The moroccan press
Malawi's withdrawal of its recognition of the SADR constitutes a fruition of the Royal vision oriented towards Africa, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International cooperation, Nasser Bourita, said Friday in Rabat.
"This withdrawal was achieved thanks to the personal involvement of HM the King and a royal vision oriented towards Africa which, during these last months, has known a strong impulse towards austral Africa”, Bourita said at a joint press briefing following a meeting with his Malawian peer, Francis Kasaila.
National regulator ANRT reported that Morocco reached 16.97 million mobile internet users in March, representing an annual growth of 27.5 percent. In the same period, ADSL customers increased by 8.5 percent to reach 1.27 million.
While retaining the highest share of mobile internet users, Maroc Telecom (IAM) saw its dominance eroded with 47.5 percent of the market, down from 49.6 percent in the previous quarter and 50.9 percent a year earlier. Rivals Orange Morocco and Inwi shared the rest of subscriptions, with a market share of 26.8 and 25.7 percent respectively.
Looking at the overall mobile base, the first quarter saw a continuation of the key trends shaping the Moroccan market. Postpaid connections remained on an upward trend, accounting for 7 percent of the country’s 41.78 million mobile subscriptions, while the LTE base continued to increase at a strong pace, rising by 21 percent since December 2016 to reach 3.4 million at the end of March.
by Ehab Farouk
(Corrects book value year in paragraph 4 to 2016, not 2017)
CAIRO May 7 (Reuters) – Morocco’s Attijariwafa Bank paid twice book value to acquire Barclays’ Egyptian business and hopes the acquisition will enable it to increase its market share in Egypt to 5 percent within five years, the Moroccan bank’s CEO said.
The bank plans to rename the unit Attijariwafa Bank Egypt and raise its profile in Egypt, CEO Mohamed El Kettani said.
Britain’s Barclays reached a deal last year to sell its Egyptian banking unit to Attijariwafa Bank, one of Morocco’s largest banks, but the value of the deal, which closed this month, has not been disclosed by either side.
Kettani, speaking to Reuters on Sunday, would not put an exact dollar figure on the acquisition but said it was twice Barclays Egypt’s 2016 book value or about seven times its expected net profit for 2017.
Sources had told Reuters previously that the Barclays Egypt business was valued at around $400 million.
Kettani expects the cost of the deal to be recovered in five to seven years.
Attijariwafa hopes the acquisition will enable it to increase its market share in Egypt to 5 percent within five years, from about 1-1.5 percent currently, and it plans to add new services such as leasing and insurance, said Kettani.
In the next few days the bank will choose an international consulting firm to develop a five-year strategy for its Egypt operations.
“Attijari Bank Egypt will be the group’s entryway to Gulf states and East Africa,” Kettani said.
(Reporting by Ehab Farouk; Writing by Eric Knecht; Editing by Susan Fenton)
The North Africa Post
Morocco’s foreign ministry voiced satisfaction with the support expressed by the US for a political solution to the Sahara issue based on the autonomy proposal under the Kingdom’s sovereignty.
In a statement issued Friday following the adoption by the Congress of the US 2017 appropriation bill, the foreign ministry “welcomed the provisions relating to the Moroccan Sahara in the 2017 appropriations bill.”
The bill, adopted by the Congress and promulgated by the American President Friday, provides for the use of funds allocated to Morocco in all the national territory including the Saharan provinces, underscores the statement.
The statement adds that the provisions on the Sahara and the report accompanying the bill reflect the Congress’s unambiguous support for Morocco’s autonomy initiative. The report also emphasizes that “the Secretary of State should pursue a negotiated settlement of this dispute, in accordance with the United States’ policy supporting a solution based on autonomy under Moroccan sovereignty”.
The Foreign Ministry also welcomed that, within the same bill, the US administration is encouraged “to support investments of the private sector in the Western Sahara”.
The same bill hints at the corruption and embezzlement by the Polisario and its mentor Algeria of humanitarian aid sent to Tindouf camps by stressing the need for more control of the aid sent to the refugees across North Africa.
To avoid a government shutdown, the White House and top lawmakers endorsed a $1.1 trillion spending bill after Republicans dropped numerous demands on the environment, Obama-era financial regulations and abortion in marathon sessions.
The bill includes $53.1 billion for foreign aid and State Department diplomacy, a $400 million increase that runs counter to the administration’s vow to slash foreign assistance.
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The News Nigeria
By Rasheed Akinkuolie
The Western Sahara or Saharoui, Spanish Sahara, Moroccan Sahara, SADR were different names at different times given to this highly disputed territory in West Africa. The controversy of sovereignty over Western Sahara is still ongoing, whereas, it ought to have ended with Spanish de-colonization and departure in 1976.
A new dispute emerged soon after which pitched the Alaouite Kingdom of Moroco against the Polisario Liberation Front (PLF) backed by Algeria over sovereignty over the Western Sahara. The latter had declared the territory a sovereign Saharaoui Arab Democratic Republic (SADR). Morocco had on the other hand granted autonomy to Saharaoui or Western Sahara as a province within the kingdom based on the fact that it had for over a century contested sovereignty over the territory with Spain long before the formation of the PLF in 1973.
Western Sahara has a land mass of about 250,000 square kilometers, which is about the land mass of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and a quarter the size of Nigeria. The sparse population of about 500,000 people live mainly in Al Fayoun , the capital and other coastal settlements along the Atlantic Coast. The coastal waters teem with marine resources (fruits de la mer) proven deposits of phosphate in the hinterland and most likely oil deposits in the desert. The rest of the country is desert wilderness inhabited by Berber or Amazigh tribes, who have, for centuries like their ancestors, traversed the Sahara Desert in caravans to distant lands in The Middle East and Africa.
The Maghreb countries along the Mediterranean Sea have had chequered history of occupation and colonization which started with the Roman Empire of antiquity and much later from the 18th century by Italian, French, Spanish and Portugese colonial empires.
France annexed Algeria and placed Morocco under its protectorate. Italy annexed Libya, Spain annexed Western Sahara. The colonization of these territories had consistently been resisted by the indigenous Berber tribes led by Morocco.
The first conflict between Spain and Morocco over Western Sahara was the Tetuan War of 1859-60, followed by the Mellila war of 1893-1894, the Rif war of 1909-1927 and the Ifni war of 1957-58 after which Morocco and Spain signed the treaty of Angra de Citra. Spain retained Western Sahara and Sidi Ifni, while the region of Tarfaya was returned to Morocco.
The persistent pressures on Spain to relinquish control over the Western Sahara continued and it was after Morocco threatened to regain the territory by force of arms, that Spain signed the treaty of Madrid with Morocco and Mauritania and left the territory in 1976.
Morocco immediately took over Western Sahara, an action which technically was within the context of the Angra de Citra treaty of 1958, which withheld Western Sahara from Morocco. Spain had continued to occupy Ceuta and Mellila in North Eastern Morocco.
The coalition forces which confronted Spain during the Ifni war of 1958 included Berber tribes in Western Sahara and other interest groups. The agitations for decolonization thereafter was joined by The Polisario Liberation Front (PLF) which was formed in 1973 by Mustafa Sayed and The Saharaoui National Union Party (SNUP) founded in 1974 by Khalelina Ould Errachid with the objective of ousting Spain out of Western Sahara.
When Spain finally left the territory in 1976, the PLF declared Western Sahara as an independent Saharaoui Arab Democratuc Republic (SADR). SNUP on the other hand aligned with Morocco to govern Western Sahara as an autonomous province of Morocco.
In 2006, as a compromise, the king of Morocco created the Royal Advisory Council for Saharaoui Affairs (CORCAS) to run the administration of Saharaoui as an autonomous province. Khalelina Ould Errachid was appointed to head the council and the father of the late SADR President, Mohammed Abdelazeez was a member.
The presence of these important Saharaoui tribal leaders in CORCAS shows that the PLF did not enjoy critical and total support in Saharaoui. The international community is now faced with two divergent positions on the status of Saharaoui, to go autonomy or be granted independence. The fact that PLF opted for independence after the departure of Spain from the territory in 1976, a few years after the organization was formed in 1973 is a food for thought , whereas the conflicts to free the territory from Spanish occupation started over a century earlier.
The ambitious and separatist tendencies of the PLF and divergent opinions in Saharaoui would eventually lead to fresh conflicts which will destabilize the region with each faction drawing external supports. The example of South Sudan is still on going without an end in sight.
The referendum option which had been suggested is already time bad, too late and complicated to implement because of the influx of people and the mixed population. It will be almost impossible to determine the eligibility of voters 40 years after the departure of Spain. The result of the referendum is likely to be rejected by the party that lost under the pretext that it was rigged.
The situation on the ground is almost cast in iron and the way out is to find the most appropriate solution which will serve the best interest of the Saharaoui people who are pawns in the power game of supremacy between Morocco, PLF and Algeria. The conflict over Saharaoui is in essence a proxy war of supremacy between Morocco and Algeria. The two countries have fought two bloody wars over the territory and the resolution of the unhealthy rivalry between them would be a giant step in the eventual resolution of the larger Saharaoui crisis. This should be done under the auspices of the African Union with emphasis on economic cooperation before the more contentious political issues are broached.
The desire of Algeria to have access to the Atlantic Ocean in its southern borders can easily be achieved through bilateral discussions with Morocco which has access to the Atlantic within its territory and Saharaoui. The de facto situation in Saharaoui territory must be acknowledged and the best option is to work within the context of the letter and spirit of CORCAS’s constitution. The autonomy policy must be credible and transparent with a plan of action which will place emphasis on education, medical services, industrialization and agriculture. The rapid development of Saharaoui with job opportunities will reduce agitations for independence and attract refugees from the camps in Tindouf.
Ambassador Akinkuolie Rasheed was the Director of Trade and Investment in Nigeria’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Washington, DC, May 5, 2017, Moroccan American Center for Policy (MACP) — The FY 2017 Appropriations Bill passed by Congress and signed Friday by President Trump requires that “funds appropriated under title III of this Act” for Morocco “shall be made available for assistance for the Western Sahara,” thereby reinforcing longstanding US policy to support a negotiated solution to the dispute over the region based on autonomy under Moroccan sovereignty.
As was the case last year, the final report accompanying the bill noted this policy and gave further clarification to the provision of the law:
[The Morocco subsection] is similar to language in prior years requiring that funds made available for assistance for Morocco shall also be made available for any region or territory administered by Morocco, including the Western Sahara. The Committee recommendation includes not less than the request for Morocco in title III of this Act and makes funds available for assistance for any region or territory administered by Morocco, including the Western Sahara. The Committee expects funds to support democratic reforms and economic development. The Committee remains concerned by the failure to resolve the longstanding dispute over the Western Sahara and the protracted refugee situation in the Polisario-run camps near Tindouf, Algeria. The Committee believes that the Secretary of State should pursue a negotiated settlement to the dispute, consistent with United States policy to support a solution to the issue based on a formula of autonomy under Moroccan sovereignty. These redoubled diplomatic efforts can lead to a realistic and lasting settlement, the completion of a UN Peacekeeping mission that has existed for more than twenty years, and a more stable region. The Committee also encourages the Administration to support private sector investment in the Western Sahara. The Committee recommendation includes a requirement to consult with the Committees on Appropriations on all of these issues not later than 45 days after enactment of this Act.
The past three US administrations – Clinton, Bush, and Obama – and strong bipartisan majorities in Congress have supported autonomy under Moroccan sovereignty for Western Sahara. In a Joint Statement after King Mohammed VI’s 2013 visit to Washington DC, the King and President Obama pledged a “shared commitment to the improvement of the lives of the people of the Western Sahara,” and over the past several decades, Morocco has invested billions of dollars in economic and social development in the area.
The 2017 bill also calls for the Secretary of State to consult with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the Executive Director of the World Food Programme and, within 45 days, “submit a report to the Committees on Appropriations describing steps taken to strengthen monitoring of the delivery of humanitarian assistance provided for refugees in North Africa, including any steps taken to ensure that all vulnerable refugees are receiving such assistance.”
Tens of thousands of Sahrawi refugees are currently living in abject conditions in Polisario-run refugee camps in southwestern Algeria. Though the UN and other organizations have repeatedly called on Algeria and the Polisario to conduct a refugee registration in the camps to better ensure accountability and delivery of humanitarian aid, Algeria and the Polisario have refused, and in 2014 Agence France-Presse revealed that the European Union’s Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) had documented “well-organized, years-long” embezzlement by the Polisario of humanitarian aid designated for Sahrawi refugees. On April 28, the UN Security Council voted to renew for another year the UN peacekeeping mission in Western Sahara (MINURSO), again “reiterating its request for consideration of a refugee registration in the Tindouf refugee camps and emphasizing efforts be made in this regard.”
“The 2017 Appropriations Bill unequivocally enforces longstanding US policy on the Western Sahara issue, and helps to ensure that the humanitarian aid we provide benefits the people living in the camps rather than lines the pockets of the Polisario leadership,” said Executive Director of the Moroccan American Center for Policy Jordan Paul. “But as importantly, it supports Morocco—our oldest ally, and sets the stage for finally reaching resolution on a conflict that has gone on for far too long.”
###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 Latest Appropriations Bill Continues US Support for Morocco’s Autonomy Plan for Western Sahara appeared first on Morocco On The Move.
Natural Resources of Moroccan Sahara Are Exploited in Line of International Law, National Sovereignty
The natural resources of the Moroccan Sahara are exploited in line of international law and national sovereignty, Minister Delegate in charge of Relations with Parliament and Civil Society, Government Spokesman, Mustapha El Khalfi, said Thursday in Rabat.
Speaking at the opening of the fifth edition of HUB Africa, the Gabonese minister expressed his wish to see this cooperation model include all African countries.
Chairman of the COP22 Salaheddine Mezouar called, on Thursday in Casablanca, for pooling efforts by all private, public and civil society stakeholders in favour of climate protection.
Mezouar, who was speaking at a panel on "COP22: Hub Africa Plays Extra Time" under the opening session of the 5th HUB AFRICA fair, said that the COP22 was a milestone in the fight against climate change.
The Moroccan experience in the field of information and communication technology (ICT) was showcased, on Wednesday in Niamey (Niger), as part of the parliamentary forum of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
A statement by the house of representatives said that the house deputy speaker Mohamed Ouzzine surveyed ICT developments in Morocco, underlining the ongoing increase in the number of internet users, the development of mobile telephony services and strategies adopted by Morocco in terms of digital mutation and society of knowledge.
Morocco’s leading Attijariwafa Bank has completed acquisition of the Egyptian branch of Barclays, the bank announced in a statement on Thursday.
Attijariwafa Bank has obtained all regulatory requirements to acquire 100 percent of Barclays Egypt capital after an agreement was signed by the two banks in October last year, the statement said.
This strategic operation will enable the bank to reinforce its presence in the Middle East and North Africa region, the statement underlined, adding that it will strengthen cooperation between Egypt and Morocco as well as among the countries where the bank exists.
Attijariwafa Bank operates in more than 20 countries including Tunisia, Cote d’Ivoire, Senegal and Gabon. Enditem
Morocco’s government has approved 51 investments projects worth 6.7 billion U.S. dollars, the prime minister office said in a statement late on Thursday.
The projects will create 6,477 direct jobs, the statement said following a meeting of the Inter-ministerial Investment Commission under the chairmanship of Moroccan Prime Minister Saadeddine El Othmani.
The breakdown of investments by sector shows a strong predominance of the energy sector with 4.3 billion dollars, representing nearly two thirds of the total investments submitted to the committee, which are expected to create some 4,803 jobs.
Tourism and leisure activities hold the second position with nearly 13 percent of the planned investments, while transport sector ranks third with 8 percent of said investments.
As for financing, 90 percent of the investments projects are funded by Moroccan investors, and the rest is by partnership between local and international partners.
An artist’s impression of the Chenanisaurus barbaricus
Scientists have discovered one of the last dinosaurs living in Africa before they became extinct 66 million years ago.
The Chenanisaurus barbaricus is extremely rare and is a smaller African contemporary of the North American T rex.
A rare fragment of a jaw bone was studied by Dr Nick Longrich at the University of Bath after it was found in a phosphate mine at Sidi Chennane in the Oulad Abdoun Basin, Morocco.
Dr Longrich, in collaboration with colleagues in Morocco, France and Spain, identified it as belonging to an abelisaur – which was a two-legged predator like T rex and other tyrannosaurs, but had a shorter, blunter snout and even smaller arms.
The tyrannosaurs dominated in North America and Asia, but the abelisaurs were the top predators at the end of the Cretaceous period in Africa, South America, India and Europe.
Dr Longrich told Sky News: “This find was unusual because it’s a dinosaur from marine rocks – it’s a bit like hunting for fossil whales and finding a fossil lion.
“It’s an incredibly rare find – almost like winning the lottery. But the phosphate mines are so rich, it’s like buying a million lottery tickets, so we actually have a chance to find rare dinosaurs like this one.
“We have virtually no dinosaur fossils from this time period in Morocco – it may even be the first dinosaur named from the end-Cretaceous in Africa.
“It’s also one of the last dinosaurs in Africa before the mass extinction that wiped out the dinosaurs.
“It’s an exciting find because it shows just how different the fauna was in the southern hemisphere at this time.”
The newly-discovered dinosaur stood on two legs and had stumpy arms, say scientists.
Dr Longrich said: “Abelisaurs had very short arms. The upper arm bone is short, the lower arm is shorter and they have tiny little hands.”
Scientists say the teeth from the fossil were worn as if from biting into bone, suggesting that, like T rex, Chenanisaurus was a predator.
Dr Longrich added: “The odd thing is it’s a terrestrial animal found in marine rocks. It was possibly drowned and washed out to sea and was floating in the ocean.”
Colombian Senate Reiterates Full Support for Morocco's Efforts Aimed at Reaching Solution to Sahara Issue on the basis of Moroccan Autonomy Plan
Colombian Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee reiterated its full support for Morocco's efforts aimed at reaching a solution to the Sahara issue on the basis of the Moroccan autonomy plan.
This announcement was made following the adoption by this Committee at a regular meeting held on Tuesday of a resolution reiterating the full support of the Colombian Senate for the efforts made by the Kingdom of Morocco since 2007 to reach a fair, political, final and consensual solution to the Sahara issue, on the basis of the Moroccan autonomy plan.
Morocco is determined to further strengthen its relations of friendship with China, speaker of the House of Advisors (upper house), Hakim Benchamach, said here on Tuesday during talks with Chinese ambassador to Morocco, Sun Shuzhong, at the end of his diplomatic mission in the Kingdom.
In this regard, Benchamach stressed the importance of the historic visit of HM King Mohammed VI to China in May 2016 and highlighted the promising prospects for a comprehensive strategic partnership between the two countries, the House of Advisors said in a statement.
Head of government, Saad Eddine El Othmani, held talks, Tuesday in Rabat, with Japanese vice-minister for Foreign Affairs, Shunsuke Takei, who is on a working visit to Morocco.
The number of tourists who have visited Morocco during the first quarter of 2017 stood at 2.1 millions, increasing by 7.9% year on year, according to the Tourism Observatory.
The number of foreign tourists grew by 11.7%, while arrivals of Moroccan expatriates increased by 2.7%, said the Tourism Observatory in its Moroccan tourism statistics over January-March 2017.
This rise involved the main tourism markets, namely Germany and France (+ 6%), the United Kingdom and the Netherlands (5%), Spain (4%) and Belgium (+ 3%) , it added.
Morocco posted a major reduction in the maternal mortality rate of 35% compared to 2010, said, on Wednesday in Rabat, health minister Houcine El Ouardi.
A survey including 121,725 households in 12 regions (urban and rural zones) showed an important reduction in the ratio of maternal mortality in Morocco, which dropped to 72.6 mother deaths for 100,000 live births, versus 112 in 2010, that is a reduction of 35%, said El Ouardi at a press conference with national media outlets.
Morocco is on the path of building a development model that makes the promotion of the human capital and capacity-building its main pillar, said, on Wednesday in Rabat, head of government Saâd Eddine El Othmani.
Morocco is a "privileged", "strategic” and “distinguished” partner of Spain, Spanish Foreign Minister Alfonso Dastis said on Wednesday.
Speaking at a press briefing following a meeting with Morocco's Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita, Dastis hailed the excellent bilateral relations, noting that Morocco and Spain share common interests and are motivated by the desire to maintain the “privileged” nature of their ties.