The moroccan press
The Crans Montana Forum kicked off Friday in Dakhla under the patronage of HM King Mohammed VI, with the participation of more than 150 countries represented by high-level personalities.
The opening ceremony of this forum, which has been convened for the third time in a row in Dakhla, was marked by a message addressed by HM King Mohammed VI to the participants. It was read out by president of the Dakhla-Oued Eddahab region, Ynja Khattat.
MAP 17 March 2017
President of Central African Republic Thanks HM the King for Morocco’s Commitment Alongside His Country
President of the Central African Republic (CAR) Faustin-Archange Touadera expressed, Thursday at the UN headquarters in New York, his thanks to HM King Mohammed VI for Morocco's commitment alongside his country.
"We seize the opportunity to thank the Kingdom of Morocco and HM the King for the commitment of Morocco by our side," Touadera told MAP after a meeting of the Security Council on the situation in the CAR.
HM King Mohammed VI's advisor and chairman of the higher council for education, training and scientific research Omar Azziman was granted an audience, on Thursday in Diamniadio (near Dakar) by Senegal's president Macky Sall, on the sidelines of the official opening of the triennial of the Association for education Development in Africa (ADEA).
Foreign minister Salaheddine Mezouar called on Thursday in Casablanca for pooling efforts to promote cooperation between African countries and build an ambitious and pragmatic Africa.
Africa can not develop without a common economic zone and a real vision for south-south cooperation which will reinforce ties between African countries, Mezouar told the press on the sidelines of the 5th International Forum on Development in Africa which kicked off in Casablanca.
Members of the General Secretariat of the Justice and Development Party (PJD) "interacted positively" with the statement of the Royal Cabinet, the party's Secretary General, Abdelilah Benkirane, said Thursday.
Middle East Monitor
“Morocco is the TRUTH!” Hollywood actor Will Smith wrote on Facebook after his recent trip to the North African country earlier this month.
In a post published on Wednesday, Smith said: “Special Shout Out to photographer Hassan Hajjaj and all my people in Marrakech. Morocco is the TRUTH!”
Images accompanying the comment showed a number of locals in traditional dress and Smith himself wearing a multi-coloured outfit and traditional Moroccan shoes. Unfortunately, he had the shoes on the wrong foot and instead of the Arabic writing reading “biladi”, my country in Arabic, the shoes read “di” “blah”.
Smith paid a visit to Morocco’s artists’ residence of Al Maqam, outside of Marrakech, where he appeared in a YouTube video dancing to the traditional rhythms of Gnawa in traditional dress.
Smith’s Morocco visit comes after a trip to Egypt where pictures emerged on local media showing excited fans taking selfies with the actor at Cairo’s International Airport.
By Samia Errazzouki
Moroccan King Mohammed VI is replacing Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane and will ask another member of the Islamist Justice and Development Party (PJD) to form a government after five months of post-election deadlock, a statement from the royal cabinet said on Wednesday.
The king took the decision “in the absence of signs that suggest an imminent formation” of a government and due to “his concern about overcoming the current blockage” in political negotiations, the royal statement said. It did not say who he would name to replace Benkirane.
Benkirane had been reappointed after the PJD, which first came to power in 2011, increased its share of the vote in October elections, maintaining its position as the biggest party.
Under Morocco’s election law, no party can win an outright majority in the 395-seat parliament, making coalition governments a necessity in a system where the king still holds ultimate power.
But the PJD’s relations with a former coalition partner, the conservative Istiqlal party, soured over economic reforms, and talks over formation of a government with the centre-right National Rally of Independence (RNI) stalled.
Benkirane’s efforts have met with resistance from parties that critics say are too close to the palace. Royalist supporters have been reluctant to share power with Islamists since the king ceded some powers in 2011 to ease protests.
The palace says the king maintains the equal distance from all parties and dismisses claims of royal interference.
Concern has mounted about the impact of the political impasse on Morocco’s economy. This year’s budget, which should have been approved by parliament by the end of 2016, cannot be passed until a government is in place.
Speculation had been building that King Mohammed would attempt to break the political deadlock following his return on Tuesday from a tour of African states.
The palace statement said the king would receive the new prime minister soon, and would task him with forming a government.
The king thanked Benkirane for his service as prime minister, praising him for his “effectiveness, competence and self-sacrifice”.
A source in the PJD told Reuters the party will be meeting Thursday morning to discuss the king’s decision, which Benkirane said he accepted.
“This is our king and he came to a decision under the framework of the constitution, which I’ve always expressed support for,” he told Reuters.
“I’m going to perform ablution, pray, and continue working on the ground.”
(Writing by Aidan Lewis; Editing by James Dalgleish and Lisa Shumaker)
by Samia Errazzouki
Top Moroccan miner Managem reported a 41 percent rise in annual net profit to 289 million dirhams ($29 million) on Thursday helped by higher output and a rebound in metals prices.
Managem said significant discoveries had led to higher production, including a 32 percent rise in silver, 4 percent in cobalt, and 8 percent in zinc.
Increases in copper and silver production mitigated a decline in gold production in the Bakoudou mine in Gabon, it said.
Operating profit rose 9 percent to 673 million dirhams on consolidated sales up 1 percent at 4.377 billion dirhams.
Managem subsidiary Imiter Metallurgical Co (SMI), which operates in the Imider area, said its net profit rose 25 percent to 293 million dirhams.
The world’s seventh-biggest producer of silver, SMI said it saw a 32 percent increase in production in the second half of the year.
Managem said it would propose a dividend of 21 dirhams per share, while SMI said it would propose a dividend of 150 dirhams.
Managem produces gold, silver, cobalt and copper in Morocco and Gabon and is controlled by SNI, the Moroccan royal family’s holding company.
It recently signed a $100 million mining contract with Guinea which is projected to produce 100,000 ounces of gold a year.
(Reporting by Samia Errazzouki; editing by Aidan Lewis and Jason Neely)
5th International Africa Development Forum Kicks Off in Casablanca
The 5th edition of the International Africa Development Forum kicked off on Thursday in Casablanca.
The opening ceremony was chaired by President of Burkina Faso, Roch Marc Christian Kaboré.
Held by Attijariwafa bank Group under the theme "New Inclusive Growth Models in Africa," the two-day event is attended by nearly 1,500 operators from 25 countries in the continent and partner states.
News from The Associated Press
Negotiations are under way to find a new prime minister for Morocco following the king’s decision to oust the previous premier in a surprise intervention into the country’s politics.
The general secretariat of the Islamist Party of Justice and Development party met Thursday to decide its next moves after King Mohammed VI ordered Prime Minister-designate Abdelilah Benkirane to leave office. The king was frustrated with Benkirane’s five months of failed efforts to form a coalition government.
The PJD is expected to propose a new prime minister Saturday. Names that have surfaced include Saadeddine El Othmani, a former foreign minister, outgoing Justice Minister Mustapha Ramid and outgoing Transport Minister Abdelaziz Rebbah.
The deadlock was weighing on Morocco’s economy and reputation for political stability after years of upheaval in the Arab world.
Losing money fast amid low energy prices and declining output, the Algerian government will work to trim its expenses.
Despite popular pressure to ease up on austerity measures, Algiers will have no choice but to continue implementing its much-needed reforms.
Algeria will look to foreign investors for help in overhauling its energy sector, making incremental progress toward liberalizing its economy in the process.
Since the Arab Spring swept across North Africa in 2011, Algeria has been an immovable anchor in a region struggling to find stability in the face of wave after wave of change. Many of Algeria’s Mediterranean neighbors, including Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, are still recovering from the cataclysmic upsets that political and economic reforms have brought over the past six years.
Morocco, meanwhile, has just reclaimed its seat in the African Union after a decades long absence, and it is working furiously to re-engage with its African neighbors while preserving its friendship with the West. Morocco’s quest to improve its standing on the African continent could soon pose a threat to its longtime rival, Algeria, if Algiers does not move quickly to match Rabat’s ambitions.
But unlike its neighbors, Algeria has kept a fairly steady course in the two decades since its bloody civil war ended. Despite serious and persistent health issues, President Abdelaziz Bouteflika has held onto his seat in power. The country’s approaching parliamentary elections — the sixth since Algeria adopted a multiparty political system in 1989 — will do little to empower the legislature to mount a more effective challenge to the longtime leader and his entourage.
Even so, change is on the horizon for Algeria’s economy, despite the government’s reluctance to risk the unrest reforms would likely bring. The country’s economic growth and diversification have lagged in recent years, and in the face of persistently low oil prices and declining output, Algeria cannot afford to delay the overhaul of its lucrative but flagging energy sector any longer. And as it cautiously reshapes its economy, Algiers will gradually abandon its historical preference for isolation by courting foreign investors — a shift that could someday lead to a more open foreign policy as well.
Time (and Money) Is Running Out
Few North African economies can claim to be faring well at the moment, but Algeria’s financial problems are especially burdensome. The country depends on oil and natural gas for 94 percent of its total exports (most of which go to Europe) and 60 percent of its budgeted revenues. When oil prices plunged in 2014 before leveling out below $40 per barrel, Algiers was forced to drain its coffers to keep paying for its imports, pushing its budget deficit to a record high of 16.4 percent of gross domestic product in 2015. Of course, Algeria still holds a massive amount of oil wealth, boasting a higher GDP per capita than even its more diversified competitor, Morocco. But high levels of income inequality continue to plague the country.
Algeria’s foreign exchange reserves, moreover, are being rapidly depleted. Tucked away in the Revenue Regulation Fund, these reserves currently stand at just over $112 billion, down from $143 billion in 2015 and $177 billion in 2014. According to the International Monetary Fund, this figure will probably keep falling in the years ahead, dropping to $91 billion in 2017 and to $76 billion in 2018.
Keeping Up With the Times
Algeria’s spending decisions over the past few years matter less than the choices it makes next. Algiers will have to funnel some of its oil wealth into diversifying the economy, even as it keeps existing social spending programs and state industries afloat. (It will also maintain its defense spending, which the government is not eager to shrink amid its ongoing rivalry with Morocco.) Despite being Europe’s second-largest supplier of natural gas, behind only Russia, Algeria has had a tough time making ends meet as prices and demand in Europe have dropped. Declining output in Algeria’s own energy sector over the past decade has only made matters worse.
The government has dipped into its considerable reserves to pay the bills and prop up the Algerian dinar, with the unfortunate side effect of boosting inflation. In an effort to stanch the bleeding, Algiers recently slashed its spending by 14 percent, deepening the cutback of 9 percent outlined in last year’s budget. In 2017 alone, Algeria will try to reduce its imports by $5 billion, in keeping with the more than $10 billion in imports it has trimmed over the past two years. Though Algeria intends to remedy the situation in the long run by investing in growth beyond the oil sector, it has been slow to follow through with its plan.
Part of the problem is that restructuring the energy industry would threaten the patronage networks that have been built up around Algerian oil and natural gas giant Sonatrach. Since 2007, Algeria’s consumption of oil and natural gas has risen by more than 50 percent while its oil production has fallen by 25 percent. With less oil available for export, the government’s revenues have been hit hard — as have the payouts and perks that the ruling elite dole out through Sonatrach to keep their supporters satisfied. Leaders have moved hastily to invest in shale and enhanced recovery projects in an effort to counteract declining output in oil, but so far they have had little success in turning the energy sector around. All the while, Algiers’ fears of stoking unrest by revamping the country’s long-standing economic norms have grown.
An Unsustainable Status Quo
For the first time in decades, Algeria has turned to the international community for help. Algiers is eagerly seeking foreign investment into its agricultural industry to help offset its hefty import bills and spur development in what was once a significant sector for the country. And this is but one of many small steps the government is taking to bring in money from abroad. In 2013, for example, Algeria tried to stave off drops in hydrocarbon production by reforming its regulatory laws. Though the country’s infamous rule capping foreign ownership of any business operating in Algeria at 49 percent is still alive and well, calls to remove barriers to foreign investment are growing louder.
The country’s new constitution, which was updated early last year, also includes several clauses designed to open the Algerian economy to external funding. For example, the document explicitly prohibits the formation of new monopolies and directs lawmakers to “improve the business climate” of Algeria. Nevertheless, the decrees’ vagueness doesn’t inspire confidence in the government’s ability to see them through. After all, Algeria is known for bungling one of the most expensive infrastructure projects in the world, the East-West Highway, and ultimately tripling the expected cost of $6 billion with rampant graft. (The debacle has become even more embarrassing in light of Morocco’s success in championing its own public-private infrastructure project over the past decade.)
Algeria has had similar trouble keeping its economy up to date in the realm of Islamic finance, an increasingly favored option for diversifying financial sectors in the Muslim world. Like many other Muslim countries, Algeria is toying with the idea of issuing its first sukuk, or Islamic bond that pins its value to an asset without accruing interest. But the country lacks a legal framework to support Islamic finance, an area of growth that nearby Morocco, Egypt and Tunisia have recently and readily embraced. In fact, Algeria’s entire banking sector is woefully out of touch with modern banking standards, and its central bank has a reputation for being one of the most opaque institutions of its kind in the world. Hoping to skirt these issues while still attracting much-needed investment, Algerian officials have proposed a plan to issue interest-free bonds. This would bring in the immediate funding the government needs without labeling it an Islamic finance instrument.
Over the past two years, Algerian leaders have shown their willingness to implement unpopular reforms, especially those that target fuel subsidies and taxes. Algiers has already bumped up the national sales tax from 15 to 17 percent, sparking protests in several provinces. If the government deepens its resolve to double down on subsidy cuts and tax hikes, the demonstrations could certainly grow and spread. Though Algiers is trying to pare down its massive subsidy payments, which currently top $45 billion, at a reasonable pace, Algerian citizens are unhappy with the effect the cutbacks will have on their own pocketbooks and standards of living.
The government has encountered pushback from the ruling elite as well. As Algiers moves to modernize its energy sector — and, in doing so, disrupt the entrenched patronage networks within it — high-ranking officials have taken steps to ensure that the reforms do not impact their access to state wealth. But they are only delaying the inevitable. No matter who follows in the footsteps of Bouteflika, a president known for his aversion to reform and equated with national stability, the country cannot protect the status quo for much longer.
US lawyer and observer Thomas Wolf has underlined that the Gdim Izik trial is "fair".
"I am here as an observer from the United States. From what I have seen, it is a fair trial", the US lawyer stressed.
The Criminal Chamber at the annexe of Salé Appeal Court resumed, Monday, the hearing into the case of the accused in the Gdim Izik events, which left 11 killed and 70 wounded among the security forces, as well as 4 injured among civilians.
Several human rights associations, NGOs and independent national and international organizations are observing the trial.
The hydroelectric sector is a pledge to boost human development in the African continent, said on Tuesday in Marrakesh, Minister delegate for water Charafat Afilal.
Given its huge potential and the assets it offers, the hydroelectric sector can be, if developed, a pledge to boost human development in the African continent, said Afilal in the opening of the International Conference on Water and Energy (Africa 2017), held under the patronage of HM King Mohammed VI, on March 14 to 16.
Morocco’s King Mohammed VI will appoint another Prime Minister from the Islamist Justice and Development Party (PJD) after its leader Abdelilah Benkirane failed to form a new government, a statement from the king’s office announced.
In October, the king re-appointed Benkirane as a PM with the task to form a new government, but he has not been able to achieve this goal after five months.
Given his constitutional powers to ensure respect for the constitution, the proper functioning of institutions and the supreme interests of the homeland and citizens, the king decided to appoint as a new PM another member from PJD, the statement said.
The king took notice that the negotiations, which lasted for five months, has not resulted in the formation of a governmental majority and that there is a lack of any prospects suggesting its near formation, the statement noted.
Maya Gold & Silver Reports Monthly Silver Production And Update On Installation Of Flotation Cells At The Zgounder Silver Mine
Maya Gold & Silver (“Maya” or the “Corporation”) (TSX VENTURE:MYA) is pleased to report the production of silver for the month of February 2017 as well as an update of the mining operations at its Zgounder Millenium Silver Mine.
Development highlights at the Zgounder Mine
During the month of February 2017, underground exploration and development consisted of 351 metres of percussion drilling in seven mine workings. Highlights of the work completed are:
Percussion drilling was carried out at the 2030 level on three separated drifts.
Panel 1 was extended in the western zone of level 2100. The mineralization lies at the contact of the dolerite dyke and Neoproterozoic metasediments and at the intersection of EW- and NS-oriented structures. The mineralization consists of disseminated sulphides (sphalerite, galena and pyrite) accompanied by trace amounts of native silver within fractures and quartz veinlets.
A percussion drilling program is set to confirm the extension of the mineralization.
Other percussion drill holes have confirmed the presence of silver mineralization at the 2006 level.
Installation of the Flotation Cell Units
Maya was informed by the supplier, of the completion of the Flotation Cell Units during the months of January and February. The engineering and technical representatives of Maya inspected the cells and gave their approval of the completed work. The basic engineering and infrastructures related to the installation of the cell units at the Zgounder mine are completed and ready.
The Flotation Cell Units were packed into shipping containers and the equipment is currently being transported to the Zgounder Millenium Silver Mining site located in the Anti-Atlas Mountains of central Morocco. Management expects the equipment to arrive on site during the month of April, anticipates the Flotation Cells will be assembled, undergo testing, design basis and optimization during the year, and be commissioned before year end. The Management expects the Flotation Cell Units, once integrated to the processing circuit will increase the tonnage of the ore processed from 187 t/day to up to 500 t/day.
The technical content of this news release has been provided by Zgounder Millenium Silver Mining and has been reviewed and approved by Michel Boily, PhD, geo from GÉON; an independent Qualified Person under NI 43-101 standards.
Maya Gold & Silver Inc. is a Canadian publicly listed mining corporation focused on the exploration and development of gold and silver deposits in Morocco. Maya is initiating mining and milling operations at its Zgounder Mine owned by Zgounder Millenium Silver Mining (“ZMSM”), a Maya 85% owned joint venture with l’Office National des Hydrocarbures et des Mines (“ONHYM”) of the Kingdom of Morocco (15%).
Neither TSX Venture Exchange nor its Regulation Services Provider (as that term is defined in policies of the TSX Venture Exchange) accepts responsibility for the adequacy or accuracy of this release.
This news release contains statements about our future business and planned activities. These are “forward-looking” because we have used what we know and expect today to make a statement about the future. Forward-looking statements including but are not limited to comments regarding the timing and content of upcoming work and analyses. Forward-looking statements usually include words such as may, intend, plan, expect, anticipate, and believe or other similar words. We believe the expectations reflected in these forward-looking statements are reasonable. However, actual events and results could be substantially different because of the risks and uncertainties associated with our business or events that happen after the date of this news release. You should not place undue reliance on forward-looking statements. As a general policy, we do not update forward-looking statements except as required by securities laws and regulations.
Brian E. Clark
When Bruce Brown was shooting his iconic surfing film “The Endless Summer” in 1963, he hopped around the globe. He never made it to Morocco on the northwest corner of Africa, though he did get to Senegal, Nigeria and South Africa.
Brown skipped Morocco a second time when he made “The Endless Summer II,” released in 1994.
Big mistakes. What Brown missed was a 1,000-mile coastline that hugs the Moroccan desert, with waves that form beside rocky points or off the beach and are only now being discovered by Yanks.
I first visited Morocco in the 1970s when I went to visit my older brother who was teaching English in the Peace Corps. I returned in the winter 15 years later to climb a nearly 14,000-foot peak called Toubkal outside Marrakech with photographer Mark Lorenzen— and then ski down it.
But I knew nothing of the kingdom’s burgeoning (at least among Moroccans, Europeans, Aussies and Brazilians) surf scene until I read about Jerome Sahyoun, a Moroccan who is one of the world’s top big-wave surfers.
It made this former San Diegan ponder returning to North Africa to check out a coast that looks a lot like stretches of Baja California and ride the waves that roll across the Atlantic to break on its shores.
The deal was sealed after I spoke with Nigel Cross, an Australian who operates Moroccan Surf Adventures on Taghazout Bay, Morocco, one of the top surfing spots in Africa.
Cross, who is in his 40s, came to Morocco as a toddler in the 1970s with his surfer parents who were, he says, “following the sun.”
On a misty October morning I found myself carrying a longboard down to the water at Devil’s Rock Beach, north of the coastal city of Agadir, for a refresher lesson with a dozen would-be surfers from Britain, France, Ireland and Brazil.
There was one other American in our pod, a young businesswoman from San Francisco. She was the only other Yank I met during my five days at Cross’ surfing school.
It wasn’t crowded, but there were other surfers out in the lineup and on the beach, including a group of Moroccan boys in wetsuits who were doing jumping jacks and turning cartwheels on the sand.
Brightly painted blue fishing boats, including one with a pair of cats lounging in it, were lined up above the high-tide line. Still higher was what can only be described as surf shacks.
Tamraght, the village where I was staying, was about half a mile inland from Devil’s Rock Beach and had a pair of mosques with minarets poking into the blue sky.
Behind them, arid hills rolled off to the east. Less than a mile north of Tamraght is the town of Taghazout, Morroco’s version of Santa Cruz.
Not far from the shore, a handful of surfers was lining up to hop on waves rolling in off the right-hand side of the jagged point that is Devil’s Rock.
Brahim LeFrere, one of the three instructors for our group, had us doing pop-ups on the beach before we hit the water for what would be four-plus days of instruction. We roamed up and down the coast, seeking the best conditions. At several spots, camels moved casually along the sand, reminding us that we were indeed in North Africa.
When the day’s classes and time for free surfing were over, we returned to the Moroccan Surf Adventures hostel, where the chef served us a delicious Berber tagine, a stew prepared in an earthenware pot that was brimming with onions, carrots, squash, spices and chicken and served on a bed of couscous.
Advanced surfers who were staying at the lodge hired guides and headed for more serious breaks that have gnarly reputations in Morocco and Europe, such as Dracula’s, Hash Point, Killer Point and Anchor Point, where waves sometimes break for more than a quarter mile.
One of the highlights of my trip was meeting Meryem el Gardoum and watching her ride the waves. This 19-year-old Muslim woman is a native of Tamraght and the country’s top female surfer.
She learned from her older brothers, and her parents encouraged her to compete. Now she’s a part-time instructor when she’s not in school.
Anchor Point is her favorite break, she told me, because of its consistent tubes and long rides.
“I feel so free when I am out there,” she said during a chat at Devil’s Rock. “I think it’s the same [for surfers] all over the world. I’m just lucky that I grew up here and had the support of my family.
“Not all girls my age are so fortunate.”
If you go
THE BEST WAY TO RABAT, MOROCCO
From LAX, Air France, British, United and Air New Zealand offer connecting servIce (change of planes) to Rabat. Restricted round-trip airfares from $1,355, including taxes and fees.
ices from LAX to Agadir via Europe starting in September begin at around $1,100 from a number of airlines.
Moroccan Surf Adventures in Tamraght, Morocco. Weeklong lodging, food and instruction packages start at $708 and include transfers from the Agadir airport, morning yoga classes and a Moroccan cooking class. Rates for surfers who don’t need instruction, but would like to hire a guide are less. Other surf schools are based in Taghazout.
What you should know
The best time to surf off Morocco is from October through April. Morocco is a relatively liberal Muslim country. I saw skimpy bathing suits on the beaches, though most surfers were wearing wetsuits because the water was a little chilly. Nigel Cross of Moroccan Surf Adventures said both men and women are welcome to wear shorts and T-shirts but he also said it’s advisable to cover up arms and legs when visiting public places other than the beach.
US News & Word Report
By Ben Hamadi Zouhour
Some of these entrepreneurs are creating transport and health projects with the aim of compensating for insufficient government investment.
Entrepreneurs, Amr Sobhy, (L), CEO of Pushbots, and Kareem El-Shaffei, (R), CEO of Cirqy, talk about design in the office space at Flat6Labs in Cairo, Egypt. (Ann Hermes/The Christian Science Monitor/Getty Images)
By Ben Hamadi Zouhour
Refrigerators in the Moroccan desert; a bracelet to prevent heart attacks in Tunisia; a source funding system for charities in Egypt. Mission-driven startups are blossoming in these three North African countries, which are now at the forefront of social entrepreneurship.
Morocco now boasts more than 250 startups. With around 100 seed-stage startups, Tunisia is ranked seventh in the world as the best place to launch start-ups by SeedStars World. Egypt broke records with the creation of thousands of startups in 2012 and 2013, according to the Egyptian bureau of statistics.
How can we explain the meteoric rise of social-oriented startups in countries where economic indicators remain weak?
According to the data company Mattermark, while for several years North African startups mainly flourished in sectors like e-marketing and online dating, since 2012, they have begun appearing in areas such as banking, health, lending, currencies and e-commerce.
New businesses and collaborative economics
This trend towards collaborative economics makes sense in emerging markets where the startup business is a little under 10 years old.
Foreign backing helps finance such businesses, which are seen as unstable and insecure, and consequently receive little or no funding from traditional local banks which bridle at the prospect of a slow return on investment. It should be noted that these countries have retained a European-style investment model mainly based around banking institutions. For young entrepreneurs, foreign backing may be the only available funding source.
[RELATED: Morocco’s Film Industry Gets Mixed Reviews ]
Besides the “investment gap” left by the banking sector in countries that refuse to finance startups, foreign investors have also noticed the significant opportunities for positive social impact.
According to the Tunisian National Institute of Statistics (NIS) and the Moroccan National Institute of Statistics and Applied Economics, these companies are made up of people whose mean age ranges from 25 to 32. Young people, especially qualified young people, are terrified by rampant unemployment rates in the region. According to the NIS, there were 267,700 out-of-work graduates in Tunisia in the third quarter of 2016, amounting to 31.9 percent of the total number of unemployed people.
These young unemployed people are for the most part talented, ambitious, unfazed by change and interested in new technologies – skills sets that represent real value for investors speculating on the new economy.
While the Egyptian and Tunisian revolutions were not necessarily responsible for the rise of these startups, they helped drive their proliferation. The new generation has realized that it can play by a new set of rules. The Arab Spring freed up young people and taught them that change is not impossible and they are capable of controlling their own destinies.
An emphasis on social projects
My research on startups and young entrepreneurs has revealed one striking common attribute: whether Tunisian, Moroccan or Egyptian, they are overwhelmingly socially oriented. Knowing their countries’ economic difficulties, they are driven to fight unemployment, not just by launching their own businesses, but also by improving the lives of their fellow citizens.
[MORE: Thailand Is the Best Country to Start a Business]
A great number of these startuppers are creating transport and health projects with the aim of compensating for insufficient government investment.
For example, Tunisian startup BeThree, the brainchild of three students from the Esprit engineering school, has succeeded in developing a smart bracelet that detects abrupt changes in cardiac rhythm and arterial blood pressure in order to prevent heart attacks.
A few months ago, this startup was in talks with Wonka Lab, a Los Angeles-based startup accelerator. “Wonka Lab offered to help us develop our product for the American market,” one of the entrepreneurs told French newspaper Le Monde.
Casablanca startup Carmine facilitates car sharing, a solution for young professionals who cannot afford to buy their own vehicle. As it is still in operation, with an increasing number of available stations, the business is thinking about expanding its mission to include other Moroccan cities.
[RELATED: Cuba’s Startup Path to Entrepreneurship]
There are also startups in the crowd-sourcing sector, such as Egyptian company “Bassita” (“simple” in Arabic), which found an innovative way to raise money to provide access to clean drinking water for more than a thousand households. In 2014, this same model was used to raise the funds needed to buy a thousand pairs of glasses for embroiderers in one of the poorest regions; in 2015, it allowed thirty children who had never seen the ocean to spend a day by the Red Sea.
Moroccan startup Safa, also created by students, at the Mohammadia engineering school, developed a clay-and-wood water filter. They decided to employ housewives to build the filters and gave them a share in the profits.
Regardless of country or industry, today’s startups are vulnerable because of their heavy dependence on private investment during the seed phase, which can discourage backers.
Startups will have a significant role to play in the economic future of these countries. They now have to attract the attention of policy makers in order to obtain better regulatory and fiscal conditions for their development.
Translated from the French by Alice Heathwood for Fast for Word.
This article was written by Ben Hamadi Zouhour, Enseignant chercheur en finance comptabilité contrôle de gestion, École de Management de Normandie, for The Conversation on March 13, 2017.
Washington, DC, March 14, 2017, Moroccan American Center for Policy (MACP) —Morocco’s King Mohammed VI has concluded a five-country tour of Africa that took him to South Sudan, Ghana, Zambia, Guinea, and Côte d’Ivoire. The tour immediately followed the African Union’s (AU) decision to readmit Morocco to the continental bloc after a 33-year hiatus. Since ascending the throne in 1999, the King has made Africa a foreign policy priority, making over 50 visits to nearly 30 African countries and signing approximately one thousand bilateral agreements on economic, political, security, religious, and educational issues.
- From February 1-2, the King visited South Sudan, overseeing the signing of nine bilateral agreements with President Salva Kiir Mayardit in the areas of urban development, investment promotion, agriculture, industrial cooperation, mines, and vocational training. The King also committed funds to a feasibility study for the building of a new capital city in Ramciel; as well as to a field hospital in Juba operated by Morocco’s Royal Armed Forces.
- From February 16-19, the King visited Ghana, where he and President of Ghana Nana Akufo-Addo oversaw the signing of 25 governmental and public-private partnership agreements. The agreements center on investment, industrial cooperation, electricity, insurance, banking, agriculture, renewable energy, mining, tourism, and partnerships to promote business and engage the private sector in favor of climate action.
- From February 19-23, the King visited Zambia – his first visit to the country. The King and Zambian President Edgar Chagwa Lungu chaired a signing ceremony for 19 political and economic partnership agreements covering air services, investment promotion and protection, finance and banking, insurance, education, tourism, agriculture, technology, industry, and mining and renewable energy.
- From February 23-24, he visited Guinea-Conakry, where he oversaw the signing of eight bilateral agreements in agriculture, sanitation, fertilizers, and technical assistance; visited a vocational training complex funded by the Mohammed VI Foundation for Sustainable Development; and undertook a number of measures to strengthen religious ties between the two countries. In addition to donating 10,000 copies of the Quran to the Secretary General of Religious Affairs in Guinea, the King performed Friday prayers at the Ahl Sunna Wal Jamaa mosque, launched construction on the “Mohammed VI Mosque,” and met with imams who were part of the first class of Guinean imams to receive training at the Mohammed VI Institute in Rabat.
- From February 24-March 14, King Mohammed VI visited Côte d’Ivoire, presiding with President Alassane Ouattara over the signing of 14 economic agreements covering pharmaceuticals, public transportation and road security, women-managed small businesses, and the creation of a “Technocenter” in Abidjan. During the visit, the King and President Ouattara also chaired a ceremony presenting the progress of the Cocody Bay rehabilitation project, which the King launched in a June 2015 visit to the country. It was during that visit that the two countries established the Côte d’Ivoire-Morocco Economic Impetus Group to reinforce private sector cooperation; since then, Côte d’Ivoire has become a premier destination for Moroccan foreign investment and trade has increased threefold.
Morocco is the second largest African investor in the continent, and its trade with the rest of Africa increased by 12% annually between 2003 and 2013. In late 2013, the King established a program to train imams from across the continent in Morocco’s open, moderate form of Islam; and in June 2016, he inaugurated the Mohammed VI Foundation for African Oulema, with a mission of strengthening age-old historical and religious ties between Morocco and its African neighbors. With Morocco serving as the host country, the King also ensured that Africa’s interests on climate change policy were represented at the 22nd Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change summit in Marrakesh in November 2016, hosting a special meeting for African leaders at the event.
“With this most recent trip, King Mohammed VI has once again put words into action and taken concrete steps to solidify his commitment to the development and prosperity of African citizens and his pledge to help bring about unity and progress on the continent,” said former US Ambassador to Morocco Edward M. Gabriel.
Contact: Jordana Merran, 202.470.2049
The Moroccan American Center for Policy (MACP) is a non-profit organization whose principal mission is to inform opinion makers, government officials, and interested publics in the United States about political and social developments in Morocco and the role being played by the Kingdom of Morocco in broader strategic developments in North Africa, the Mediterranean, and the Middle East.
This material is distributed by the Moroccan American Center for Policy on behalf of the Government of Morocco. Additional information is available at the Department of Justice in Washington, DC.
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Ideal for Moroccan fruit and vegetable exports.
CMA CGM launches the newly enhanced service AGAX, which will allow the delivery of fruits and vegetables from Morocco to Russia in only 8 days without any stopover.
CMA CGM, and its subsidiaries OPDR and Comanav, now offer a weekly direct link between Morocco and Russia without any stopovers, providing perfect conditions for the shipment of fruits and vegetables. CMA CGM thus provides the fastest transit times on the market by linking Agadir and Saint Petersburg.
Southbound, the ports of Hamburg and Rotterdam still act as important hubs and offer various transshipment and intermodal opportunities.
Beside its NEW AGAX service, CMA CGM Group maintains a strong position on the Morocco-Northern Europe/Russia trade with two other weekly lines: DUNKRUS and CISS.
From March 16th, the following rotation will be operated in partnership with SEAGO with 3 x 868 TEU vessels (two being operated by CMA CGM and one by SEAGO): Casablanca – Agadir – St. Petersburg – Hamburg – Rotterdam – Casablanca.
Separately, CMA CGM is changing its DUNKRUS line to include a call in Rouen. The port was previously served by the AGAX line.
You probably haven’t seen the news about Morocco and the ECOWAS yet. In fact, you may react with “Eco-what?” I wouldn’t blame you. The ECOWAS is a regional economic group of 15 Central and West African countries, including some, like Ghana, Senegal, Liberia, and Nigeria, that you may have heard of, as well as others such as Benin, Burkina Faso, Guinea, Ivory Coast, and the Gambia, that are remarkable and interesting to those who follow the continent’s activities. All are countries with long histories and intriguing cultures. Several, like Togo and Mali, are historically significant countries that once had large empires, as covered recently in the PBS special series Africa’s Great Civilizations.
Today, the ECOWAS seeks to promote regional economic integration through multistate programs for infrastructure, industrial development, energy, agricultural, natural resources, trade and investment, financial services, and cultural affairs. It is only natural that Morocco would want to be part of the ECOWAS — it currently has observer status. The major obstacle to full membership is that the regional group does not currently include North Africa in its mandate. So to address this issue, the ECOWAS heads of state will vote on Morocco’s request in April.
On the “why do it” side is the argument that because the Arab Maghreb Union (AMU), which includes Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, and Tunisia, has been unable to effectively function, then why wouldn’t Morocco want to join a more proactive and friendly organization? It makes sense for Morocco to reach out to other francophone countries, and its trading and development partners, for economic growth opportunities. In fact, King Mohammed VI has diligently pursued stronger and more diverse ties with all of these countries for more than a decade.
According to the North Africa Post, “With the inclusion of Morocco, the ECOWAS will bolster its aggregated GDP to the 16th rank globally, ahead of Turkey and right after Indonesia. The admission of Morocco to the ECOWAS sub-region will make it the second largest economy after Nigeria (which is a member). Thanks to its geographic location and trade agreements with the EU, Turkey, the US, and several Arab countries as well as its port and airport hubs, Morocco will offer West African countries a gateway to new markets.”
Building stronger trade and investment relations to its south helps Morocco diversify commercial markets beyond its traditional ties to Europe, thus enabling reciprocal benefits with its African neighbors. It is the concept of building regional growth opportunities that underscores the MoU between Morocco and Nigeria to build an Africa Atlantic gas pipeline from the fields of Nigeria along the African coast to Morocco onwards to Europe…providing new energy supplies to fuel public and private sector development projects. For its part, Morocco will support its commitment to building the continent’s food security by sharing its expertise in the production of specialized fertilizers and agro-industries. Already announced are fertilizer plants through joint ventures with Gabon and Nigeria.
Unsurprisingly, the Algerian press is taking issue with Morocco’s ECOWAS move. According to Morocco World News, the Algerian daily El Watan “claimed that Morocco membership in ECOWAS might isolate Algeria from the African continent following the recent step of Morocco to diversify and develop its economic ties within the African continent.”
Algeria, with a badly managed, hydrocarbon-based economy according to recent articles, has often spoken about stronger ties with sub-Saharan Africa, but there are few initiatives in place. So rather than bulk up its efforts to develop its own Afro-centric economic policies, it prefers to criticize the King’s initiatives and watch as Morocco continues its outreach across Africa to build sustainable friendships and economic partnerships.
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