life annuities paid by a Moroccan social security scheme to a Ghanaian tax resident shall be taxable only in Ghana and vice versa. Despite this, pension payments are currently exempt from taxes in Ghana.
By Angela Charlton, Associated Press
The director of the Central Bureau of Judicial Investigations Abdelhak Khiame gestures during an interview with The Associated Press at his headquarters in Sale near Rabat, Morocco, Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017. Khiame says his government is working on a new strategy to track Moroccans who radicalize in Europe, as part of beefed-up counterterrorism efforts by a country that is both a key player in the global anti-extremism struggle and a source of international jihadis. (AP Photo/Abdeljalil Bounhar)
A top Moroccan security official says his government is working on a new strategy to track Moroccans who become radicalized in Europe, part of beefed-up counterterrorism efforts by a country that is both a key player in the global anti-extremism struggle and a source of international jihadis.
Preventing radicalization of Moroccans abroad is especially important after Spanish extremists with Moroccan origins carried out last month’s deadly Barcelona attacks, Abdelhak Khiame, director of an agency known as Morocco’s FBI, told The Associated Press in an interview.
“Really I was frightened by what we saw happen in Barcelona. They were all youths of Moroccan origin, their parents were Moroccan but they themselves had no connection to Morocco other than their origin and their family,” Khiame said Tuesday in his polished headquarters in Sale, near the capital, Rabat.
“Morocco’s government now must adopt another method just to control the return of those people and keep a watch on them, try and gather intelligence on them,” he added.
He would not elaborate on what surveillance measures that monitoring strategy would entail, but insisted on the importance of intelligence cooperation across borders, and said his agency is working on establishing offices in partner countries.
His agency, the Central Bureau of Judicial Investigations, is also cracking down on Moroccans returning from fighting with the Islamic State group in Syria, Iraq and Libya. It has arrested 85 men, 14 women and 27 children returnees to date, he said.
Moroccans make up an unusually large subset of IS foreign fighters — a total of 1,664 people at the agency’s last count. While larger numbers came from Saudi Arabia and Tunisia, experts say Moroccans play a sizeable role among the thousands of foreign fighters in the extremist group. So do dual Moroccan-European citizens, who were notably behind IS attacks on Paris and Brussels in 2015 and 2016.
Khiame’s agency, created two years ago to consolidate and strengthen anti-terrorism and anti-crime efforts, says it has dismantled 42 Islamic State cells and five others.
Rights groups warn that counterterrorism authorities are being overzealous and have caught up innocent bystanders in the dragnet. Thomas Galley, a Frenchman serving prison time on a terrorism financing conviction based on a confession in Arabic that he says he didn’t make and can’t understand, is among those that Human Rights Watch says is being unfairly held. Khiame insisted that the government has proof of his extremist activities.
Beyond jail and prosecution, Khiame said the government recognizes the need to solve the roots of radicalism through tackling poverty, training moderate imams and banning extremist preachers, and re-integrating former radicals.
He warned of a risk of “reverse terrorism,” or Moroccan emigrants who become radicalized in Europe then come to Morocco to stage attacks.
He cited the example of a man who embraced extremism while living in Catalonia and who was interrogated by Moroccan authorities after the Barcelona attacks, and found to be plotting violence in Morocco.
Khiame said the man had no link to the Barcelona attacks, which left 16 people dead after a partially failed attempt by a network of teens and other young Spaniards to set off explosions in the area.
Khiame’s agency helped identify the suspects and is working closely with Spain on the investigation.
The agency was also instrumental in helping French police find a leading suspect in the November 2015 attacks on the Bataclan theater, cafes and a stadium in Paris.
Rooting out radicalism is important to preserving Morocco’s reputation as a beacon of stability in a volatile region, and King Mohammed VI speaks out regularly against religious fanaticism.
Experts say Moroccans abroad are especially vulnerable because of the challenges of integration and a tug-of-war between two cultures and identities.
Charlton reported from Paris. Andrew Drake in Sale, Morocco and Lori Hinnant in Paris contributed.
Maghreb Arabe Presse (Rabat)
Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita stressed, on Wednesday in New York, the pressing need for cooperation within governments and at the international level to defeat terrorism and violent extremism.
“Each dismantled cell and thwarted terrorist attack is further proof that cooperation within governments and at the international level is not just an option, but a strong imperative in our quest to defeat terrorism and violent extremism,” said Bourita at the 8th ministerial meeting of the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF), chaired by Morocco and the Netherlands.
“It is essential that we persist in our joint mobilization and continue to stand together in a spirit of unity and solidarity,” he said.
“We cannot emphasize more on the fact that this global menace requires a global response, and absolutely no country can claim ability to cope alone with the manifestations of terrorism,” he said, noting that this global menace requires a global response, and absolutely no country can claim ability to cope alone with the manifestations of terrorism.
Bourita underlined that “we must also fully engage all relevant stakeholders – government services, non-governmental organizations, civil society, media, the private sector, Internet providers, etc… – along the lines of a “whole of society” approach.”
He added that the primary objective remains to support and revitalize the implementation of the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy and relevant Security Council resolutions, as well as GCTF’s good practices and recommendations.
“In this context, we welcome the reform of the United Nations counter-terrorism architecture and the establishment of the United Nations Office for Counter-Terrorism,” he said.
“In addition, and in line with the inclusive approach advocated by the GCTF, we have decided to expand the geographical scope of its two Regional Working Groups, which will now work to strengthen and develop capacities in East and West Africa regions,” the minister noted.
“Our decision emanated from the observation of the alarmingly developing terrorist threats in Africa and the attempts from existing and resurgent terrorist groups to link up across these regions,” he explained.
“We cannot and should not turn a blind eye on this alarming trend and allow for the promising development efforts of African countries to be challenged by the spread of terrorism, and the GCTF should fully contribute to reinforcing the capacities in the continent,” he underlined.
Morocco and the Netherlands were re-selected to assume the presidency of the Global Counterterrorism Forum for another two-year mandate.
Among the decisions taken during this meeting is the launch of a series of initiatives under the GCTF, including the initiative related to handling local violent extremists, run jointly by Morocco and the USA.
The meeting was attended by foreign ministers or representatives of member states as Spain, UK, Turkey, USA, France, Canada, Nigeria, Egypt, Qatar, KSA, Jordan, India, Indonesia, as well as UN representatives.
The GCTF is an informal, apolitical, multilateral counter-terrorism platform that was launched officially in New York in 2011, with the aim of strengthening capabilities in order to develop a strategic, long-term approach to counter terrorism and prevent the violent extremist ideologies that underpin it.
Maghreb Arabe Presse (Rabat)
For the United Nations, the UN-brokered agreement signed by Libyan parties in the Moroccan city of Skhirat in December 2015 remains the “inescapable reference point” to stabilize Libya, Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), Ghassan Salamé, said Tuesday in New York.
“Morocco has made a very positive contribution to the signing of the Skhirat agreement, which for us remains the inescapable reference point for progress,” Salamé told reporters following a meeting with Morocco’s minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Nasser Bourita, on the sidelines of the 72nd UN General Assembly.
The UN official said he thanked Bourita “for the Moroccan contribution” to the Libyan political agreement, saying he is “grateful to the Kingdom” for all the support it will provide to a mediation that will be led by the United Nations.
The UN Special Representative said that he has “agreed with our Moroccan friends that the 2015 agreement needs some small adjustments, but certainly not a replacement.”
Technical meetings will take place as of September 26 between the experts of the two Libyan assemblies to “draft together (…) some amendments”, he announced.
Earlier in the day, Bourita met with Libya’s Foreign Minister Mohamed Taha Siala, who expressed his country’s appreciation for Morocco’s support to improve the situation in Libya.
Morocco convened on Tuesday in New York a meeting on South-South cooperation with the objective of further strengthening this cooperation in line with the commitments made at COP22 in Marrakech.
The meeting was jointly organized with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and was attended by several public and non-state actors, regional and international organizations and representatives of the private sector and of developing countries.
Speaking on this occasion, Josefa Leonel Correia Sacko, African Union Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture, thanked Morocco for this commendable initiative and its efforts to promote South-South cooperation to address the challenges of climate change.
Correia Sacko affirmed that the African Union Commission is ready to support this initiative, given that climate change is a global issue that requires joint efforts, including by countries of the South, which are the most affected ones by this phenomenon.
“We can share experiences, transfer technology and take a collective approach to the impact of climate change,” she told MAP.
For the African official, dialogue and multilateralism have become an absolute necessity to achieve the development and transformation of Africa and to reach the objectives on the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the African Union 2063 Agenda.
Ambassador Amena Yauvoli, COP23 special representative for the Pacific region, said he was “pleasantly surprised” by the relevance of this Moroccan initiative and its great potential to promote cooperation between countries to fight the effects of climate change.
For him, South-South cooperation as advocated by Morocco “can turn these challenges into opportunities”.
“Climate challenges are constantly increasing, and no country can confront them alone,” he noted, stressing that successful experiences such as the Moroccan one are very useful for other countries in the south.
UNFCCC spokesperson Nick Nuttall welcomed Morocco’s initiative, noting that the Moroccan presidency of COP22 contributed to the emergence of a South-South cooperation action in this area.
Nuttall underlined the importance of strengthening cooperation in order to fight the impact of this phenomenon.
In his turn, COP22 President Salaheddine Mezouar said that this meeting shows the importance given by the Kingdom to South-South cooperation, which is at the heart of its international and regional action.
“For Morocco, this dimension of South-South partnership is a vision of strategic importance aimed at providing concrete answers to real problems,” he told reporters.
Morocco’s Secretary of State for Sustainable Development, Nezha El Ouafi, stressed that the Kingdom remains convinced that “multilateralism is the right choice to put into place our actions and move forward.”
This initiative can serve as a Moroccan-African platform to fight counter the effects of climate change, she noted.
Director General of the Moroccan Agency for International Cooperation (AMCI), ambassador Mohamed Methqal underlined the personal commitment of HM King Mohammed VI to South-South cooperation, recalling in this regard the organization last year in Marrakech of the Africa Action Summit in the margins of COP22.
Methqal also pointed out that the AMCI’s actions remain mainly oriented towards the African continent, with almost 80 pc of its initiatives related to African countries.
By the year 2030, Morocco would have invested $40 billion in projects aiming to develop the energy sector.
This is according to the North Africa Post, which cited the country’s ambitious strategy, seeking to derive 50% of its energy needs from renewable sources by the same year.
This was highlighted at a recently held forum in Bahrain’s capital, Manama, which focused on the latest developments in the renewable energy sector.
Speaking at the seminar, Minister of Energy, Aziz Rabbah said: “The Kingdom has succeeded, through an ambitious strategy, to turn its challenges into genuine investment opportunities, through its commitment to projects aimed at developing the energy sector by 2030, 75% of which are devoted to renewable energies.”
Media reported that the energy minister highlighted the fruitful results of Morocco’s energy transition, noting that the share of wind and solar power in electricity production reached 30% of overall energy output in the country in 2016.
Morocco’s energy transition
Minister Rabbah further recalled that in 2016, the Noor 1 solar complex began operating with a capacity of 160MW and a storage for 3 hours of low-light producing capacity, media reported.
The Noor project, which was developed by Saudi Arabia’s Acwa Power and Spanish firms Sener SA and Acciona SA, is estimated to have a total capacity of 2GW by 2020 once all four units have reached completion. Read more…
He also pointed to the country’s efforts to strengthen the electricity interconnection with neighbouring countries.
He made reference of the Morocco-Portugal project, which is currently under study, with a capacity of 1,000MW, and the project of a third interconnection of 700MW with Spain, including other projects with sub-Saharan countries.
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair said Monday in New York that he was “particularly happy for HM King Mohammed VI”, who was honoured with the Global Hope Coalition Special Recognition Award for promoting tolerance and cross-cultural rapprochement.
“I am particularly happy for HM the King who deserves the Special Recognition Leadership Award for promoting tolerance and cross-cultural rapprochement,” Blair told MAP.
The Global Hope Coalition awarded on Monday the Special Recognition Award for Leadership in the promotion of tolerance and cross-cultural rapprochement to HM King Mohammed VI “for the visionary leadership of the Sovereign in promoting harmony between different cultures both in Morocco and on the international scene”.
HRH Prince Moulay Rachid received this prestigious award on behalf of HM the King at a ceremony held at the New York Public Library and hosted by Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO, and the Leadership Council of the Global Hope Coalition.
The ceremony took place in the presence of several Heads of State and Government, leaders of international organizations, minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Nasser Bourita, Morocco’s ambassador to the US, Joumala Alaoui, and Morocco’s permanent representative to the UN, Omar Hilale.
The Baltic course
Rinkevics noted that Latvia was interested in strengthening the positions of its food producers and wood processing companies on the Moroccan market, since the interests of Latvian companies are to a great extent related to finding trade partners and importers in the region.
The Minister called on Morocco to sign an agreement on international road transport.
The Ministers also shared views on the relationship between Morocco and the European Union.
Rinkevics praised Morocco as a trustworthy partner and a stability factor in addressing the issues such as security and migration. The Minister expressed support for the EU-Morocco long-term partnership and cooperation in the areas of mutual interest. We appreciate Morocco’s return to the African Union, said Rinkevics and noted that the membership of that organization will enable the EU and Morocco to expand their cooperation in the African continent.
Morocco recognized Latvia’s independence on September 24, 1991, and diplomatic relations were established on October 5, 1992. The new Ambassador of Morocco to Latvia, Amina Bouayach, who resides in Stockholm, was accredited on February 7, 2017. The Non-Resident Ambassador of Latvia to Morocco, Imants Liegis, was accredited to Morocco on June 1, 2017.
by Tamim Elyan
Attijariwafa Bank, Morocco’s biggest lender, expects its recently acquired Egyptian unit to be the company’s major driver of growth in coming years and is planning to expand its operations by adding new branches and hiring staff.
The bank anticipates that the Egyptian operation will contribute 12 percent to 14 percent of its net income in 2018, with revenue expected to grow by 20 percent to 25 percent a year, the most among its foreign units, General Manager Ismail Douiri said in an interview. Attijariwafa plans “significant” branch expansion and hiring in the country, he said.
“In Egypt, everything we saw as a potential is materializing and can grow even faster than we initially thought,” Douiri said in Cairo. The new unit “is not only an important contributor today, but it will also be a major growth driver tomorrow.”
The lender took over Barclays Plc’s Egyptian business earlier this year as part of a wave of African acquisitions that began in 2005 and is intended to offset the limited growth opportunities in Morocco. Attijariwafa now operates in more than 20 countries including Tunisia, Niger, Gabon and Cameroon, as well as France, Germany and Italy.
Even though he’s looking overseas for Attijariwafa’s growth, Douiri said he’s bullish about Morocco’s prospects and that the government’s plan to allow its currency to trade freely “is the right choice.” A free-floating dirham will help integrate the nation’s economy with the rest of the world and attract foreign capital, he said.
The currency plans have been postponed at least twice. Yet Morocco’s economy is in good enough shape for the move, Douiri said.
“The timing is good because we’re at record-high levels of foreign reserves,” he said. “Market participants are all ready but some people, mostly the general public and some small business owners, may have wrong interpretations of what is a very cautious and progressive plan.”
by Ali Haidar
Khadijatou, aka Jadiyetu El-Mokhtar, an international relations officer of the “Union Nationale des Femmes Sahraouies”, an organization affiliated to the Polisario, landed this weekend at Jorge Chavez airport in Lima for a visit to Peru, but the border police denied her entry.
Khadijatou, who presented herself as a so-called ambassador of the pseudo-Sahrawi republic “RASD”, was to be expelled Sunday by the Peruvian police on a flight departing for Spain.
The border police did not reveal any details of the motives of the expulsion of the Sahrawi woman who, according to the website telesurtv.net, is placed on “red alert”, yet Jadiyetou El-Mokhtar holds Spanish nationality and travels with a Spanish passport.
Peruvian lawyer Dante Díaz Wong, who was hired by the Algerian embassy in Lima to defend Jadiyetu El Mokhtar, told telesurtv.net that “they (Peruvian security services) do not allow me to talk to her and refuse to show me the order that prohibits her from entering the country.They also refuse to tell me who is the official who signed this order”.
Officially, Jadiyetu, a native of Dakhla, a town in the extreme south-west of Morocco, was invited to Peru by the “Peru-SADR Parliamentary Friendship League” to participate in a session of the foreign relations committee of the Peruvian Congress.
But according to another well-informed source in the Tindouf camps, Jadiyetu El-Mokhtar was commissioned by the Polisario leadership to go to Lima to sensitize the Andean movements to the Polisario’s separatist claims.
After the serious blows they suffered in Africa in the aftermath of Morocco’s triumphant return to the African Union (AU), Polisario leaders and their Algerian sponsors fear a remake of this Moroccan breakthrough in Latin America. Actually the first sign of this remake was the re-establishment of Morocco’s diplomatic relations with Cuba, a Polisario’s strong ally in Latin America.
Every year in the 15 countries on the shores of the eastern and southern Mediterranean, 19,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer and 212,000 with breast cancer. Of these, 7,800 die of cervical cancer and 62,200 of breast cancer.
A project, reports the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM), is being promoted by the Turin Center for Epidemiology and Cancer Prevention to reduce the death toll from these types of tumors in Albania, Morocco and Montenegro.
The four-year project has a 4.16-million-euro budget and its primary aim will be to strengthen monitoring of women at risk of cancer, helping countries to improve protocols to prevent and fight the disease. The project will also serve to improve healthcare services in the three countries, reducing delays in cancer diagnosis and, as a result, the social costs of treatment. The project also calls for providing information to women about healthier lifestyles, the introduction of HPV testing and vaccinations for it.
Over 45,000 disadvantaged women between the ages of 25 and 65 will be tested for cervical and breast cancer and will be informed of risks and the importance of prevention. The project will also include ad hoc training for over 300 professionals of the healthcare sector in the three countries to learn how to conduct screenings in the best possible way.
The project calls for cooperation between healthcare institutes to improve procedures to for cancer prevention and to draw up strategies specific for the different populations, to improve the health of women in the lower and middle classes through the Mediterranean. The Italian health ministry and Paris’s National Cancer Institute contributed funding to the project. (ANSAmed).
Morocco’s High-Resolution Earth Observation Satellite To Be Launched By Arianespace In November 2017
Moroccan press sources are reporting that the kingdom’s first high-resolution Earth observation satellite – currently designated as MN35-13 – is being readied for launch on an Arianespace Vega space launch vehicle from Kourou in French Guiana on November 7 or 8, 2017.
The MN35-13 satellite has been built by French-based companies Airbus Defence and Space, who built the bus, and Thales Alenia Space, who manufactured the imaging payload. A second Earth observation satellite for Morocco, and built by the same companies, is scheduled to be ready for launch in 2018.
The Moroccan Earth observation satellite programme has been shrouded in mystery, with a deal between Rabat and Airbus Defece and Space and Thales Alenia Space widely rumoured to have been inked as far back as 2015, but none of the parties officially involved made any public statement.
It is also believed by industry insiders that the two satellites are similar to the birds being developed by Airbus Defence and Space and Thales Alenia Space for the United Arab Emirates, known as Falcon Eye. Both pairs of satellites are thought to be upgraded versions of the Pléiades-HR Earth observation satellite that has a resolution of 70cm across a 20 kilometer swath, a storage capacity of 600GB and a downlink data rate of 450MB per second. The Pléiades-HR has an operational lifetime of approximately five years.
It is not known whether the Moroccan versions of the satellites have the same, if not better, payload capabilities, but the UAE Falcon Eye satellites are listed as sharing the Pléiades-HR features.
NASA’s Terra satellite captures a dust storm off of the west coast of Morocco. Image courtesy of NASA.
Morocco’s geographical position and national security situation provides justification for the two Earth observation satellites, as it is situated on the the northwest African coast of the Atlantic Ocean and the entrance to the Mediterranean Sea at the Strait of Gibraltar, a busy shipping and smuggling route. To the southwest of Morocco is the disputed territory of the Western Sahara, where Moroccan forces have frequently clashed with the Polisario Front. To Morocco’s east is Algeria, a large country that has a deep desert interior and that has continually been in conflict with Islamic extremists that have sought to overthrow the government.
Possessing the ability to autonomously monitor threats on land and at sea long before they manifest themselves as imminent dangers should provide Morocco with an improved security process and the more efficient use of scarce capabilities to deal with those threats.
Original published at : https://spacewatchme.com/2017/09/moroccos-high-resolution-earth-observation-satellite-launched-arianespace-november-2017/
By Baher Kamal
Report from Inter Press Service
With the highest temperatures on record and unprecedented heat waves hitting Europe this year, Africa’s ‘Great Desert’, the Sahara, is set continue its relentless march on the Southern European countries until it occupies more than 30 per cent of Spain just three decades from now.
The Sahara is the largest hot desert on Earth, covering more than 9,000 square kilometres, comparable to the surface of China or the United States. Called originally in Arabic “Al Sahara Al Kubra’ (the Great Desert), it comprises much of North Africa, the Atlas Mountains of the Maghreb, and the Nile Valley in Egypt and Sudan.
It stretches from the Red Sea in the West and the Mediterranean in the North to the Atlantic Ocean in the West, including 10 countries: Algeria, Chad, Egypt, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Sudan, and Tunisia.
For its part, the European Union’s RECARE project (Preventing and Remediating degradation of soil in Europe through Land Care), estimates that 20 per cent of all Europe’s land surface is already subject to erosion rates above 10,000 hectares per year, while soil sealing (the permanent covering of soil with an impermeable material) leads to the loss of more than 1,000 sq km of productive land each year.
The European Union also reports that between 1990 and 2000, at least 275 hectares of soil were lost per day in the EU, amounting to 1,000 sq km per year. Between 2000 and 2006, the EU average loss increased by 3 per cent, but by 14 per cent in Ireland and Cyprus, and by 15 per cent in Spain.
Meantime, Africa is prey to a steady process of advancing droughts and desertification, posing one of the most pressing challenges facing the 54 African countries, home to more than 1.2 billion people.
Right now, two-thirds of Africa is already desert or dry-lands. While this land is vital for agriculture and food production, nearly three-fourths of it is estimated to be degraded.
In a parallel process, desertification manifests itself in many different forms across the vast region of Asia and the Pacific, the United Nations reports. Out of a total land area of 4.3 billion hectares reaching from the Mediterranean coast to the shores of the Pacific, Asia contains some 1.7 billion hectares of arid, semi-arid, and dry sub-humid land.
Land degradation varies across the region. There are expanding deserts in China, India, Iran, Mongolia and Pakistan, encroaching sand dunes in Syria, steeply eroded mountain slopes of Nepal, and deforested and in Laos and overgrazed in central Asia counties. In terms of the number of people affected by desertification and drought, Asia is the most severely affected continent.
In 2015, Asia-Pacific continued to be the world’s most disaster-prone region. Some 160 disasters were reported in the region, accounting for 47 per cent of the world’s 344 disasters.
The region bore the brunt of large-scale catastrophic disasters with over 16,000 fatalities — more than a two-fold increase since 2014. South Asia accounted for a staggering 64 per cent of total global fatalities — the majority was attributed to the 7.6 magnitude earthquake that struck Nepal in April, which caused 8,790 deaths.
Latin America and the Caribbean
Meanwhile, Latin America and the Caribbean are home to some of the most biodiverse and productive ecosystems in the world, according to the World Resources Institute’s report The Restoration Diagnostic.
The region holds about half of the world’s tropical forests, and more than 30 per cent of its mammals, reptiles, birds and amphibians.
But despite the region’s ecological importance, more than 200 million hectares of land has been completely deforested or degraded in the past century, an area the size of Mexico.
Summit in China
These are just some of the facts that the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) will put before the eyes of world leaders during the 13th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 13) in Ordos, China (6 -16 September 2017).
The Convention will also highlight to political leaders, decision makers, experts and civil society organisations participating in COP13 the fact that Africa is severely affected by frequent droughts, which have been particularly severe in recent years in the Horn of Africa and the Sahel.
And that the consequences are there: widespread poverty, hard socio-economic conditions, and many people dependent on natural resources for their livelihoods.
For many African countries, says UNCCD, fighting land degradation and desertification and mitigating the effects of drought are prerequisites for economic growth and social progress.
But not all news is bad news. In fact, increasing sustainable land management (SLM) and building resilience to drought in Africa can have profound positive impacts that reach from the local to the global level.
The UNCCD has elaborated ways how to achieve this vital objective thought its Regional Implementation Annex for Africa, which outlines an approach for addressing desertification, land degradation and drought (DLDD) on the African continent.
Work in Progress
Meanwhile, progress is underway. All African countries are Parties to the UNCCD and most of have developed and submitted National Action Programmes (NAPs). Also in order to facilitate cooperation on issues related to land degradation, African countries have created five Sub-Regional Action Programmes (SRAPs) and a Regional Action Programme (RAP).
The RAPs compose six thematic programme networks (TPNs) that concern integrated water management; agro-forestry; soil conservation; rangeland management; ecological monitoring and early warning systems; new and renewable energy sources and technologies, and sustainable agricultural farming systems.
Since the adoption of the UNCCD’s 10-Year Strategy, the sub-regional entities have begun aligning their action programmes to it, particularly the North, Central and Western African programmes. The other two sub-regions have already benefited from training by the UNCCD on how to align their programmes to the Strategy.
Similar actions to mitigate, halt and prevent the widespread process of advancing droughts and desertification are being implemented in all other impacted regions, and further efforts will be required. Not an easy task for decision-makers in this COP 13 in Ordos, China.
UK player gets commercial proposal for up to $100 million to finance key facility to develop Tendrara gas field.
UK player Sound Energy is closing in on funding of up to $100 million for a key pipeline set to exploit its Tendrara gas field in Morocco.
The London-listed player has an indicative non-binding commercial proposal from the fund manager of its partner Oil & Gas Investment Fund (OGIF) that could lead to the construction of a 20-inch pipeline.
The proposal from Advisory & Finance Group Investment Bank (AFG) is for between $60 million and $100 million.