The moroccan press

Morocco Taps Innovative Supply Chain Strategy To Improve Its Offering

Western Sahara Worldnews - Wed, 08/09/2017 - 15:37

Sourcing Journal Online
by Tara Donaldson

Morocco has played a major role in providing fast fashion for the likes of Zara and other European retailers, like H&M and Burberry, thanks to its proximity, but now the country is looking to expand the capabilities it’s known for.

At this year’s Maroc in Mode and Maroc Sourcing, which will take place Oct. 26-27 in Marrakech, Morocco, the country will be highlighting a supply chain strategy it credits with its success.

Separating its capabilities into six areas of focus, or ecosystems—fast fashion, denim, knit, pre/sports/leisure, Moroccan brands, and leather and shoes—the country has separated its supply chain in a way that allows suppliers in these ecosystems to work together to boost both their own offerings and those of the country.

“Ecosystems are led by leading companies acting as locomotives for their branches and suppliers. These locomotives are committed to fulfill the requirements for modern production and required regulations and international standards,” said Mohamed Tazi, general director of the Moroccan Textile and Apparel Industry Association (AMITH). “Within the setup put in place, the ‘locomotives’ not only upgrade their own production systems, but also assist small companies within their ‘ecosystem’ to structure and build up industrial progression and modernity.”

Each ecosystem also has growth plans and targets, like the denim ecosystem, which expects to create 14,800 new jobs by 2020 as Morocco’s advancements in denim supply grow.

Morocco has been considered a champion of quick turn for European brands as it can get goods on land to Spain in one day and to Germany within two. The country is the seventh biggest exporter of apparel to the EU, according to AMITH. In 2015, the country exported 2.3 billion euro ($2.7 billion) to the region, with trousers and denim accounting for the largest share of exports, followed by shirts and dresses.

“The advantage of quick response has made Morocco an important partner in the business as permanent changes and new programs have to be delivered to the stores all over the year,” Tazi said. “But also the united power of the fashion industry together with governmental support assists to steadily improve the high standards of fashion. Speed, acceleration and frequency of new fresh fashion are a key condition for success.”

Though the U.S. market can’t benefit from the same quick-turn as the European companies get because of location, Tazi said there’s still lots of upsides for the American buyer.

“The Moroccan apparel industry and its fast fashion model bring added value to the retailer in terms of profitability, attractiveness and brand building. It is very well positioned to offer solutions for CM, FOB production, creativity, etc.,” Tazi explained. “Through Morocco as a manufacturing hub, you can also benefit from the strength of the big textile players from Portugal, Spain or Turkey, each one providing its own competitive advantage in its production chain.”

Maroc en Mode and Maroc Sourcing will feature 175 exhibitors from Morocco, Turkey, Tunisia, China, Belgium, Spain, France, Portugal and Egypt, and the show is expected to draw more than 1,500 buyers from around the world.

Top-Performing Arab Economy Balks At Currency Float On Egypt

Western Sahara Worldnews - Wed, 08/09/2017 - 15:18

More stories by Ahmed A Namatalla

In five decades of importing steel wires, Zahar Benmoussa’s company never worried about currency risks — until Morocco announced plans to float the dirham.

“For the first time in our history, we started to hedge” in the currency market, said Benmoussa, managing director at Casablanca-based Grillages Marocains. Across Morocco, fears of a weaker dirham triggered a rush for dollars and euros, causing a $3 billion drop in its reserves in just three months this year.

Then in June, the government put its plans on hold again. It was at least the second time it stalled on a move supported by the International Monetary Fund and a centerpiece of Morocco’s ambitions to become North Africa’s dominant financial hub. By delaying, the country risks wasting a “perfect time” in terms of its economic health to loosen controls, according to Charles Robertson, global chief economist at London-based Renaissance Capital.

“It’s fear of the unknown and pessimism on the corporates’ part,” Robertson said after a research trip to Morocco in July. There’s also the shadow cast by Egypt, he said, which saw its pound lose half of its value against the dollar after the government removed most controls in November to end a foreign-currency shortage.

Trading Band

While central bank Governor Abdellatif Jouahri has repeatedly insisted that the float would be gradually introduced starting in the second half of the year, it’s now unclear when liberalization will take place. Prime Minister Saaddine El-Otmani said July 1 that the first phase will allow the currency to fluctuate within a daily range of 5 percent, up from 0.6 percent currently.

The dirham is pegged to a two-currency basket weighted 60 percent to the euro and 40 percent to the U.S. dollar. It has fallen 4.4 percent against the euro this year, and touched a three-year low of 11.1831 per euro last week.

“The move to a more flexible exchange rateregime, not a float, is still in the cards but the rollout will take place at the appropriate time,” government spokesman Mustapha El Khalfi told reporters on July 6. The premier wants to investigate what volatility or depreciation would mean not only for the purchasing power of Morocco’s 34 million people, but also for companies doing business abroad, he said.

Some see opportunities from a weaker currency. Abdelhai Bessa, chief executive of textile and garments producer Somitex, said he hoped for an “orderly depreciation” of the dirham that would help Moroccan products compete with Turkish and Chinese goods.

‘Not Competitive’

“The authorities say they want Moroccan companies to boost exports and expand in sub-Saharan Africa, but right now we’re simply not competitive enough,” Bessa said. “Currency reform might change that.”

Yet it could also aggravate unrest which has been building in Morocco since a fish seller was crushed to death in a garbage compacter in October following a run-in with police. The incident became a focal point for a protest movement demanding political and economic reform. This week, the first protester since the unrest started died from head wounds suffered in an anti-government march in the northern city of Al-Hoceima in July.

The protests probably played a minor role in the decision to delay the float plans, according to Riccardo Fabiani, North Africa analyst at the Eurasia Group in London. More significantly, he said, was political infighting and the need for Otmani to assert his authority. He took office in March at the head of a six-faction coalition, ending a five-month political impasse that had forced King Mohamed VI to intervene.

The prime minister “had been bypassed by everyone,” with the unrest handled by the interior minister and the justice minister — both of whom are close to the monarchy, Fabiani said. The central bank was relatively the easiest target for Otmani to show that he is in charge and “not ineffective,” he said.

Good Shape

Even so, analysts say Morocco’s economy is in good shape for removing restrictions on the dirham. Unlike Egypt prior to its float, Morocco has an investment-grade credit rating and an expanding private sector. With growth expected to average 4.1 percent in 2017 and 2018, it is set to outperform most Arab economies including Egypt and Tunisia, as well as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Its budget deficit is forecast to drop to 3.1 percent this year from 4.2 percent in 2016, according to economist estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Inflation is under 2 percent.

“It’s not at all cut-and-dried whether the dirham will appreciate or depreciate when more flexibility is allowed,” Badr Fassi-Fihri, who trades currencies for Banque Centrale Populaire, said by phone from Casablanca.

The postponement was easy for Otmani because Morocco, unlike Egypt, isn’t facing a currency crisis that requires immediate action, according to Reham El Desoki, senior economist at regional investment bank Arqaam Capital.

Authorities are “thinking long about what could go wrong simply because they can afford to do so,” she said.

The repeated delays are exacerbating volatility, said Benmoussa at Grillages Marocains. “The way the authorities seem to be hesitating raises uncertainty,” he said.

Fresh Trump Efforts Against Muslim Brotherhood Gets Key Backing From Arab Allies

Western Sahara Worldnews - Tue, 08/08/2017 - 15:48

Fox News
By Ben Evansky

Arab allies of the U.S. are expressing support if the Trump administration declares the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization, according to statements from foreign officials and a senior administration official who spoke to Fox News.

Speaking last week at the United Nations in response to a question from Fox News, the Egyptian Ambassador to the U.N., Amr Abdellatif Aboulatta, expressed support for such a move.

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“It would be a positive step forward indeed,” he said.

Salman Al-Ansari, president of the Saudi American Public Affairs Committee, told Fox News that the West is suffering from “laziness and must do its homework.”

“The U.S. needs to confront the evils of the Brotherhood as soon as possible,” he said. “If you have Saudi Arabia saying the Muslim Brotherhood is a terrorist group, if you have Egypt and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) saying it’s a terrorist group, then what should stop the U.S. from designating the MB as a terrorist group as long there are hundreds of pieces of evidence that prove this fact?”

The Brotherhood is banned as a terrorist organization in Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt.

Fox News previously reported on the internal debates and deliberations in the Trump White House on the move to designate the Muslim Brotherhood as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO.)

“The fight is far from over,” a senior administration official told Fox News.

“The commitment inside the West Wing to the question of designating the Brotherhood has not waned,” the official told Fox News.

“The White House completely understands how the modern global jihadi threat, which the president has rightly described as radical Islamic terrorism, can be driven back at its roots to the Brotherhood.”

“This president is unprepared to follow the disastrous policies of prior administrations, especially the Obama White House’s empowering of the Brotherhood that led to the catastrophic consequences of the so-called Arab Spring and the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people from the Sinai to Sinjar,” the official concluded.

Christopher Holton of the Center for Security Policy, a group that has been at the forefront of efforts to designate the Muslim Brotherhood as a foreign terrorist organization, told Fox News, “It is an absolutely essential step. As the Egyptian ambassador well knows, the goals of the Muslim Brotherhood are identical to those of all the jihadist organizations, such as ISIS, Al Qaeda and Hamas: the establishment of an Islamic state ruled by Sharia.”

Holton blamed what he called “The Swamp in the State Department” for stopping the designation so far. He blamed some members of the Trump administration, including National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster.

“Combined with all the other distractions that have largely paralyzed so many initiatives on Capitol Hill, the effort to block the designation has thus far succeeded,” he said.

Jonathan Schanzer, senior vice president at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told Fox News that during the early weeks of the Trump presidency a large number of analysts warned that the move was, “ill-advised,” arguing that the move “would alienate the Muslim world and encumber diplomacy.”

Schanzer, a former terrorism finance official at the Treasury Department, said he does not believe the administration has given up on designation of the Brotherhood but he suggested it would be easier to target certain Brotherhood groups through the U.S. Treasury’s targeted sanctions program.

“The way forward is not to pursue the FTO approach at the State Department, primarily because the initiative is likely to fail,” Schanzer said. “The State Department will remain opposed…the Muslim Brotherhood is not a homogeneous organization, rather, it is made up of disparate affiliates, some of which could likely be classified as terror groups, and some not.”

“The right move is to pursue these designations in the less-politicized Treasury process in a way that is incremental and pragmatic. From there, additional affiliates can be added,” Schanzer said.

David Reaboi, the senior vice-president for strategic operations at the Security Studies Group, added, “Designating the Muslim Brotherhood would be a tremendous step in the right direction. The Muslim Brotherhood has been identified, rightly, as a threat by the countries that know it best — like Egypt, UAE, Saudi Arabia — among others.”

“These countries understand that the MB isn’t just another political or religious movement,” Reaboi added. “It’s the main engine driving the terror radicalization process. Any effort to combat Islamist terrorism needs to take the MB’s global network into account.”

Ben Evansky reports for Fox News on the United Nations and international affairs. He can be followed @BenEvansky

Ben Evansky reports for Fox News on the United Nations and international affairs.

He can be followed @BenEvansky

Morocco, Mozambique Ink MoU on Cooperation in Mediation Field

The moroccan press - Tue, 08/08/2017 - 13:42

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on cooperation in the field of expertise sharing and complaint settling was signed, Monday in Rabat, by the Moroccan Ombudsman Institution and the Justice Defender Institution in Mozambique.

Categories: The moroccan press

Morocco's Unemployment Rate Up 9.3% in 2017 Q2

The moroccan press - Tue, 08/08/2017 - 13:34

The unemployment rate in Morocco has increased from 9.1% to 9.3% between the second quarter of 2016 and 2017, according to the High Commission for Planning (HCP).

The number of unemployed has grown from 1,090,000 to 1,123,000 between the two periods, a rise of 33,000 people nationwide (45,000 more in urban areas and 12,000 fewer in rural areas), the Rabat-based institution noted in a report.

Categories: The moroccan press

Ingeteam Bags 170 MW Inverter Order For Three PV Plants In Morocco

Western Sahara Worldnews - Tue, 08/08/2017 - 12:59

Creamer Media
Engineering News

Ingeteam has commenced the supply of its equipment to three solar photovoltaic power plants in Morocco, totaling 170 MW of output power. These three PV plants, which will be amongst the largest in North Africa, are expected to be operating within a year and to have a service life of at least twenty years.

The power produced is to be supplied to the Moroccan power distribution grid, serving to cover the energy demand of thousands of homes in Morocco. This will make it possible to slightly reduce the country’s heavy reliance on foreign energy sources, given the fact that this North African country imports 90% of all the energy it consumes.

The execution of this project comes within the framework of the target set by Morocco, to produce 52% of all its energy from renewable energy sources by year 2030.

The solution supplied, namely Inverter Station, features Ingeteam’s new dual photovoltaic inverters and a medium voltage skid that integrates all the necessary components in order to inject to the grid the solar output power after transforming it from low to medium voltage.

Thus, the power transformer, the oil deposit, the medium voltage switchgear, the ancillary services transformer and the low voltage switchgear are supplied integrated into a single metal platform or skid.

Ingeteam’s dual PV inverters belong to the INGECON® SUN PowerMax B Series and are able to provide up to 2.55 MW at 1,000 Vdc. On the other hand, the 1,500 Vdc inverter version can supply up to 3.6 MW in a single 5,600 x 890 x 2,260 mm equipment, which makes it one of the market leaders in the field of power density thanks to its 317 kW/m3.

The solution supplied achieves up to 4.66 MW per Inverter Station, featuring dual inverters with 1,000 Vdc technology. These new inverters have been especially designed to withstand adverse ambient conditions.
On the other hand, in the African continent Ingeteam is responsible for the operation and maintenance of 230 MW divided into five different South African PV plants. Moreover, Ingeteam has been recently awarded the supply and commissioning of the protection, control and metering systems for three substations in Malawi.

Scope of supply

For this project Ingeteam is supplying:

    • 35 inverter stations fitted with all the necessary equipment to inject medium voltage power: dual photovoltaic inverters, LV/MV transformer, medium voltage switchgear, auxiliary services transformer and low voltage switchgear.
    • Commissioning of the system.
    • Operation & Maintenance Service.


Ingeteam is a leading company specializing in the design of power and control electronics (frequency converters, process automation and control systems), electrical machines (generators and motors), electrical engineering and generating plants. To date, Ingeteam has supplied 46 GW in power converters for renewable energy plants and is amongst the TOP 10 companies dedicated to the operation and maintenance of renewable plants, with a portfolio of more than 10 GW.

The company operates in all continents, and has a headcount of 3,900 employees around the world. Ingeteam invests 5% of its annual turnover in R&D, which is the backbone of the company’s business activity.

EDITED BY: Creamer Media Reporter

Polisario Irked By Uruguay’s Refusal To Seize A Cargo Of Moroccan Phosphate

Western Sahara Worldnews - Mon, 08/07/2017 - 15:32

Sahara News
by Ali Haidar

The authorities of Uruguay, one of the few Latin American countries that still support the Polisario’s separatist claims, refused to seize a ship carrying 300 tons of Moroccan phosphate from the Boucraa deposit in Western Sahara.

Following suit to Panama, which eventually released a ship carrying a shipment of phosphate from southern Morocco destined to Canada, Uruguay inflicted a new blow to the Algeria-backed Polisario Front.

The separatist front, which has seemingly exhausted all its options in the diplomatic battle it is waging over Western Sahara, embarked on a new adventure in its attempt to challenge Morocco’s exploitation of natural resources in the Moroccan southern provinces.

So far, all seizure requests made by the Polisario to the countries where ships loaded with phosphate or other products from the Sahara transit were turned down.

Only South Africa responded favorably to the separatists’ request and immobilized the vessel Cherry Blossom, loaded with 55,000 tons of Moroccan Sahara phosphates, that was heading to New Zealand.

This position, which has no legal foundation, finds its full explanation in the fact that corrupt President Jacob Zuma’s regime is fiercely hostile to Morocco and its interests and is aligned with the foreign policy of Algeria, the main supporter of the Polisario.

The request of the Polisario, which was trying to reproduce in Uruguay what it did in South Africa, was turned down by Uruguayan judicial authorities, as did Panama early June. The Panamanian Maritime Court had actually refused to seize the ship “Ultra Innovation” with a shipload of Moroccan phosphate from the town of Laayoune as requested by the Polisario and its lobbyists.

The Panamanian court simply declared itself “incompetent” to rule on “a matter of international politics”, especially since the Polisario Front was not the owner of the shipment, subject of the seizure request.

The decision of the courts of both Panama and Uruguay embarrasses South African justice and political authorities vis-a-vis not only Morocco and the owners of the Cherry Blossom vessel but also the entire international community and the World Trade Organization (WTO), because there is no justification for such a decision in maritime law and international trade law.

Morocco To Host China-Africa Investment Forum In November

Western Sahara Worldnews - Mon, 08/07/2017 - 13:23

Xinhuanet cn
Source: Xinhua

The 2nd edition of the China-Africa Investment Forum (CAIF) will be held in the Moroccan city of Marrakech on Nov. 27-28, local media reported on Monday.

The forum will bring together more than 400 top level Chinese and African business leaders, the Moroccan financial daily l’Economiste said.

This event will facilitate business meetings between the main stakeholders of trade and investment between China and Africa countries in order to foster the creation of sustainable partnerships with high added value, particularly in the industrial sector.

The forum dedicates two days of conferences and debates to the financial implications for African economies and making the continent a true industrial platform.

Alongside the conferences, practical workshops will provide insights and keys to understanding Chinese and African economic policies and operational environments.

Morocco is Well-Heeded, Respected by Other African Countries, Argentinian Expert

The moroccan press - Mon, 08/07/2017 - 13:02

Morocco is well-heeded and respected among other African states, said Argentinian expert Pablo Javier Zardini, deeming that the return of Morocco to the African Union is a very positive step that would contribute to the development of the continent.

Categories: The moroccan press

Morocco's African Leadership is Fruit of Development Efforts Undertaken Thanks to HM the King's Insight, Argentinian Expert

The moroccan press - Mon, 08/07/2017 - 12:58

Morocco's African leadership is the fruit of local development efforts undertaken by the Kingdom thanks to the wisdom and insight of HM King Mohammed VI, said Argentinian expert Adalberto Carlos Agozino.

"The continental leadership of Morocco is the fruit of local development efforts undertaken by the Kingdom thanks to the wisdom and insight of HM King Mohammed VI", he told MAP on the sidelines of a reception offered by the Moroccan embassy in Buenos Aires on the occasion of the Throne Day.

Categories: The moroccan press

Pan-African Parliament Expresses Support for HM the King's Vision for Africa

The moroccan press - Mon, 08/07/2017 - 12:56

The Pan-African Parliament expressed his support for the vision of HM King Mohammed VI for Africa.

Speaker of the Pan-African Parliament Roger Nkodo Dang voiced, in a message to the sovereign, his full, unconditional and unwavering adherence to the vision of HM the King in the world, for Morocco in particular and Africa in general, reiterating the parliament's support for this vision.

Categories: The moroccan press

Belgian Paper Highlights Development of Start-ups Sector in Morocco

The moroccan press - Mon, 08/07/2017 - 12:54

Belgian paper "L'Echo" highlighted Saturday the development of the start-ups sector in Morocco which has adopted new measures to promote the status of "auto-entrepreneur" (self-employment) aimed at reaching 100,000 subscribers in 2017.
Belgian Paper Highlights Development of Start-ups Sector in Morocco
05 August 2017

Categories: The moroccan press

Morocco Sees Promising Surge Of Overseas Tourists

Western Sahara Worldnews - Mon, 08/07/2017 - 01:52

Xinhuanet China
Source: Xinhua

After a slight growth last year amid security challenges, Morocco’s key tourism sector sees a promising surge of tourists from around the globe.

In 2016, visitor arrivals barely raised by 1.5 percent from 2015 to stood at 10.3 million tourists, falling far short of the expected increase to reach an ambitious official target of 20 million per year by 2020.

According to data from the Moroccan Tourism Ministry, some 4.6 million tourists visited Morocco between January and June 2017, a 9 percent increase year on year.

Tourists from the United States grew by 27 percent, Germany by 12 percent, the Netherlands 8 percent, Spain 7 percent and France 5 percent, which represent growth in visitor numbers from key markets of Moroccan tourism.

The increase was also driven by the surge in Morocco’s emerging tourist markets, especially China and Japan. China arrivals jumped by 565 percent, and Japanese visitors grew by 46 percent.

South Korean visitors also increased by 42 percent and Brazilian tourists by 41 percent.

The surge in Chinese visitors relates to Morocco’s new visa-free travel policy for Chinese nationals, started on June 1 of 2016. The air connectivity is also improved between the two countries.

“Growth is expected to continue through 2017, with 100,000 Chinese tourists forecast to visit Morocco throughout the year, up from 42,000 in 2016,” a recent report by the Oxford Business Group (OBG) said.

“A stable and secure political environment, combined with incentives and infrastructural development, has helped Morocco to create an attractive investment climate, resulting in a raft of new hotel projects,” the report added.

Positive performance is also seen in various tourist destinations in the north African kingdom, many of which registered two digit growth. Visitors to Fez increased by 38 percent, Tangier by 29 percent and Marrakech by 19 percent.

Morocco expects tourist arrivals to grow by 6 percent in 2017. Official Tourism observatory director Said Mouhid said earlier the kingdom could reach a record of 11 million tourists by the end of this year.

However, the rise in the number of tourists have not translated into a parallel increase in revenues. At the end of June 2017, Morocco’s tourism revenue totaled 2.77 billion U.S. dollars, a 0.7 percent decrease year on year, according to the Foreign Exchange Office’s preliminary financial flow indicators for the first half of 2017.

Tourism remains a vital pillar of the Moroccan economy and the country’s second biggest employer, after agriculture. The sector accounts for 10 percent of national income and, along with exports and remittances from Moroccans living abroad, it is one of the country’s main sources of foreign currency.

Morocco Curbs Radicalisation Through Religious Reform: Envoy (IANS Interview)

Western Sahara Worldnews - Sun, 08/06/2017 - 08:06

Business Standard
IANS | New Delhi

Morocco, a North African nation almost touching Europe, has emerged as an “island of stability” in a volatile region due to its tight control over religion, that includes training ulemas and imams “so that they do not go about preaching wrong things”, the country’s Ambassador here has said.

Ambassador Mohamed Maliki said it was not enough to leave religious affairs to mosques and preachers and that is why the Moroccan government in the Muslim country, whose basic unity was forged from its diverse influences, has established institutes for “ulemas (preachers) and imams”, who now include women as well.

“We think Islam has not been understood the way it should be. It has been used by radicalised people for political reasons,” the Ambassador told IANS in an interview.

He said Morocco has emerged as an island of stability in North Africa and was fighting terrorism with a “three pillar” strategy.

“The first one is socio-economic development, because we want to remove the sources and also the causes of the radicalisation. We have understood that most of these people, if not all, are recruited from very poor backgrounds. The socio-economic issue is quite important to alleviate the poverty of people and then also give them a way of decent living,” he said.

“The second pillar is the reform of the religious field. Because we in Morocco feel that religious field should be under the authority of the government,” said the Ambassador.

“Then the third pillar, of course, is that of intelligence and security. Sharing of intelligence both regionally and internationally. Unless there is serious cooperation and then a strong will from all countries to cooperate, we won’t be able to remove the sources of this (terrorism),” he said.

The envoy said Morocco, with its strategic geographical location, could be India’s bridge to French-speaking West Africa that has enormous untapped investment potential.

Maliki hailed India as “a great nation” that enjoys a “high profile in Asia” and “has its way of dealing with things”.

He said the two countries have come closer to translate their 60 years of diplomatic ties into a “strategic partnership” that would include, in addition to traditional sectors, new areas not covered until now by bilateral cooperation, such as security.

“My objective and idea are to encourage more investment, to explore sectors that have not been explored earlier, like energy. We can also think of maritime issues, blue economy. Why not also in fishing, agriculture, e-governance, education and air links between the two countries,” Maliki said.

India could capitalise on the business opportunities in Morocco that lies at the crossroads of continents and only 15 km from Europe.

Ties between the two countries have been growing at a slow pace even as there has been a steady upswing in relations after Morocco King Mohammed VI visited India in 2015 to participate in the India-Africa Forum Summit in New Delhi.

“Morocco has access to more than 1.2 billion consumers free of customs duties,” Maliki said, explaining that his country has freight rate agreements with West African nations that give “us access”.

Maliki said India and Morocco can partner in sectors like agriculture, renewable energy “in which we are leading in the world now” in terms of capacity.

(Sarwar Kashani can be contacted at

Morocco PM Cancels 10 Ministers’ Vacations Over Delay In Development Projects

Western Sahara Worldnews - Sun, 08/06/2017 - 01:45

Source: Xinhua

Moroccan Prime Minister Saadeddine El Othmani cancelled vacations of 10 ministers over delay in development projects in the country’s restive northeastern region, local media reported on Saturday.

The ministers usually take their annual vacations in August.

According to the Moroccan daily Assabah, El Othmani has formally informed the 10 ministers, adding that the concerned ministers will also not be allowed to leave the country.

PM instructed the ministers to closely follow up the projects and make regular visits to ensure their proper implementation, the same source pointed out.

In 2015, Morocco launched Lighthouse of the Mediterranean, a large-scale development program in the north-eastern province of Al Hociema, but many of its projects have been marred by delays.

Disappointed by the delays, King Mohammed VI ordered in late June the cancelling of the vacations for the ministers concerned with the implementation of the development program, and set up an investigation committee to hold related officials responsible for the delays.

In a speech to the nation on the occasion of the 18th anniversary of ascension to the throne on July 29, the king blamed politicians and public officials for their low performance and for the delay witnessed in the implementation of a set of social projects in Morocco’s different regions, including Al Hociema.

The situation in Al Hoceima has been tense since October 2016, when fish vendor Mouhcine Fikri was crushed to death after climbing into a rubbish lorry to retrieve his swordfish confiscated by police.

The demand for justice for Fikri in the northeastern region has evolved into a major grassroots movement to protest the delay in the implementation of scheduled projects, requesting greater government investment to create more jobs.

Currently returning to calm, Morocco has not witnessed any protests of this size since the pro-democracy demonstrations during the Arab spring in 2011.

Travel To Tangier, Morocco, Delivers An Elderly Money-saving Device

Western Sahara Worldnews - Sat, 08/05/2017 - 18:00

The Australian
Nancy Telfer
Picture: Getty Images

We have travelled overseas with an older family member several times with great success but have restricted it to the comfort zone of the US, with no language issues or complex cultural challenges. This time we are going to Europe, untouched territory, and how excited we are.

As usual I have the task of organising the itinerary and accommodation. As I become more emboldened I select a tour of Spain that to my delight includes a day trip to Tangier, across the Strait of Gibraltar, in northwest Morocco. So many pieces of paper are printed with information of how and where we are travelling and these are distributed with anticipation that at least the important features will be read. How wrong I am.

Not only are the pages designated to the pile of unread brochures, but the itinerary remains a mystery to everyone but me. So there’s shock when it is discovered that the whole trip is to be done on public transport and not a dedicated bus or private car.

The day for our trip to Tangier arrives. We are to catch a ferry from Tarifa and my sense of foreboding increases. I suggest to the older family member that perhaps remaining at the hotel on Spanish soil might, after several weeks of travelling, be of some familiarity and that Morocco might push things too far. I don’t know whether or not it is fear of being alone for the day but there she is, next to us on the ferry getting her passport stamped.

I am heady with delight in anticipating somewhere completely different and am not disappointed. The markets, snake charmers and even the carpet salesmen running down the street after us match the Tangier of my imagination, but it becomes all too much for the older one. The aghast look on her face says it all.

When the next group of trinket sellers swarms all over her, one of our party leaps to her defence with the cry, “No! In Australia we have an evil leader who only lets old people out of the country once in 10 years and they are not allowed to carry any money!”

Once the laughter dies down, we cherish this memorable moment of a wonderful journey.

Talking Frontiers In North Africa: Why Borderland Matters

Western Sahara Worldnews - Fri, 08/04/2017 - 14:45
Written by @Eubulletin

In recent years, there have been four major sets of events that have brought back the discussion around borders in the Maghreb region. These are: the ongoing conflicts in Syria and Libya and their broader impact on the international community and order, the humanitarian disaster in the Mediterranean and its repercussions and media coverage in Europe; the temporary reintroduction of border checks within the Schengen area, and the renewed calls for deeper cooperation on border surveillance and patrolling with countries of origin and of transit in the Maghreb and in Africa.

Never before has reinforced cooperation on border controls attracted so much attention from policy makers in international forums. While the humanitarian needs of the individuals crossing borders as well as their fundamental rights to leave any country are recognized, the international consensus is such that it pushes countries to ‘take measures to prevent irregular border crossings’ to say whom to admit and whom to deport. Borders are indeed very symbolic and carry a range of functional attributes. Moreover, the borderland may interact with other dimensions of the border including control, identity and meaning.

However, at a state level, intensifying border controls implies redefining external relations. For example, Morocco’s deepened cooperation with Spain on border controls and deportation alienated this North African country from its traditional sub-Saharan African partners. Later, the toppling of Muammar Gaddafi and the declining influence of Libya in sub-Saharan Africa opened a new opportunity. Rabat is seen by some as having revamped its ‘African strategy’ based on soft power which turned out to be an agreement with its strategy to co-opt some sub-Saharan countries with an intention to narrow Algeria’s scope for action in Africa and to strengthen Moroccan territorial claims on Western Sahara.

Moreover, reinforced controls on external borders cause a reformulation of relations between the parties involved. Nowadays, unprecedented patterns of interconnectedness among countries in Western Mediterranean have become so consolidated that any unilateral form of conditionality must be scrutinized not to jeopardize cooperation. In broader terms, it is probably safe to say that cooperation on border and migration controls has actually become the number one priority in North African–EU relations but at the same time remained peripheral to other strategic issue areas.

The western vision currently assumes that regional integration processes should be characterized by clear-cut bordered areas. However, some analysts are now calling for the borderlands to be considered as grassroots integration processes capable of tackling the divide between border people’s day-to-day realities and the sovereign preserve of states. However, since borderlands span a few neighboring states, their intrinsic cross-border dynamics should be preserved.

‘Approaching Borders and Frontiers in North Africa’ – Analysis by Jean-Pierre Cassarino – Chatham House, The Royal Institute of International Affairs.

(The Analysis can be downloaded here)

Nigerian Pirates Kidnap Moroccan Crew

Western Sahara Worldnews - Fri, 08/04/2017 - 01:21

Premium Times Nigeria
Agency Report

Nigerian pirates have kidnapped five crew members, three of them from Morocco, from a general cargo vessel identified as the Panama-flagged Oya 1 around 15 nautical miles south west of Bonny Island.

The kidnapping, according to World Maritime News, quoting Moroccan media, occurred on July 31.

The attack was confirmed by IMB Piracy Reporting Centre.

“The incident was reported to the Nigerian navy who responded and located the ship. It was reported that some crew members were missing,” the IMB said.

As informed, the Nigerian navy vessel towed the ship to a safe port for investigation.

Based on the latest report from the piracy watchdog, pirates in Nigeria continue to dominate when it comes to reports of kidnappings, and vessels being fired upon.

In recent time, 31 crew in five reported incidents have been taken by Nigerian pirates.

The numbers include 14 crew members taken from two separate vessels in the second quarter of the year.

Morocco’s King Is Serious About Reform – Kristen Kouttab

Morocco on the move - Thu, 08/03/2017 - 17:30

Kristen Kouttab, MAC
August 3, 2017

To observers of a country undergoing democratic reform, it may seem curious when the person most invested in shifting power away from the monarchy is the monarch.

And yet, that is exactly what we are witnessing in Morocco, where King Mohammed VI delivered a strikingly unusual speech last Saturday on the occasion of Throne Day, marking the 18th anniversary of his reign.

In the post-Cold War era, there has been consensus in the international community on the importance of democratic reform. Governments in the Middle East and North Africa have often been – legitimately – criticized for introducing token elements of democracy in a bid to stay in power without effecting any real change. Some of those countries, including Libya, Tunisia, and Egypt, were eventually engulfed in upheaval during the Arab Spring, as citizens finally said, “enough is enough.”

Morocco has taken a different path under King Mohammed VI, who has been championing democratization ever since he assumed the throne in 1999. Over the past two decades, Morocco has introduced serious reforms intended to dilute the concentration of power away from the monarchy and toward representative institutions. The country has passed laws and introduced initiatives to improve human rights and encourage citizen engagement with government and civil society. The King’s support has been central to these advancements.

Recently, however, movement forward in Morocco has been slow, and progress on social and economic development has been challenging. With several months of ongoing demonstrations in the north, the King was widely anticipated to address these persistent issues in his Throne Day speech last Saturday. He did, and he went even further than expected. This time, it was the King’s turn to say, “Enough is enough!” Literally.

Saturday’s speech was remarkable in that the King not only bluntly acknowledged criticisms of the democratization process in Morocco, but also embraced them. “All in all,” he said, “our development policy choices remain sound. The problem lies with mentalities that have not evolved, as well as with the inability to implement projects and to innovate.” He demanded swift implementation of development projects and regional initiatives, and he harshly criticized the failure of the public sector to actually serve the public.

He also expressed disdain for self-serving bureaucrats whose unaccountability and incompetence have been damaging the Moroccan people’s trust in democratic institutions. “When results are positive,” he said, “political parties, politicians and officials vie for the spotlight to derive benefits from the achievements made… However, when matters do not turn out the way they should, they hide behind the Royal Palace [and] as a result, citizens complain to the King about government services or officials…”

I imagine it must be tiring to be widely considered Morocco’s only responsible – and responsive – public servant.

It is true that the democratization process in Morocco has not been flawless, but it should be more than clear that the King and the country are absolutely committed to moving that process forward. Saturday’s speech seemed to indicate a new chapter in Morocco’s democratization: a shift to maturing the institutions and processes already in place and making them function properly through a new focus on good governance.

The King used his speech to firmly outline his expectations for such governance going forward but also promised to continue safeguarding the interests of the country and the rights, freedoms, and interests of the people. “I will not accept any backtracking on democratic achievements,” he said, “nor will I tolerate any obstruction.”

Democracy is more than just a purple thumb. It is a complex system of performance-related government activities and public servants working for the benefit of the country and the people. Morocco’s King has an unmistakable long-term vision for the country and is actively committed to real democratic reform. The Moroccan people are lucky to have him.

Kristen Kouttab is the Deputy Communications Director at the Moroccan American Center

The post Morocco’s King Is Serious About Reform – Kristen Kouttab appeared first on Morocco On The Move.

Categories: The moroccan press

Every Summer, Spain Hosts Annual Exodus To North Africa

Western Sahara Worldnews - Thu, 08/03/2017 - 16:02

The Citizen
by Alvaro Villalobos/AFP

It’s the largest annual human migration in Europe: millions of people from France, Belgium and Italy cross Spain every summer to spend their holidays with family in north Africa.

This year, close to three million are expected to make the trip there and back through 16 ports in Spain, Morocco and Algeria in an exodus that presents a huge logistical challenge.

In 2016, Spain’s civil protection agency registered 2.8 million passengers crossing the country, and it expects even more to make the trip this year.

As a result, some 13,000 police officers have been mobilised on the Spanish side, along with translators and Red Cross volunteers.

Said Arrhamani, who lives in France’s northeastern Ardennes region, knows the route off by heart, having done it since he was a kid when his family would spend their summer holidays in Rabat in Morocco.

It’s now his turn to drive his four young children more than 2,000 kilometres (1,200 miles) down to the port of Algeciras in Spain’s south, through which more than half of those crossing the country transit.

“Thirty years ago, this was pretty unhealthy,” says the 36-year-old in the port where a hectic atmosphere reigns, with cars, trucks and buses filling all available parking spaces, waiting to board ferries.

“We could wait two days before boarding, and there were traffic jams that reached the outskirts of Algeciras.

“Now there are agents who speak to us in French and guide us until the end.”

As drivers approach southern Spain, road signs also appear in Arabic giving directions to the ports.

– Longer but cheaper –

At the Algeciras port, most cars — some modest, others expensive — are filled with clothes, food, nappies and blankets.

While some holidaymakers eat and chat, others sleep inside their car or lie down on carpets in the shade, and still more smoke hookah pipes.

Children play football nearby.

“We left Nice (in southeastern France) yesterday at nine at night, and we arrived this afternoon,” says Karima Bel Hafout, travelling to Rabat via Tangier with her husband and two children.

“It’s close to 2,000 kilometres, but we save 2,700 euros ($3,200) compared to taking the plane.”

Others have taken the bus, and arrive even more tired.

“I’ve done my back in trying to sleep,” says Hamid Hafid, with a mix of resignation and humour, having come from Agen in southern France.

“It’s hard and long,” adds his friend Said Khadrouf, drinking from his water bottle.

– High security –

After spending time back home, they will all go back north again in August and the first half of September under the watchful eye of Spanish security agents.

To avoid illegal immigration and fearing extremist attacks, agents from 16 other European countries have been mobilised to work with officers in Spain.

Last year, they checked 1.6 million passengers, Spanish police said.

Manuel Alcazar, the port’s chief of protection, says all this activity takes its toll on the port, one of the biggest in Europe.

Sitting in front of a high-definition screen in his office, where he examines the footage of close to 700 security cameras, he explains that on peak days, authorities give priority to passengers.

This, however, means that the loading of trucks carrying merchandise goes slower.

And this is an important part of the activity of a port which deals with merchandise from Spanish textiles group Inditex, spare parts for car-maker Renault, which has a factory in Tangier, agricultural products and seafood.

But for shipping companies, the annual exodus is good for business, particularly for those who operate in the Strait of Gibraltar — they make 40 percent of their annual turnover between mid-June and mid-September.

The mass migration wave also creates temporary jobs in Algeciras, a city of 120,000, where 28,000 direct and indirect posts depend on the port.

Among these are more than 200 young people wearing fluorescent yellow shirts who help direct the traffic and count the vehicles with the help of smartphones.

Isabel Corrales, about to start her last year of studying administration and finance at university, is one such temporary worker.

She’s been doing this every summer for five years, and the money earned — close to 1,000 euros — helps her finance her studies.

“This money is very welcome,” she says with a large smile.