The moroccan press

Moroccan King Concludes Five-Country Africa Tour on Heels of African Union Decision

Morocco on the move - Tue, 03/14/2017 - 19:03

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.

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 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.

The post Moroccan King Concludes Five-Country Africa Tour on Heels of African Union Decision appeared first on Morocco On The Move.

Categories: The moroccan press

CMA CGM Launches A New Direct And Faster Service Without Any Stopover Between Morocco And Russia

Western Sahara Worldnews - Tue, 03/14/2017 - 17:12

AJOT
By: AJOT
Liner Shipping

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.

When a Commitment to Economic Growth Has its Detractors – Jean R. AbiNader

Morocco on the move - Tue, 03/14/2017 - 14:30

Jean R. AbiNader, MATIC
March 14, 2017

Jean R. AbiNader, Exec. Dir., Moroccan American Trade and Investment Center

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.

The post When a Commitment to Economic Growth Has its Detractors – Jean R. AbiNader appeared first on Morocco On The Move.

Categories: The moroccan press

Moroccan Flag Hoisted at AU Headquarters in Addis Ababa:

The moroccan press - Tue, 03/14/2017 - 11:49

The Moroccan flag was hoisted on Monday at the headquarters of the African Union (AU) in Addis Ababa, a historic event after the Kingdom's return to the pan-African grouping.

   Outside the compound, the national flag was hoisted at a ceremony attended by Morocco’s Ambassador to Ethiopia, Nezha Alaoui M'Hamdi, elected chairman of the AU Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, outgoing Chairperson of the AU Commission, Dlamini Zuma, as well as several ambassadors accredited to Addis Ababa.

Categories: The moroccan press

Mezouar Receives Eritrean Foreign Minister, Carrying Message from Eritrean President to HM the King

The moroccan press - Tue, 03/14/2017 - 11:47

Foreign Minister Salaheddine Mezouar received, here Monday, his Eritrean peer, Mohammed Osman Saleh, who handed him a message addressed to HM the King by Eritrean President, HE Isaias Afwerki.

The Eritrean Minister was accompanied by Yemane Ghebreab Woldeyohan, Political Advisor to the President.

MAP 13 March 2017

Categories: The moroccan press

Bahraini Sovereign Commends HM King Mohammed VI's Role in Strengthening Bilateral Relations

The moroccan press - Tue, 03/14/2017 - 11:45

HM King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa of Bahrain expressed his pride in the efforts and role of HM King Mohammed VI in strengthening relations between the two countries, wishing to Morocco and its brotherly people further prosperity and progress under the wise leadership of the Sovereign.

Categories: The moroccan press

Morocco Tries 25 Over Western Sahara Killings

Western Sahara Worldnews - Tue, 03/14/2017 - 11:32

The New Arab

The 25 accused were handed sentences ranging from 20 years to life in 2013 [AFP]

Retrial of Sahrawis accused of killing Moroccan security forces resumes three years after the accused were handed hefty sentences in a trial described as ‘unfair’.

A Moroccan court on Monday resumed the trial of of 25 Sahrawis accused of killing 13 people, mostly security forces, in the contested Western Sahara’s Gdeim Izik camp in November 2010.

The killings are alleged to have occurred as Moroccan security forces cleared the camp near the city of Laayoune after a riot had broken out.

Outside the court of appeal in Sale, near the capital Rabat, supporters of the defendants and victims exchanged slogans, separated by a line of police.

“No to impunity for killers!” shouted dozens of victims’ relatives, waving Moroccan flags and pictures of soldiers killed.

“Freedom for political prisoners!” shouted a crowd of Sahrawi activists.

Inside the courtroom, a giant screen broadcasting of the hearing played for the security forces, lawyers, victims’ relatives and reporters present.

A military court sentenced all of the defendants in 2013 to a range of punishments, ranging from 20 years to life imprisonment.

International observers and NGOs, however, slammed the trial as “unfair,” causing the court of cassation in July to order a new trial in a civilian court.

On Monday, defence lawyers expressed their lack of faith in the new trial.

The trial “is taking place in very unfair conditions, but we remain at the defendants’ side”, they said.

Ahmed Atertour, president of an association for families and friends of the victims, said he had “confidence in Moroccan justice to commemorate the memory of our… martyrs”.

Morocco says Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony under its control, is an integral part of the kingdom.

The Algeria-backed Polisario Front, meanwhile, demands a referendum on self-determination for the territory.

Previewing USAID’s 60 Year Anniversary in Morocco – Caitlin Dearing Scott

Morocco on the move - Mon, 03/13/2017 - 21:24

Caitlin Dearing Scott
March 13, 2017

Caitlin Dearing Scott, SVP, Research, Programs, and Policy, MAC

2017 marks a special year for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in Morocco – the 60th anniversary of its partnership in the Kingdom. According to the agency, “Since 1957, the United States has placed Morocco at the heart of its foreign diplomacy. Throughout this proud shared history, the American people, through USAID, have invested in the human, economic, and institutional development in Morocco. Hand in hand with the people and government of Morocco, we have achieved major milestones.”

USAID officially launched its programs in Morocco on April 2, 1957, when the two countries signed an agreement for the US to provide Morocco with economic and technical assistance. Since that time, the US has invested over $2 billion in Morocco working on a range of issues, including education, health, and economic development, with a special emphasis on reaching women and youth.

Some of the highlights of the last 60 years include:

  • The construction of dams and water systems to make more land available for productive use;
  • Family planning and reproductive health programs that have drastically reduced infant and maternal mortality rates;
  • Job creation programs and support for the creation of microcredit institutions to provide capital hundreds of thousands of small businesses owners; and
  • Teacher training programs to improve education at all levels.

As a result of this support and cooperation with the Moroccan government, the Kingdom has witnessed profound change, leading USAID to conclude its overview of the last 60 years by noting:

Today, Morocco remains a stable Monarchy and a vital ally to the United States. The Government of Morocco and its citizens show clear commitment to democratic change and are working towards enhanced citizen participation in achieving greater social and economic opportunity for all citizens through targeted and progressive reforms.

USAID plans to honor this anniversary with a special celebration every month of the year, focused on “past and present successes in a specific sector: from civil society engagement, to agriculture, to youth opportunity.” Stay tuned to MOTM as we cover the anniversary and celebrate this special relationship!

The post Previewing USAID’s 60 Year Anniversary in Morocco – Caitlin Dearing Scott appeared first on Morocco On The Move.

Categories: The moroccan press

Upon High Instructions of HM the King, Major General, Inspector General of FAR Receives Chief of Staff of the French Army

The moroccan press - Mon, 03/13/2017 - 16:35

Upon high instructions of HM the King, Supreme Commander and Chief of General Staff of the Royal Armed Forces (FAR), Major General, Inspector General of FAR, received, Monday in Rabat, General of the Army Jean-Pierre Dosser, Chief of Staff of the French Army, who is leading a large military delegation on a working visit to Morocco (March 12-14).

Categories: The moroccan press

US News & World Report Names Morocco among 50 Best Countries

The moroccan press - Mon, 03/13/2017 - 12:01

 For the second year in a row Morocco was ranked among the top 50 best countries by US News & World Report's Best Countries listing, released earlier this week.

Produced in partnership with Y&R's BAV Consulting group and the Wharton School of Pennsylvania, the listing evaluates 80 countries based on a survey of more than 21,000 respondents worldwide in nine sub-categories: Adventure, Citizenship, Cultural Influence, Entrepreneurship, Heritage, Movers, Open for Business, Power, and Quality of Life.

Categories: The moroccan press

Morocco's ECOWAS Adherence Request, Additional Step in HM the King's Ambitious African Strategy, Jeune Afrique

The moroccan press - Mon, 03/13/2017 - 11:56

The request of Morocco to join the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is an additional step in the ambitious African strategy elaborated by HM King Mohammed VI, wrote weekly "Jeune Afrique".

"After the Addis Abeba event, Morocco made another big announcement, on Feb. 24 from Guinea," the magazine recalled in an article entitled "Marocafique (acte II)", noting that HM the King gave his orders to submit Morocco's request to join ECOWAS, a regional grouping bringing together 15 countries in the continent.

Categories: The moroccan press

An Inside Look Into Africa’s First Eco-city: Zenata, Morocco

Western Sahara Worldnews - Mon, 03/13/2017 - 09:41

Devex
Inside Development Produced In Partnership: Smart Cities
By Christin Roby
@robyreports

CASABLANCA, Morocco — A short distance outside Casablanca, the bustling city turns into open fields, grazing animals and remnants of an industrial site.

Kids run between tall, white apartment buildings where clothes hang from the windows, as adults walk to Friday prayer service at the pink and blue mosque that serves as the neighborhood focal point.

Not far away, construction workers lay gray bricks as a new residential area takes shape.

Welcome to the beginnings of Zenata Eco-City, an innovative urban development project in Morocco that aims to present a possible solution to African urbanization issues and also to the broader international community, as many nations across the globe attempt to respond to growing urban populations. Developing new cities in African countries could pose a high rewarding potential where urban populations are expected to increase by 15 percent by 2030, according to the World Bank.

Zenata is a locally designed and managed city created on the basis of three fundamental sustainable development pillars: environmental, social and economic. Within this framework, designers put a focus on air quality, sewage, transport, and most importantly, job creation. Leaders at the Zenata Development Company — known by its French name Société d’Aménagement Zenata, or SAZ — say their systemic approach is unique in building a sustainable, environmentally friendly and well-connected city all the way from conception to realization.

What also makes Zenata distinct, its creators and backers say, is an ecologically responsible design that maximizes use of natural resources at a city scale. Thirty percent of the city’s first development phase has been set aside as green space, with a central park to promote biodiversity. Wind directions have been modelled to allow natural cooling from the Atlantic Ocean, which borders the community. A mixed sewage collection system that redirects rainwater toward retention ponds contributes to the development of the naturally green landscape.

Zenata is one of many planned cities sprouting up in Morocco, thanks to a national agenda introduced by King Mohammed VI, which includes major institutional reform and an expansive development plan. Since 2009, strategic plans, environmental impact assessments and technical feasibility studies shaped the project until 2012, when the first phase of the commercial center began and land plots for hotels, services and facilities were sold.

SAZ focused strictly on what concerned the project locally, Mohamed Naciri, SAZ business development director, told Devex, and from there developed a framework that answered exactly the needs of their project. “We benchmarked and we looked at all the international standards but we realized they were not fit to us, they did not fit the environment and local issues,” said Naciri.

Although Zenata is a 30-40 year project, SAZ has already moved from conception to realization. For the first development zone — an area of 2,000 acres (800 hectares) — the major sewage system is complete. The first interchange and major roads provide access to the area and the first phase of the retail center is open, with an IKEA store welcoming customers daily.

Zenata expects to be a family and leisure destination. “We hope to have 15 to 18 million visitors per year that will spend at least half a day, up to a weekend with us,” Naciri said.

Alongside visitors, Zenata has an ambition to attract up to 300,000 residents via their economic model, which includes the construction of an integrated health care and biomedical center, an international university campus, and Morocco’s largest shopping center. These facilities are expected to create 100,000 jobs. An industrial zone will provide manufacturing jobs, while the shopping center will offer retail opportunities. Zenata will feature more than 20,000 meters of walking lanes, as well as internal trams, buses and taxis.

Building a city is not easy, Naciri told Devex. Urbanization can have positive or negative impacts on societies. In some cases, urbanization leads to economic growth, a greater exchange of ideas/talents and poverty reduction. Urban living is also usually associated with a higher standard of living. But at times, it can stymie progress and cause further inequality, housing shortages and social impacts surrounding lack of opportunities for the entire population. The development team at Zenata has tried to minimize the negative impact by intertwining solutions to these problems into their master urban plan.

The most complex part, Naciri said, was working with the vast numbers of partners at the state, national and international levels. Swiss experts helped develop the internal traffic plan. European funders invested and private local companies made plans for relocation and installation. “It’s what we call in French ‘la gouvernance’ and it’s the overall management of all parties and it’s not an easy issue, but it’s essential to work with everyone at the same time, so you face it head on,” he said.

Zenata also focused on the social inclusion of people who resided in the area prior to development. The land was inhabited by roughly 40,000 people living in slums. As preparations began for phase one, local inhabitants were relocated to temporary housing in apartments nearby, and as part of the urban master plan, Zenata has designated a portion of land for residents to rebuild. Zenata Marketing Project Officer Sakina Agoumi said job creation and attracting businesses to Zenata was a major part of the development plan.

Agoumi told Devex they considered the local populations in their plans, including in building additional schools and mosques. However, in the future, she expects Moroccans to relocate to Zenata based on the economic opportunities it offers and its proximity to the nearby major cities of Casablanca and Rabat.

This ambitious undertaking was made possible, in part, by the financial support of the European Investment Bank and the Agence Française de Développement, who have financed the first development zone each with 150 million euros.

“As long as the project, in fact, actually follows the plan of modern services which will make it possible to maintain the social equilibrium and to promote social skills through job creation, this project will strengthen the country,” said AFD Morocco President Eric Baulard.

In October 2015, Zenata Eco-City was acknowledged as a model project and awarded an exclusive Eco-City Label by French international HQE certification agency, Cerway, which applauded the project’s ability to minimize its environmental impact throughout its entire lifecycle. The eco-city label now serves as a performance assessment model for comparable urban projects in a similar contexts, nationally and internationally, alike.

According to Naciri, receiving an HQE label, the equivalent to LEED or green building standards, illustrates the feasibility of such large-scale development projects in Africa.

“The fact that Zenata received the recognition of an international significator about the work being done for the first time in the development of a sustainable city, in Morocco, in Africa, is an innovation on it’s own,” Naciri told Devex. “That’s what’s exotic about Zenata, it will show the way for urban projects that are similar to ours in emerging countries, and especially Africa.”

Editor’s note: The Agence Française de Développement facilitated Devex’s travel and logistics for this reporting. However, Devex maintains full editorial control of the content.

Over six weeks, Devex — along with our partners Agence Française de Développement, BearingPoint, UN-Habitat, and XII Metropolis World Congress — will explore what it takes to build a successful smart city, how climate resilient and environmentally friendly infrastructure and technologies are being implemented, and how actors in the global development community are working together toward common goals and engaging local communities in an inclusive way. Join us as we examine what it takes to create our smart cities of the future by tagging #SmartCities and @Devex.

About the author

Christin Roby
@robyreports
Christin Roby is a West Africa correspondent for Devex based in Abidjan, Ivory Coast where she covers global development trends, health, technology and policy-related topics. Before relocating to West Africa, Christin spent several years working in local newsrooms, and earned an MSJ in videography and global affairs reporting from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. Her informed insight into the region stems from her diverse coverage of more than a dozen African nations

World Bank Approves $150m For Morocco

Western Sahara Worldnews - Mon, 03/13/2017 - 08:14

Arab News
AFP

Female farm labourers pick strawberries in the Kenitra province country side of Morocco as the world marks the International Women’s Day, in this March 8, 2017 photo. (AFP)

RABAT: The World Bank (WB) says it has approved $150 million in financing to support small enterprises in Morocco and improve social programs in the North African country.

The funds, approved on Friday, will help the government “modernize its national identification system and provide financing to promote innovative startups and job creation,” a statement said.

According to the WB, almost 5.3 million Moroccans “live under the threat of falling back into poverty due to their socioeconomic conditions.”

Friday’s statement said that $100 million will “aim to develop systems to ensure that social programs are better targeted and reach the most vulnerable Moroccans.”

The remaining $50 million “will help address a market gap in the supply of equity financing for innovative young small and medium enterprises (SMEs),” it said.

US News & World Report Names Morocco among 50 Best Countries

Morocco on the move - Sat, 03/11/2017 - 00:00
Kingdom Shines in Business and Cultural Sub-Categories

Washington, DC, March 10, 2017 (MACP) — For the second year in a row Morocco was ranked among the top 50 best countries by US News & World Report’s Best Countries listing, released earlier this week. Produced in partnership with Y&R’s BAV Consulting group and the Wharton School of Pennsylvania, the listing evaluates 80 countries based on a survey of more than 21,000 respondents worldwide in nine sub-categories: Adventure, Citizenship, Cultural Influence, Entrepreneurship, Heritage, Movers, Open for Business, Power, and Quality of Life.

Ranking at 48th overall, Morocco showed especially strong performances in the Movers sub-category, which identifies “up-and-coming economies,” coming in at 14th; the Heritage sub-category, which identifies those countries “most readily associated with a unique identity,” ranking 16th; and the Adventure sub-category, signaling destinations most likely “to fulfill your wanderlust,” ranking 24th.

Of the remaining nine sub-categories, Morocco also placed in the top 50 in the categories of Open for Business (“market-oriented” countries that are “a haven for capitalists and corporations”), ranking 40th; and Cultural Influence (countries that serve as “cutting-edge centers of art, entertainment and fashion”), ranking 41st.

The report, now in its second year, used other combinations of survey responses to identify additional “Best Of” lists wherein Morocco also figured prominently but that were not accounted for in the overall rankings. Morocco ranked 39th among Best Countries to Travel Alone; 41st in Best Countries for a Comfortable Retirement; 43rd in Most Forward-Looking Countries; and 48th in Most Transparent.

In many categories, Morocco emerged as a leader in Africa and the Middle East. Morocco was number one in the Open for Business and Best Countries for a Comfortable Retirement categories among African and Middle Eastern countries; number one in North Africa for Forward-Looking Countries; and second in Africa in the Movers category.

“Morocco’s overall success and its exemplary performance in business and cultural sub-categories are a testament to the country’s strengths and vision for itself as a diverse, modern, and innovative world leader,” said former US Ambassador to Morocco Edward M. Gabriel.

The US News & World Report findings echo the results of many other industry indices over the years. Earlier this year, Morocco was again named among the 50 most innovative economies in the world and one of just two such economies in Africa by the 2017 Bloomberg Innovation Index. In September last year, the World Bank’s 2017 “Doing Business” report ranked Morocco 68 out of 190 countries in ease of doing business, making it number one in North Africa and fourth overall in the greater Middle East/North Africa region. Meanwhile, Marrakesh, Morocco was named the most popular travel destination in the world by TripAdvisor last year; and the World Tourism Organization’s 2016 Tourism Highlights report cited Morocco as the top tourist destination in Africa.

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 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.

The post US News & World Report Names Morocco among 50 Best Countries appeared first on Morocco On The Move.

Categories: The moroccan press

Exploration Group Sound Energy Closes In On Gas Reservoir In Morocco

Western Sahara Worldnews - Fri, 03/10/2017 - 13:21

Proactive Investors
Ian Lyall

The well will be drilled to a vertical depth of 2,977 metres.

Sound Energy PLC (LON:SOU) said its latest well on the Tendrara licence in Morocco has reached the final casing point.

TE-8’s liner is being cemented at a depth of 2,603 metres and is just two metres from the main reservoir in the TAGI formation. The well will be drilled to a vertical depth of 2,977 metres.

Assuming gas is encountered in the main well bore, a further 30-day side-track will be drilled to prove a potentially deeper gas contact 900 metres to the north-west.

TE-8 is around 12 kilometres from the last successful hole and is what’s called a step out well because it will test the lateral extent of gas that has been discovered in the TAGI reservoir.

Whatever comes in the next two months, the firm has already enjoyed considerable success at Tendrara.

Results from TE-7 were revealed on January 19 with the company telling investors that over a 56 day period of continuous flow the well has yielded just under 1bn cubic feet of gas.

That figure is made all the more impressive given that the gas flow was constrained in test conditions, at a maximum of 40% drawdown, in order to protect the integrity of the well completion to date.

No formation water was produced during testing – as the company had expected – and there were no indications of barriers.

As such Sound said that the result had confirmed a “significant connected volume” of gas is present at Tendrara, and it would now monitor pressure across past wells to confirm the physical connectivity of the reservoir.

The programme on TE-8 is scheduled to last 40-50 days, according to the City research firm Capital Networks.

It is one of a number of value-accretive catalysts expected in 2017, said Capital’s analyst, Lionel Therond.

“We believe the stock provides investors the opportunity to gain exposure to one of the few growth story in the sector, with the potential to benefit from substantial appreciation as assets get de-risked and material resources are added,” he said in a note.

Earlier this week Sound said it had begun drilling the hotly-anticipated Badile well in Italy, adding more spice to the investment story.

Sound’s Italian assets were the foundation stone on which the company was built and it has two producing wells – although their output is modest.

Badile, however, could be a changer. An independent assessment suggests the target could be host to around 178bn standard cubic feet of gas with a net present value of £400mln.

That figure is what’s called a ‘best case’, unrisked estimate. It sits at in the middle of the range with the ‘high case’ forecast being 670bn cubic feet and the ‘low case’ 46bn cubic feet.

Anyway, work on the well, located in the north of the country, around 10 miles from Milan, began on Tuesday (March 7).

The plan is to go down to a total depth of 4,445 metres with drilling and logging expected to take 100 days.

Assuming gas is found, it will take a further 25 days for completion and testing.

Ian Lyall

Morocco Arrests 2 IS-linked Suspects In Casablanca

Western Sahara Worldnews - Fri, 03/10/2017 - 05:10

Xinhuanet
Source: Xinhua

The Moroccan police arrested on Thursday two people with links to the Islamic State (IS) group in the city of Casablanca, the Interior ministry said in a statement.

According to the statement, the suspects planned to carry out terrorist operations in Morocco and had begun to acquire devices used in making explosives.

This operation has allowed the seizure of copper cables, a thermometer, electric batteries, a bottle containing a suspect liquid, a bag of powder and other equipment suspected of being used in manufacturing explosives, the statement pointed out.

The arrested people will be brought to justice once the investigation is completed, it noted.

The north African kingdom has seen a growing threat from terror groups, especially IS.

According to official figures, Morocco busted 19 terrorist cells and arrested 273 suspects in 2016, most of them linked to the group, which control large swaths of Syria and Iraq.

Western Sahara: Who Should Be Watching? Why Not Us? – Robert M. Holley

Morocco on the move - Thu, 03/09/2017 - 20:54

MINURSO Monitors Ceasefire in Western Sahara. Photo: UN

Robert M. Holley
March 9, 2017

Robert M. Holley, Senior Policy Adviser, MACP

Where tensions are running high and opposing armed forces are facing off with one another, separated by only a couple of hundred meters, the risk of an accident with unpredictable and potentially terrible consequences also runs equally high.

Such has been the case for the last several months in Western Sahara, where, until very recently, substantial deployments of the armed forces of Morocco and the Polisario Front nervously eyed one another across only a couple of hundred meters of no man’s land.

Despite many years of the Polisario’s bombastic threats of a return to war, no one seriously believes that Algeria would green-light its Polisario client to pull the trigger on a new war with Morocco.

Nevertheless, when excitable soldiers are facing off with live ammunition in their weapons, the risk of an accident is a dangerous possibility.  And once someone fires that first round, you never really know what happens next. If you doubt that, just review the consequences of that first single shot fired in Sarajevo, Concord or Fort Sumpter to refresh your memory of just how quickly things can get totally out of hand.

Fortunately, after a phone call from King Mohamad VI to the new UN Secretary General, Morocco did the responsible thing and withdrew its forces from the area. The Polisario, however, remains in place, locked and loaded and refusing to budge, despite the repeated urgings of the international community to withdraw its forces and reduce the tensions in this volatile dispute.

This four-decade-old problem has been ripe for resolution since the United States changed its policy in early 1999 and called for a mutually acceptable political solution based on autonomy under Moroccan sovereignty. Most of the international community followed suit, and the UN Security Council has since repeatedly urged a fundamental political compromise. The United States has repeatedly called Morocco’s compromise plan to offer the region a generous autonomy under Moroccan sovereignty serious, credible and realistic. Indeed, in a letter to King Mohamad VI, former President George W. Bush made clear that he viewed Morocco’s initiative as the only viable solution and reiterated longstanding US policy to support such an outcome.

That policy has not changed, despite vigorous efforts to resist its implementation in the bowels of the State Department and from former senior members of the National Security Council during the last four years of the Obama Administration.

Much has changed on the ground in the Moroccan Sahara over the last 15 years to lay the groundwork for granting the local population both a better quality of life and preparation for the autonomy that Morocco has offered under a negotiated political solution. The US Congress has applauded those efforts and, through bipartisan legislation, has obliged a reluctant State Department to provide material assistance to support Morocco’s efforts in the Sahara.

Unfortunately, for reasons that are almost impossibly difficult to credit, or even understand, the State Department continues to refuse permission for the US Ambassador in Morocco to visit the region to see, listen and report on those developments from a personal perspective.  It’s as though the State Department simply doesn’t care to have the personal views of the President’s own personal representative. This makes no sense at all.

The US Ambassador in Algiers has recently visited the Polisario enclaves in southern Algeria and presumably provides her personal views on the local circumstances in her reports back to Washington.  This despite the fact that the United States does not recognize the Polisario’s fictional Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic or its claim to Western Sahara.

Washington should also have the views of its most senior diplomat in Morocco on developments on the other side of the military berm separating Moroccan and Polisario armed forces.

It is absurd that the State Department continues to hide behind some bogus argument that allowing the US Ambassador to visit Moroccan Sahara might signal US recognition of their claim to the territory, when our Ambassador in Algeria meets directly with the senior-most “officials” of a fictive state that we most certainly do not recognize.

Tensions in the region are growing. Military forces from both sides have recently faced off. One side, the Polisario, continues to threaten war and remains deployed for it. The President and senior US policy makers deserve the views and counsel of the US Ambassador in Morocco. It’s time to bring this charade to an end.  Hopefully, new leadership at State will do just that.

The post Western Sahara: Who Should Be Watching? Why Not Us? – Robert M. Holley appeared first on Morocco On The Move.

Categories: The moroccan press

Business Brief: Innovation on the Uptick on Morocco; South African Investor Looking to Add Morocco to Portfolio; Islamic Finance Moves a Step Closer; Tangier Grabs Headlines for Place to do Business and Have Fun – Jean R. AbiNader

Morocco on the move - Thu, 03/09/2017 - 15:28

Jean R. AbiNader, MATIC
March 9, 2017

Jean R. AbiNader, Exec. Dir., Moroccan American Trade and Investment Center

Recent figures released by the government of Morocco show increases across the board in new business start-ups, patent and trademark applications, and other signs of a maturing private sector, while Islamic finance readies final steps for debut later this year. A major US investment fund announced plans to spread its activities in Africa, while the wonders of Tangier were given a thumbs-up by a major business magazine.

Statistics Indicate Morocco Moving Ahead in New Business Development. The Moroccan Office of Industrial and Commercial Property (OMPIC), responsible for foreign and domestic licensing companies, patents, trademarks, and legal registrations, recently provided statistics for 2016..

Moroccan companies continued to grow in all categories. A record 12,800+ trademark applications were submitted, 56% of them from Moroccan companies. This is important to the country’s international business rankings, as it illustrates the growing business capabilities of domestic companies, maturity of relevant regulations, and the impact on the market. For example, Morocco is now ranked 42nd worldwide in the 2016 edition of industrial property indicators.

Another area of growth is renewal of trademarks, which is an indicator of the longevity of local firms. The rate was 30% for 2016. And almost 60% of the industrial designs submitted were Moroccan, which makes Morocco 22nd internationally.

Similar strength was shown in a 21% increase in patents, of which 20% were of Moroccan origin. Having a growing number of patents is one of the most important indicators of local innovation that has staying power rather than relying largely on foreign sources. If Morocco is to continue to expand its manufacturing and services capabilities, a strong intellectual property regime is a must, and these statistics clearly illustrate that Morocco is on the right track – upwards!

Major South African Investor Looking at Morocco. Looks like a firm from the number one investor in Africa is looking to invest in the number two! Alexander Forbes recently announced its interest in looking for acquisitions on the continent, and Morocco is one of its priorities. The company is looking to invest in small existing companies that give them ready-to-go projects and businesses. As a diversified financial services company, Alexander Forbes has a keen interest in companies that are pension fund administrators, as well as smaller financial services companies that serve large corporate entities.

Islamic Finance on Course for 2016 Launch. The central bank of Morocco has approved the use of five types of Islamic banking transactions, according to a story in Arab News, and also a central board of Islamic scholars to oversee the sector. Any category of Islamic transaction must gain preliminary approval from the board.   The five types of transactions are
Murabaha (joint ventures), Musharaka (partnership between investor and agent), Ijara (leasing), Mudaraba (financing acquisitions) and Salam (advanced payments). The central bank also set regulations for conventional banks to open windows selling Islamic products.

The initial regulations establish conditions and frameworks for banks to manage deposits, funds and investments under Shariah principles, which ban interest and pure monetary speculation. Morocco’s government plans to issue its first Islamic bond in the domestic market in the first half of 2017; experts said that would stimulate business in the sector. Still awaiting approval from the Parliament is a bill regulating Islamic insurance.

Tangier – More than a Pretty Face. No longer the refuge of hippies, Beat poets, and European bohemians, Tangier – with the development of TangerMed Port, the revival of the old medina, and tourism promotionhas emerged, particularly with the support of King Mohammed VI, to reclaim its role as an attractive entrepôt bridging two continents and myriad cultures.

Tangier’s renaissance began with reviving its role as an international center for trade. TangerMed Port is now the largest shipping port in Africa, with a capacity to process more than 8 million TEUs a year. It is drawing business from its competitors around the Mediterranean basin, especially Algerciras, which has not been able to keep up with the state-of-the art facilities available across the straits. Despite Algeria’s commitment to build a deep water port, it will be years before it matches the productivity and efficiency that make TangerMed Port attractive to companies.

On the tourism front, Tangier continues to build its visitor base by more than 5% annually, despite the downturn in the region due to security fears emanating from attacks in Tunisia and Algeria. The addition of a high-speed TGV train next year will likely double traffic between Tangier and Casablanca. Continued improvements in infrastructure throughout the north, easy access by ferry to Spain, the draw of the old medina, and the increasingly attractive regional tourism destinations are several of the reasons why some are saying that the northwest of Morocco could rival more traditional tourism spots such as Marrakech and Fez.

Among the star performers in the regional economy, largely based in Tangier, are the automotive and aerospace industries, which, according to the Oxford Business Group (OBG) are accelerating their large-scale development. The signing of an MoU with Boeing to develop an industrial park focused solely on the aeronautics sector should create close to 9000 direct skilled jobs while generating $1B in exports. There are currently 120 companies in the sector.

Like aerospace, the country’s automotive industry has surged in recent years, reaching record export levels for the third straight year in 2016, with the 316,712 units shipped abroad representing a 22.4% year-on-year rise, the OBG underlined.

The post Business Brief: Innovation on the Uptick on Morocco; South African Investor Looking to Add Morocco to Portfolio; Islamic Finance Moves a Step Closer; Tangier Grabs Headlines for Place to do Business and Have Fun – Jean R. AbiNader appeared first on Morocco On The Move.

Categories: The moroccan press

AfDB Approves 2017-2021 Country Strategy Paper for Morocco

The moroccan press - Thu, 03/09/2017 - 13:39

The Board of the African Development Bank (AfDB) Group approved, on Wednesday in Abidjan, the 2017-2021 country strategy paper for Morocco.

This document outlines the program of collaboration between the AfDB and Morocco for the next five years, the AfDB said in a note published on its official portal, underlining that this strategy was designed to accompany the Kingdom in its efforts to create the conditions for the speeding up the structural transformation of its economy and the creation of jobs.

Categories: The moroccan press

134 Projects Launched in 2016 Under New Development Model for Southern Provinces, Interior Minister

The moroccan press - Thu, 03/09/2017 - 12:32

134 projects totaling 39.1 billion dirhams were launched in the year 2016 under the new development model for southern provinces which is worth 77 bln MAD and was kicked off by HM King Mohammed VI on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the Glorious Green March, the interior minister announced on Wednesday in Laayoune.

Categories: The moroccan press

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