The moroccan press
Business Brief: Morocco Nears Major Human Development Goal; Builds Stronger Ties with UAE, Côte d’Ivoire, and Ethiopia; Enjoys Better Tourism Numbers; and Sees Launch of Solar-Powered Cooking Project, among Other News – Jean R. AbiNader
Morocco’s investments in providing drinking water to all its citizens are paying dividends. Several African and Arab countries are highlighting their ties to Morocco, while tourism opens opportunities in the real estate sector. Several Islamic banking instruments have come on line in the financial sector, and several companies up their presence in the Kingdom.
Drinking water for all. The latest report from Charafat Afilal, the Secretary of State in charge of Water, says that access to drinking water in rural areas will reach 96.5% by the end of this year, reflecting the success of the more than $100,000 spent annually on development projects, including developing potable water from reservoirs created by dams, the installation of regional drainage canals, better management of surface water resources, deepening wells, and public education campaigns on water use. The goal is to end the existing water deficit by 2019.
Islamic finance debuts. This past week, “halal” credits and accounts became available through banks in Morocco following approval of Parliament and under the guidance of the Higher Council of Ulemas. Five Moroccan banks are authorized to open accounts according to Islamic finance principles. This will soon be followed by the availability of real estate and automobile financing. Further ahead are insurance products and Islamic financing bonds, sukuk, to support financing these and other products. According to the Council’s decree, “This ‘participatory’ finance [in which risk is shared by the parties to the transaction] prohibits investments in sectors considered illicit: alcohol, sports betting, tobacco, and pornography, as well as the practice of interest and speculation.” Standard & Poor’s believes that Islamic Finance could come to represent between 10 and 20% of the Moroccan banking system.
Where tourism goes, hospitality and real estate follow! The rise in 4Q tourism results has greatly improved the sector’s 2017 performance. The upcoming conference of Hotelier Summit Africa (North) “Will serve as an important event for real estate and hospitality professionals looking to build and operate new hotels across the country,” according to the organizers. They also point to “an overall international trust in the Morocco as a holiday destination” that has led to several new facilities being launched in the country, with expectations for even greater growth. Their press announcement noted that “The tourism sector in Morocco experienced significant growth at the beginning of this year. According to the data from Moroccan Ministry of Tourism, the number of visitors that entered the country in February went up 10.6 per cent with overnight stays in hotels increasing to 18.8 per cent.”
Friends in deed. Morocco’s commitment to its African policy is underscored with an investment of more than $350 million in various projects in the Côte d’Ivoire. This announcement was made by Mounia Boucetta, the Moroccan Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, at the meeting of a bilateral trade council in Abidjan. “Côte d’Ivoire and Morocco have about 100 bilateral agreements, several of which relate to physical projects in progress, particularly those of housing.”
Ethiopia lauds cooperation with Morocco as it moves ahead with bilateral trade and investment opportunities following Morocco’s admission to the African Union. The two countries have 12 current agreements across numerous sectors, including education and human resources, renewable energy, environmental cooperation, health, agriculture, and infrastructure. One of the largest projects is a fertilizer production unit in Ethiopia to develop products especially suited for Ethiopian agriculture. The first phase will require $2.5 billion, with a total cost of $3.7 billion.
The UAE’s Abu Dhabi Fund for Development has provided the Kingdom with grants and concessionary loans worth $2.45 billion in support of 76 development projects, including transportation infrastructure, water and agriculture, education, and healthcare. The Fund also has equity in several Morocco-based companies, active in the telecommunications, real estate, agriculture and livestock, tourism, and industry sectors.
Speaking of the Emirates, the World Economic Forum’s Digital Evolution Index placed Morocco as #1 in digital economy in North Africa, following the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan among all Arab countries. The Index is a holistic, data-driven evaluation that tracks the progress of the digital economy across 60 countries, taking into account more than 100 different indicators across four key drivers: Supply Conditions, Demand Conditions, Institutional Environment, and Innovation and Change. It reflects the state and rate of digital evolution, while also identifying avenues for investment, innovation, and policy priorities.
2017 exports up. YonY comparison shows that Moroccan exports increased from $12 billion in the first six months of 2016 to $13.3 billion in the first six months of 2017. By sectors, this 11.2% increase breaks down into phosphates and derivatives (+8.9%), agriculture and agri-food (+8.3%), pharmaceuticals (+7.5%), electronics (+7.1%), automotive (2.9%), and textiles and leather (+1.6%). In related news, Automotive News noted that if Morocco adds, as expected, two other major car manufacturers by 2025, it will reach its goal of a 1 million car production capability. According to the story, “Morocco is encouraging its next vehicle manufacturer to produce a platform that allows it to manufacture both electrified vehicles and conventional models.”
Finally, lights, camera, action! And in a long-awaited move, Morocco has finally announced a draft decree establishing a subsidy for foreign film productions shot in Morocco, with the aim of tripling their number. This tax measure will allow production companies to recover 20% of their expenses incurred during the shooting of a film or a series in Morocco.
It’s not just power projects any more. Morocco, according to HuffPost Maroc, is working with Greenpeace to teach people to cook using solar energy. A small group of volunteers, committed to introducing environmentally friendly small-scale technologies, is training Moroccans in rural areas and small communities in solar cooking as part of the Do It Yourself program, DIY Solar Cooking.
The post Business Brief: Morocco Nears Major Human Development Goal; Builds Stronger Ties with UAE, Côte d’Ivoire, and Ethiopia; Enjoys Better Tourism Numbers; and Sees Launch of Solar-Powered Cooking Project, among Other News – Jean R. AbiNader appeared first on Morocco On The Move.
US News & World Reports
by Raquel Castillo
Around 70 sub-Saharan African migrants crossed the razor-wire-topped fence separating northern Morocco from the Spanish enclave of Ceuta on Tuesday, leaving 14 people hospitalised, the Red Cross said.
Local police said 200 people rushed the border in a bid to reach Europe. Around 60 managed to enter the territory and were attended by the Red Cross.
Migrants frequently jump or cut through the fences of Spain’s two enclaves in northern Africa, Ceuta and Melilla, or attempt to reach them by swimming along the Moroccan coastlines.
The number of migrants entering Spain via Ceuta and Melilla more than doubled in the first six months of the year from the same period last year to 3,200 people, according to Spain’s Interior Ministry.
Once within the enclaves, migrants are either returned to their country of origin or moved to the Spanish mainland, which many use as a jumping-off point for the rest of Europe.
The migrants used wire cutters to breach a gate, according to a spokesman from the Ceuta government. Between 1,000 and 1,500 people are camping out in the scrub and woods around the enclave waiting for the opportunity to rush the border, he said.
The last major push in to one of the enclaves was in May when some 300 migrants attempted to jump the fence in Melilla. Around 100 successfully crossed the border.
(Corrects to show 70 people crossed border, not injured)
(Reporting by Raquel Castillo; Writing by Paul Day; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)
It comes after the group agreed a deal to acquire exploration acreage in the vicinity of the Tendrara field, in eastern Morocco.
Further approvals are expected in the coming weeks.
Sound Energy PLC (LON:SOU) told investors that it has had the award of a new Morocco project rubber stamped by the authorities.
In a stock market statement the gas explorer said that it has received formal final approval for the Matarka licence.
It comes after the group agreed a deal to acquire exploration acreage in the vicinity of the Tendrara field, in eastern Morocco, from Oil & Gas Investment Fund (OGIF) and as those assets are being restructured into new licence areas.
The company also noted that it now expects to receive remaining approvals for the Anoual and Tendrara areas in the third quarter.
Tourist arrivals to Morocco increased 9 percent in the first half of 2017 compared to a year earlier, financial daily L’Economiste reported on Wednesday.
This strong performance results from a significant increase in the traditional European market, L’Economiste said, citing statistics from the Moroccan Ministry of Tourism.
Tourists from the United States grew 27 percent, followed by Germany (12 percent), the Netherlands (8 percent), Spain (7 percent) and France (5 percent), it reported.
The increase was also driven by the surge in the emerging tourist markets, especially China and Japan. Chinese arrivals jumped 565 percent, while Japanese visitors rose 46 percent.
A total of 10.3 million tourists visited Morocco in 2016, up 1.5 percent from 2015. Morocco expects tourist arrivals to grow 6 percent in 2017.
Tourism is one of the main economic drivers in Morocco as it employs more than 500,000 people, nearly five percent of the country’s total jobs, and represents 6.7 percent of Morocco’s national economy.
With a rich history, cultural heritage and breath-taking seascape –Morocco has everything for the exotic traveller.
Planning an international trip that is far from the usual? These Maghrebi cities can certainly be the reason to plan your next trip. With a rich history, cultural heritage and breath-taking seascape –Morocco has everything for the exotic traveller.
Located on the Maghreb coast at the western entrance to the Strait of Gibraltar, where the Mediterranean Sea meets the Atlantic Ocean off Cape Spartel, Tangier can be a wonderful vacation spot for solo travellers, families and couples.
This picturesque town with a rich history has a lot to offer visitors. The tomb of Ibn Battuta, the serene beaches, Grand Socco, and the Tangier Museum are a few interesting places that are a must visit.
Fes, which was the capital city of Morocco till 1925 is a World Heritage Site.
A visit to the Royal Palace (Dar el Makhzen), Old Medina (UNESCO World Heritage Centre), Zaouia Moulay Idriss II, Zallige Artisans Factory, Tanners’ Quarter and the University of Al Quaraouiyine (founded in 859) is bound to take you back in time.
Rabat, the capital city of Morocco, is located along the Atlantic Ocean.
Places like the D’r-al-Makhzen (the main royal residence), the Old Medina, Kasbah of the Udayas, Hassan Tower and Mausoleum of Mohammed V should be on your must visit list.
You must have known the city through Graham Nash’s famous Marrakesh Express song. True to the spirit, Marrakech is a party lover’s delight. The city has the largest souk (traditional market) in Morocco.
A visit to this city is incomplete without going to Jemaa el-Fnaa, Gueliz, Majorelle Garden, Bahia Palace and the El Badi Palace.
Hollywood classic Casablanca must have created a strong desire among many movie buffs to visit this beautiful city.
While you are there, go marvel at the Hassan II Mosque – the largest in Africa, and the third-largest in the world.
Other places to visit are the Old and New Medinas of Casablanca, and the Morocco Mall. Don’t forget to pamper yourself with a good Moroccan hammam.
The Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) reaffirmed, on Tuesday in Washington, Morocco’s "continued qualification" for the Precautionary and Liquidity Line (PLL).
“On August 1, 2017, the Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) completed the second review under the Precautionary and Liquidity Line (PLL) Arrangement and reaffirmed Morocco’s continued qualification for the PLL,” said, in a statement, First Deputy Managing Director and Acting Chair, David Lipton.
Hellenic Shipping News
in International Shipping News
CMA CGM, a world leader in maritime transport, is launching the Black Sea Med Express service, which connects the major countries around the Black Sea (Turkey, Romania and Ukraine) to Algeria and Morocco.
The CMA CGM Group is innovating and growing in the Mediterranean by launching Black Sea Med Express, created specifically to respond to the increase in trade between the Black Sea countries, Turkey, Algeria and Morocco.
It is the first service of CMA CGM to offer a weekly connection between the main ports of the Black and Aegean seas with the North of Morocco (Tangier and Casablanca) and Algeria (Annaba) in order to develop the activity between The Mediterranean Sea and the Black Sea with short lines.
A global service offering multiple service possibilities to the countries of Southern Eastern Europe and transshipment to world markets.
CMA CGM offers some of the best transit times between: Constanta is connected to Casablanca (Morocco) in 16 days, Ambarli (Turkey) to Annaba (Algeria) in 6 days, Malta to Odessa (Ukraine) in 4 days and Izmir (Turkey) to Malta in 2 days.
The proposed stopover in Malta, the CMA CGM hub, affects all of the world’s markets and offers multiple opportunities for transshipment and intermodal transport thanks to efficient connections with other Group services.
The Black Sea Med Express service will begin on 21 August in Malta with a fleet of four vessels with a capacity of 1,700 TEU, which will operate in Casablanca, Tangier, Malta, Odessa, Constanta, Ambarli, Izmir, Malta and Annaba.
The implementation of the Black Sea Med Express service is directly in line with the CMA CGM Group’s strategy for the development of short lines in the Mediterranean and Black Sea.
Source: CMA CGM
HM the King's Decision to Pardon Detainees of Al Hoceima's Events Signals Moving Toward Serenity, French Senator
The decision of HM King Mohammed VI to grant his pardon, on Throne Day, to a group of detainees who did not commit crimes or serious offences during Al Hoceima events, is a crucial signal of moving toward serenity, affirmed chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee at the French Senate, Christian Cambon.
The Executive Committee of the Foreign Ministers of the Organization for Islamic Cooperation (OIC) praised, on Tuesday in Istanbul, the efforts of HM King Mohammed VI to defend the holy city of Al-Quds.
IMF Executive Board Concludes The Second Review Under The Precautionary And Liquidity Line Arrangement For Morocco
The Moroccan authorities have not drawn on the arrangement and continue to treat it as precautionary.
The new government’s economic program is in line with key reforms agreed under the IMF arrangement, such as reducing fiscal and external vulnerabilities while strengthening the foundations for higher and more inclusive growth.
On August 1, 2017, the Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) completed the second review under the Precautionary and Liquidity Line (PLL) Arrangement and reaffirmed Morocco’s continued qualification for the PLL.
The two-year PLL arrangement for Morocco in the amount of SDR 2.504 billion (about US$3.42 billion) was approved by the IMF’s Executive Board in July 2016 (see Press Release No. 16/355) and the first review of the arrangement was completed on May 15, 2017 (see Press Release No. 17/169).
The Moroccan authorities have not drawn on the arrangement and continue to treat it as precautionary. The arrangement will expire on July 21, 2018.
Following the Executive Board’s discussion, Mr. David Lipton, First Deputy Managing Director and Acting Chair, said:
“Morocco’s sound economic fundamentals and overall strong track record of policy implementation have contributed to a solid macroeconomic performance in recent years. External imbalances are projected to narrow in 2017 and international reserves to remain at a comfortable level. Fiscal developments are positive, with the budget deficit projected to narrow further in 2017 due to strong revenue performance and contained spending. Growth is expected to rebound in 2017 and accelerate gradually over the medium term, subject to improved external conditions and steadfast reform implementation. But this outlook remains subject to domestic and external downside risks.
In this context, Morocco’s Precautionary and Liquidity Line (PLL) arrangement with the Fund continues to serve as useful insurance against external risks and supports the authorities’ economic policies.
“The authorities are committed to sustaining sound policies. The new government’s economic program is in line with key reforms agreed under the PLL arrangement, such as reducing fiscal and external vulnerabilities while strengthening the foundations for higher and more inclusive growth.
“Building on progress made in recent years, further fiscal consolidation is needed and should be based on accelerated tax reforms, sound public financial management at the local level as part of fiscal decentralization, comprehensive civil service reform, enhanced financial oversight of state owned enterprises, and increased efficiency of social programs and public investment projects.
“Adopting the central bank law and continuing to implement the 2015 Financial Sector Assessment Program recommendations will help strengthen the financial sector policy framework. Moving toward a more flexible exchange rate regime, underpinned by a well communicated strategy, will help preserve external competitiveness and enhance the economy’s capacity to absorb shocks.
“Finally, raising potential growth and making growth more inclusive, by reducing persistently high unemployment levels, especially among the youth, and increasing female labor participation, will require further measures to improve the business climate, governance, competitiveness, access to finance, the labor market, and regional disparities.”
Kate Baaba Hudson
The return of the Royal Kingdom of Morocco to its institutional family, the African Union (AU), and the country’s admission to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) are the results of Morocco’s constantly renewed concerns to work hand in hand with the continent’s countries to develop and preserve its dignity and ensure its prosperity.
This return is not an end in itself, as it aims at bringing substantial added value to the African continent, through the action of its multilateral institutions and bilateral relations initiated with a large number of countries.
The Moroccan Ambassador to Ghana, Mr Hamid Chabar, disclosed these in his address at a reception to mark the 18th anniversary of the ascension to the throne by His Majesty King Mohamed VI at the Movenpick Hotel in Accra last Sunday.
He said Africa occupied a central place in the foreign policy of the Kingdom of Morocco and recalled that since his accession to the throne in July 1999, “the King of the Kingdom of Morocco has paid 52 visits to the countries of sub-Saharan Africa, and 26 of these visits targeted West African countries.”
King Mohammed VI
In the past nine months, he said King Mohamed VI had for the first time visited eight countries in Eastern Africa, Southern Africa, as well as in West Africa; including Ethiopia, Tanzania, Rwanda, South Sudan, Madagascar, Zambia, Nigeria and Ghana.
“These various visits have enabled the launch of many concrete cooperation projects in various fields such as training, food security and infrastructural development,” he noted.
The Ambassador said the Moroccan diplomatic network in Africa had currently been increased to 30 embassies covering all countries of the continent.
Mr Chabar emphasized that as President of the 22nd Conference of the Parties (COP 22) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), held in Marrakech in November 2016, Morocco ensured an African summit on the impact of climate change on the continent. The summit brought together 30 African heads of state and governments.
Similarly, as co-Chair of the Global Forum for Migration and Development, he said Morocco placed Africa among its priorities regarding the issues of migration.
“Morocco has successfully initiated and led a courageous and innovative policy in the management of migration flows, which has led to the regularisation of the situation of more than 30,000 illegal migrants mainly from the continent. In its capacity as co-Chair of the Global Forum on the Fight against Terrorism, Morocco continues to draw attention on the importance of anticipating the evolution of terrorist threat on the African continent,” he added.
He said Morocco’s expertise in this field had been recognised today by all and consisted not only of sharing and exchanging information, but also in training and the provision of appropriate logistic means for the countries involved, adding that the country also contributes to the United Nations peacekeeping operations by sending military contingents to different areas on the continent.
Second largest African investor
Ambassador Chabar announced that “Morocco is the second largest African investor on the continent and the first largest investor of the ECOWAS region.”
Concretely, he said 63 per cent of Moroccan foreign investments were directed towards the continent, while the Moroccan private sector was very active in more than 25 countries.
He mentioned the Moroccan economic action in Africa, which combined regional structured projects with small ones, saying they have a strong socio-economic impact and citing the Atlantic pipeline project to connect Nigeria with Morocco which will cross 11 West African countries and the construction of large fertiliser plants in some countries of the continent to serve as green growth drivers in their respective sub-regions to contribute to food security on the continent.
The ambassador announced that a new Moroccan shipping line had recently been launched and it will be linking Morocco to all West African ports.
Mr Chabar noted that “2017 is, undoubtedly, an important step in the process of consolidating relations between Morocco and Ghana.”
He commended Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo for his full commitment towards enhancing bilateral ties.
Responding to the speech by Ambassador Chabar, the Minister of Monitoring and Evaluation, Dr Anthony Akoto Osei, expressed appreciation to the Kingdom of Morocco for regularising the stay of Ghanaian migrants living illegally in Morocco and increasing the number of student scholarships granted to Ghanaians from 45 to 70.
He was confident that the readmission of Morocco to the AU would add value to the continent.
Dr Osei said the relations between Ghana and Morocco dated back to the liberation struggle in Africa, when the founding fathers of the two countries teamed up in the fight against colonial rule.
“Our bilateral relations reached a significant milestone in February 2017 with the State Visit of His Majesty King Mohamed VI and the signing of 24 bilateral Agreements/MoUs in both the private and public sectors. It is our hope that the terms of these agreements will be translated into reality for the mutual benefits of our two countries,” he added.
Economic Policies under King Mohammed VI Rated Highly, and Central Bank Notes 2017 Outlook – Jean R. AbiNader
A feature story in Morocco World News highlighted the positive changes in the Moroccan economy during the reign of King Mohammed VI. As it noted, “Since the 2000s, the kingdom’s GDP has practically doubled to hit all-time records. Not only has this newfound wealth helped the country reduce its poverty rate by half, but it has also set Morocco on the road to become one of the leading developing countries in the region.”
The article attributes these changes to the government’s new approach and mentality towards business since the enthronement of the King. At the time of his accession in 1999, Morocco was very much a quasi-statist economy, a failing model that the King wasted no time in challenging. He immediately began the process of building an extensive base for attracting international investors by investing heavily in upgrading and updating Morocco infrastructure – ports, airports, highways, and access to services.
Unlike previous reliance on tourism and agriculture, with some attention to textiles, the new Morocco sought to both enhance those industries through national plans to make them globally competitive and introduce industrialization based on its competitive advantage in wages and human resources. It also anticipated the fallout from the global financial crisis of 2008 by redirecting its trading activities towards Africa, which will double its population by 2050.
Now that the country’s industrial base is expanding rapidly, the King wants to extend those benefits more evenly throughout the country by promoting free zones and industrial cities in different locations and providing incentives to attract investors. There is no better example of this than the strategy to build industrial supply-chain clusters to support its manufacturing sectors.
This proactive industrialization policy would not have been as broadly successful had not Morocco revamped its economic policies. “Over the past two decades, Morocco has taken important steps to liberalize its economy. It has implemented various incentives to attract investors, signing free trade agreements and opening up new markets. The reign of Mohammed VI is synonymous with the opening of the Moroccan economy,” according to the article.
Other proactive steps taken by the government include the soon-to-be-adopted flexible exchange rate. This will make it possible to link the exchange rate to the domestic economy, rather than be subject to the vagaries of external currencies, giving Morocco more leeway in managing fiscal and monetary policies. The analysis points out that “The liberalization of the Moroccan economy has provided positive elements in terms of the growth of national GDP, the development of foreign direct investment, the emergence of a middle class, and the modernization of the agriculture and industry and services.”
Key factors the article notes that enabled Morocco’s success include political stability, human resources, low production costs, geographic location, and consistent economic growth. “At the same time, Morocco has embarked on numerous reforms to improve its business climate. An efficient regulatory framework, investment incentives, the fight against tax evasion, the modernization of the financial sector, encouragement of entrepreneurship, and more, are all projects upon which Morocco has capitalized.”
News on the Banking front
Additional insights into Morocco’s financial capacity were provided by the governor of the central bank, Bank Al-Maghrib (BAM), Abdellatif Jouahri, in his presentation to the King of BAM’s annual report on the economic, monetary, and fiscal outlook for the country.
Against the backdrop of last year’s weak performance of the agricultural sector due to a devastating drought, Morocco is making an impressive turnaround in 2017. International reserves are growing despite a slight uptick in the current account deficit (trade imbalance). To counter this, BAM has cut its key interest rate to 2¼% and is continuing its program to provide financing to micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises to enable job growth.
Other positive results are the continued growth of the banking sector in Africa, and the capacity of the key banks to manage risks associated with expansion and diversification of services. A new banking law has been implemented, and the regulatory framework is being finalized.
The article noted that the governor pointed out that “Despite the continuing high level of investment, the various sectoral strategies launched in recent years, and the measures taken to improve the business climate, the economy has not yet found the right trajectory and the development model to permanently place it on a path to higher growth…He said it is imperative to initiate a new generation of reforms to improve productivity and strengthen the resilience of the economy amid an uncertain international environment.”
Jouahri further noted that higher growth rates are needed to meet the challenges of high unemployment, and this must be accompanied by reforms in education and training to better match market needs. He echoed the King’s insistence on more inclusive economic growth based on policies of equal opportunity, reducing barriers to economic participation, and upgrading social and economic conditions throughout the country.
Sound Energy said its proposed pipeline route has been cleared by the local authority, paving the way for engineering and commercial activities necessary to support final authorisation.
Engineering work will now follow-up the preliminary approval.
Sound Energy PLC has revealed progress towards the commercialisation of its gas discoveries in eastern Morocco, where proposed pipeline route has been cleared by the local authority.
In a statement, the company told investors that the Wilaya of the L’Oriental Region has approved the proposed pipeline route that will be needed to transport gas from Sound’s projects in the region into the existing Gazoduc Maghreb Europe (GME) pipeline.
READ: Sound Energy details Morocco exploration plans following Tendrara successes
Sound Energy said it would now follow up this preliminary approval with engineering and commercial activities necessary to support final authorisation.
“I am delighted to have received this confirmation, which supports the significant progress we have made in developing our Moroccan portfolio to date,” said James Parsons, Sound Energy chief executive.
“The approval is also further evidence of the relationships that Sound Energy has built in country since entering in 2015, and the mutual co-operation that exists with local, regional and governmental authorities.”
Written by Energy Reporter
Sound Energy has been given the go-ahead for its gas export pipeline in Morocco.
The firm received written confirmation, from the Wilaya of the L’Oriental Region in Morocco, a local authority in Eastern Morocco, that preliminary approval has been provided for the proposed route of the gas export pipeline that will be necessary to transit gas from Sound Energy’s Eastern Moroccan interests to the Gazoduc Maghreb Europe (GME) pipeline.
Chief executive James Parsons said: “I am delighted to have received this confirmation, which supports the significant progress we have made in developing our Moroccan portfolio to date. The approval is also further evidence of the relationships that Sound Energy has built in country since entering in 2015, and the mutual co-operation that exists with local, regional and governmental authorities.”
This preliminary approval, which will now be followed up by engineering and commercial activities necessary to support final authorisation, is another step in the development of the infrastructure required to support the early monetization of gas from the TE-5 Horst discovery at Tendrara, according to the firm.
Sound Energy farmed in to the Tendrara licence in June 2015, taking a 55% working interest in the licence.
Following completion of a basin study, preliminary estimates from the Company indicate a range of volumes across the entire Tendrara and Meridja permit areas, with a 9 Tcf low case for unrisked original gas in place (gross) and, if all the key elements of the petroleum system’s model are present, an upside case of 31 Tcf of unrisked original gas in place (gross).
Further exploration activity, including the acquisition of additional 2D and 3D seismic and the requirement for further drilling, will be required to substantiate the estimated exploration potential of the Basin.
The North Africa Post
After attracting large-scale investments by automotive giants such as Renault and Peugeot, Morocco is on its way to launch two plants by two other car manufacturers in a bid to reach its production goal of 1 million cars annually, highlights Automotive News, a news website specializing in the car industry.
The website quotes an adviser with Invest Morocco, Khalid Qalam, who said that by the end of next year, Morocco will announce the name of a third global automaker to build an assembly plant there due to start operating in 2021. Yet he preferred to keep the name of the third manufacturer undisclosed.
Automotive news notes that Morocco is also planning to attract a fourth major automaker before the end of 2021. “A fourth project would help the country reach its stated goal of having the capacity to build 1 million vehicles a year by 2025,” Qalam told the website.
When Morocco reaches the production capacity of 1 million cars annually it will rank among the top 15 car makers in the world and probably enter the top 10, says the website.
Morocco is also attaching utmost importance to producing electrified vehicles along with conventional cars.
Enumerating Morocco’s investment incentives, Automotive news sheds light particularly on Morocco as a low-cost base to produce models for export to Europe.
To help make electric vehicle production more attractive, Morocco will be providing consumer incentives to get local buyers to consider switching to models that fully or partially run on battery power, it said.
By 2025, Morocco wants annual sales of electrified vehicles to rise to 100,000 from small numbers today, it noted, adding that the shift to electrified transportation coincides with Morocco’s aim to become a major producer of solar power and to cover half of the country’s energy needs from alternatives such as sun, wind and biomass.
Other investment incentives include the cheap labor cost in Morocco compared to Spain and the zero tax rate for companies in the first five years as well as a big break on value added tax.
In terms of infrastructure, Automotive news mentions the Tangier-Med port that has been equipped to offer a platform for exporting 1 million cars a year.
Posted by North Africa Post
North Africa Post’s news desk is composed of journalists and editors, who are constantly working to provide new and accurate stories to NAP readers.
Construction week online
Fatima De La Cerna
The Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD) awarded Morocco $2.5bn (AED9bn) worth of grants and concessionary loans, it has been revealed.
The amount was used for the implementation of 76 development projects spanning a number of sectors, including housing, transport, education, and healthcare.
An ADFD report on Morocco noted that the projects have helped boost the country’s economic and social conditions.
Commenting on the organisation’s partnership with the North African nation, Mohammed Saif Al Suwaidi, director-general of ADFD, said: “At ADFD, we are truly proud of our cooperation with the Moroccan government.
“Together, we have supported many strategic and sustainable projects that have boosted economic growth and elevated living standards in Morocco.”
ADFD currently owns equity shares in several Morocco-based companies that are active in the telecommunications, holding, agriculture and livestock, tourism, and industry sectors, according to UAE state news agency, WAM.
by Georgina Enzer
Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD), Abu Dhabi’s leading national entity for development aid, and the Government of Morocco have enjoyed strong bilateral ties dating back to 1974.
The four-decade-long close relations continue to drive sustainable socio-economic development across key sectors that benefit the citizens of Morocco.
To date, the Fund has supported Morocco with grants and concessionary loans worth AED9 billion across 76 development projects spanning diverse sectors, most notably transport, housing, water and agriculture, education, and healthcare.
In addition, ADFD currently owns equity shares in several Morocco-based companies, active in the telecommunications, holding, agriculture and livestock, tourism, and industry sectors. These include Maroc Telecom, Rebab Company, Société Delma d’Investissements Touristiques (Delma Company), Société Palmeraie Maroc Emirats (Palmare), Ciments du Maroc (CIMAR), and Union Maroc Emirats Arabes Unis de Pêche (UMEP).
According to ADFD’s country report marking Morocco’s Throne Day on 30 July, the 76 development projects have significantly contributed to improving economic and social conditions in the country.
On this occasion, His Excellency Mohammed Saif Al Suwaidi, Director General of ADFD, extended his sincerest congratulations to the Moroccan royal family, government, and people, and wished them continued prosperity. Furthermore, he stressed the importance of the unique historic ties between the UAE and Morocco, exemplified by the fraternal relations between the UAE President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan and His Majesty King Mohammed VI of Morocco.
“At ADFD, we are truly proud of our cooperation with the Moroccan government. Together, we have supported many strategic and sustainable projects that have boosted economic growth and elevated living standards in Morocco,” said His Excellency Mohammed Saif Al Suwaidi.
The following is a brief overview of notable projects funded by ADFD in Morocco:
ADFD funded a high-speed train project with a total amount of AED 514 million. The project includes the construction of a 200 km long, 320 km/hr train that will bridge the gap between the cities of Tangier and Kenitra and reduce the travel time to two hours.
Port of Tangier
In 2002, ADFD provided funds worth an estimated AED 1.1 billion to build a global sea port featuring docks for large ships, wharfs, and passenger terminals. Strategically located 35 km east of Tangier on the intersection of the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, on one of the most important trade routes, the port links Morocco with maritime destinations across Europe and beyond.
Today, the Port of Tangier has evolved into one of Morocco’ main trade and commerce hubs that bolsters exports and brings multiple economic benefits to the country.
In 2014, ADFD provided funds worth AED 501 million to develop the Khroub Dam. One of the most significant projects in the water and irrigation sector, the dam supplies water to the residents of Tangier and Asilah.
Housing project in six Moroccan cities
In line with the Moroccan government’s housing development goals, ADFD has spared no effort to elevate living standards across the country. Over the past four decades, the Fund financed multiple projects aiming to increase the supply of residential units for Moroccans. The most significant among them is the AED 830 million multi-city projects that comprised the construction of 398,700 housing units in major cities: Marrakesh, Casablanca, Fès-Boulemane,
Eastern Region, Tangier-Tetouan, and Meknes.
Sheikh Zayed Hospital in Rabat
ADFD’s extensive healthcare portfolio in Morocco has fundamentally improved medical services available to the country’s population. Among the most notable contributions is the Fund’s AED 158 million grant for the Sheikh Zayed Hospital in Rabat in 1989 – a 235-bed specialist hospital operating in line with international best practices. In 1996, ADFD provided another AED 4 million to finance the hospital’s operations.
Trans-Maghreb Motorway Axis
The AED 217 million motorway connects the city of Tangier on the Atlantic coast with multiple tourist attractions and commercial hubs on its way to the eastern regions of the country. The project has significantly improved transportation services and boosted trade between countries of the Greater Maghreb region and Mediterranean nations.
Railway Station in Casablanca
In 2014, ADFD injected AED 78 million in the refurbishment of the railway station in Casablanca with the aim of improving connectivity between cities. The station now boasts increased capacity and better services for travellers.
Port of Casablanca Development and Rehabilitation
Also in 2014, ADFD provided AED 290 million for the development and rehabilitation of the Port of Casablanca. The project helped increase traffic capacity and included a four-kilometre road to enable easy truck access into Ain Al-Sabaa industrial area and the logistical area in Zanatah.
Electricity generation projects in Moroccan cities
To ensure an adequate and reliable power supply, the AED 91 million venture rehabilitated power stations in seven Moroccan cities: Jerada, Mohammedia, Kenitra, Laayoune, Agadir, Tan-Tan, and Dakhla.
Mohammed VI University Hospital in Marrakesh
Abu Dhabi government’s grant worth AED 239 million helped purchase equipment for the 916-bed Mohammed VI University Hospital in Marrakesh. The specialist medical complex spans 8.8 hectares.
The United States remains the major arms supplier for Morocco during the past five years, local media reported on Monday.
The Moroccan daily Al Massae said the north African kingdom bought from the United States ammunition, defense equipment, and heavy arms worth some 50 million U.S. dollars in 2016.
Citing an annual Congressional report, the daily said Morocco’s total purchases of arms reached 4.7 billion U.S. dollars between 2008 and 2015.
Morocco, along with Algeria, are considered the top two buyers of arms in Africa.
On Throne Day, Moroccan King Calls on Elected Officials, Civil Servants to Uphold Citizens’ Interests
Washington, DC, July 31, 2017 (MACP) – In a speech to the nation on July 29 marking the 18th anniversary of his reign, Morocco’s King Mohammed VI strongly chastised civil servants and elected officials who have failed to provide strong and responsive democratic institutions equally across the country, saying, “The development projects and the political and institutional reforms carried out target a single goal: to serve citizens, wherever they may be. There is no difference between north and south, east and west, urban and rural areas.”
The King called on Morocco’s diverse political parties and civil servants to prioritize their responsibility to citizens over self-interest. “Morocco must come first: before political parties, before elections and before senior positions,” he said. “Today, however, we are witnessing glaring paradoxes that are hard to understand or accept. On the one hand, Morocco enjoys indisputable credibility at continental and international levels, the esteem and consideration of our partners and the confidence of major investors, such as the Boeing, Renault and Peugeot groups. But on the other hand, we are shocked by the end results, the facts on the ground and the modest achievements made in certain social sectors, so much so that it is shameful to admit we are actually talking about present-day Morocco.”
The King insisted, “I will not accept any backtracking on democratic achievements,” and called for the implementation, “fully and rigorously,” of Article 1 of the Constitution mandating accountability in the public sector. “It is high time this principle were implemented in full,” he said. “Just as the law applies equally to all citizens, it must be applied, first and foremost, to all officials, without distinction or discrimination, and in all of the Kingdom’s regions. This is the dawn of a new era.”
The King reaffirmed the importance of the Western Sahara as a top priority for Morocco. And, alluding to the Green March of 1975 to reclaim it from Spain, he said, “What I am seeking to achieve today, in all regions of the Kingdom, is a new [march] – a march for the achievement of human and social development; a march for equality and social justice for all Moroccans. One may come up with the most efficient development model and the best plans and strategies but:
- without a change in mentality;
- without having the best civil servants;
- without the political parties choosing the best elites that are qualified to run public affairs;
- without a sense of responsibility and national commitment; one would not be able to offer all Moroccans the free, dignified life one wants them to have.”
“King Mohammed VI’s speech shows, once again, Morocco’s steadfast commitment to staying on the path of modernization and democracy and continuing to act as a force for progress and stability in the region,” said former US Ambassador to Morocco Edward M. Gabriel. “The King’s focus on accountability, transparency, and the government’s responsibility to the citizens shows how clearly he recognizes that democracy is not just about free and fair elections, it is primarily about serving the people of Morocco.”
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.
King Mohammed VI delivered a speech to the nation on the occasion of the eighteenth anniversary of Throne Day. Below is the full text thereof:
“Praise be to God,
May peace and blessings be upon the Prophet, His Kith and Kin
Today, we are celebrating the eighteenth anniversary of my accession to the throne, in a national environment characterized by achievements as well as challenges.
This yearly celebration is an opportunity to renew the mutual bonds of the Bei’a uniting us and to take stock, together, of the state of the nation.
The development projects and the political and institutional reforms carried out target a single goal: to serve citizens, wherever they may be. There is no difference between north and south, east and west, urban and rural areas.
It is true that Morocco’s resources are limited. It is also a fact that many regions need more basic social services.
However, Morocco has been constantly developing, by the grace of the Almighty. Progress is clear and real; it is recognized across the board and in all sectors.
Today, however, we are witnessing glaring paradoxes that are hard to understand or accept.
On the one hand, Morocco enjoys indisputable credibility at continental and international levels, the esteem and consideration of our partners and the confidence of major investors, such as the Boeing, Renault and Peugeot groups. But on the other hand, we are shocked by the end results, the facts on the ground and the modest achievements made in certain social sectors, so much so that it is shameful to admit we are actually talking about present-day Morocco.
While it is true that our action, through a number of sectoral plans – like those relating to agriculture, industry and renewable energy – has been successful, human and local development programs, which have a positive impact on citizens’ living conditions, do us no credit, nor do they match our ambitions.
In many sectors, this is mostly due to the inadequacy of joint action, the lack of a national, strategic dimension, inconsistency instead of harmony, disparagement and procrastination instead of entrepreneurship and concrete action.
These paradoxes are even more acute when we compare the private sector – which is efficient and competitive, and which is built on a governance model that has incentives, as well as follow-up and monitoring mechanisms – to the public sector, particularly our civil service, which is suffering from poor governance and weak performance.
The private sector is attracting the best human resources that are trained in our country. They are involved in the management of major international groups in Morocco as well as small and medium-sized Moroccan enterprises.
As for civil servants, many of them do not have the skills, qualifications or ambition required; moreover, they are not always guided by a sense of responsibility.
Some of them report to work for only short periods of time, preferring to settle for modest – but guaranteed – pay, instead of working hard to improve their social conditions.
One of the problems which impede Morocco’s progress is the weakness of the civil service, be it in terms of governance, efficiency or the quality of the services provided to citizens.
For instance, the regional investment centers – with the exception of one or two – are a problem. They impede the act of investing instead of serving as a mechanism that provides incentives and resolves the problems of investors at the regional level, without their having to go to central government departments.
This has an adverse impact on regions that are suffering from insufficient – sometimes inexistent – private investment and from the public sector’s weak performance. This, in turn, affects citizens’ living conditions.
The challenge is even more daunting in regions with the biggest shortage of health, education and cultural services, not to mention the lack of jobs. Greater cooperative efforts are required to close gaps and help these regions catch up with the others.
Conversely, regions with a vibrant private sector, like Casablanca, Rabat, Marrakech and Tangier, are enjoying strong economic dynamism which creates wealth as well as jobs.
To put an end to this situation, governors, caids, directors, staff members, local officials, etc. should work hard, just like staff in the private sector – or even harder. They should show a sense of responsibility that does credit to the civil service and yields concrete results since these officials are entrusted with serving citizens’ interests.
All in all, 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.
The evolution witnessed in Morocco in the political domain and in the area of development has not led to the kind of positive reaction you would expect from political parties, leaders and government officials when dealing with the real aspirations and concerns of Moroccans.
When results are positive, political parties, politicians and officials vie for the spotlight to derive benefits from the achievements made, both politically and in terms of media exposure.
However, when matters do not turn out the way they should, they hide behind the Royal Palace and ascribe everything to it.
As a result, citizens complain to the King about government services or officials that take too long to respond to their queries or process their cases, asking him to intercede on their behalf.
Citizens are entitled to convincing answers – within reasonable timeframes – to their queries and complaints, including the explanation or justification of negative decisions. Requests and queries should not be turned down without a valid legal reason; they should be rejected only when they are inconsistent with the law, or when the citizen concerned has not completed the relevant procedures or met the requirements.
Given this situation, citizens are entitled to ask themselves: What is the use of having institutions, holding elections, forming governments and appointing ministers, walis, governors, ambassadors and consuls if they live on one planet, and the people and their concerns are on another one?
The practices of some elected officials induce a number of citizens, especially young people, to shun political life and take no part in elections.
Put simply, they do not trust politicians; indeed, some stakeholders have perverted politics, diverting it away from its lofty objectives.
If the King of Morocco is not convinced of the way political activity is conducted and if he does not trust a number of politicians, what are the citizens left with?
To all those concerned I say: ‘Enough is enough!’ Fear God in what you are perpetrating against your homeland. Either discharge your obligations fully or withdraw from public life. There are plenty of honest men and women in Morocco.
This situation can no longer be tolerated because the homeland’s interests and those of the citizens are at stake. I am choosing my words carefully here, and I know what I am saying because it comes after deep reflection.
The responsibility and the privilege of serving citizens call for action that goes from responding to their basic demands to implementing projects – big and small.
As I always point out, there is no difference between small and large projects. All projects are meant to meet people’s needs.
Whether a project concerns a district, a hamlet, a city, a region or the entire country, it still has the same objective, which is to serve citizens. In the eyes of citizens, digging a well or building a dam, for instance, are equally important.
What is the meaning of responsibility if the official concerned loses sight of one of the most basic requirements of that responsibility, which is to listen to citizens’ concerns?
I fail to understand how officials who do not fulfill their duties can leave home, drive their cars, stop at traffic lights and brazenly and shamelessly look people in the face, knowing that they are aware of their unscrupulous conduct.
Are these people who took the oath before God, the homeland and the King, and who fail to perform their duties, not ashamed of themselves? Should not any official who is guilty of dereliction of duty be held to account and dismissed?
I must insist, in this respect, on the need to apply rigorously the provisions of the second paragraph of Article 1 of the Constitution, which links public office with accountability.
It is high time this principle were implemented in full. Just as the law applies equally to all citizens, it must be applied, first and foremost, to all officials, without distinction or discrimination, and in all of the Kingdom’s regions.
This is the dawn of a new era in which there is no difference between officials and citizens as far as civic rights and obligations are concerned; nor is there room for shirking responsibility or avoiding sanctions.
I insist on the need to implement the provisions of the Constitution fully and rigorously. This is a collective responsibility which lies with all stakeholders, each in their respective area of competence – the government, parliament, political parties and all the institutions concerned.
When an official obstructs or delays the implementation of a development project or a social program, this is not simply a case of dereliction of duty; it amounts to treason because that official is harming the interests of citizens and preventing them from enjoying their legitimate rights.
Strangely enough, there are some officials who fail in their duty and still consider that they deserve a higher position.
It is attitudes and inconsistencies such as these that give substance to the widely-held belief among most Moroccans that the reason behind vying for positions is to benefit from rent-seeking and to wield power and influence to serve one’s own interests.
And since examples of such practices exist in everyday life, people unfortunately tend to give credence to this belief.
But, thank God, not all politicians and senior civil servants are like that. There are trustworthy people who genuinely love their homeland and who are known for their integrity, uprightness and commitment to serving the public good.
The events taking place in some parts of the country have regrettably revealed an unprecedented lack of the sense of responsibility.
Instead of each party fulfilling its national and professional obligations; instead of resorting to cooperation and collaborative efforts to resolve citizens’ problems, the parties concerned have been laying the blame at one another’s door, and narrow politicking has been allowed to take precedence over the homeland. As a result, citizens’ interests have been ignored.
Some political parties believe that all they have to do is hold their general meetings, those of their political and executive committees and get involved in election campaigns.
But when it comes to engaging the citizens and solving their problems, they do nothing and are non-existent. This is unacceptable on the part of institutions whose role is to guide and represent the citizens and to serve their interests.
I never expected partisan bickering and political score-settling to go as far as to jeopardize the interests of citizens.
Running public affairs should have nothing to do with personal or partisan interests, populist discourse, or the use of strange expressions that undermine political action.
I have noted that most stakeholders have opted for a win-lose rationale to preserve or expand their political capital at the expense of the homeland, even if that means making the situation worse.
The fact that political parties and their representatives refrain from performing their mission – sometimes deliberately, and sometimes out of a lack of credibility or patriotism – has further compounded the situation.
Given this regrettable and dangerous vacuum, law enforcement services have found themselves face to face with the citizens. They have bravely and patiently fulfilled their duty, showing restraint and commitment to the rule of law as they maintained security and stability.
I am referring to Al Hoceima, but what happened there could actually occur in any other region.
This refutes what some have referred to as the ‘security approach’, as if Morocco were sitting on top of a volcano, or as if each household and each citizen were being watched over by a policeman.
Some even say there is a radical wing and a moderate one, adding that they disagree on how to tackle these events. Nothing could be further from the truth!
In reality, there is only one policy and a single, unwavering commitment, which is to enforce the law, respect the institutions, ensure the security of citizens and safeguard their property.
Moroccans know that the people behind the afore-mentioned anachronous theory are using it as a business undertaking; they also realize that what these people say is not credible.
They act as if law-enforcement services are the ones who run the country and control the government and senior officials. It is probably these services that set prices, etc.
By contrast, law enforcement officers are making major sacrifices, working day and night in difficult conditions to fulfil their duty, maintain the internal and external security and stability of the homeland, and safeguard the security, serenity and tranquility of citizens.
Moroccans have every right and ought, in fact, to be proud of their law-enforcement authorities. I say this loud and clear, without any inferiority complex: if certain nihilists do not want to admit this, or refuse to tell the truth, it is their problem – and theirs alone.
The Moroccan institutional model is an advanced political system.
Nevertheless, for the most part, it is not properly applied. The problem concerns actual implementation on the ground. Having said that, I am particularly keen to respect the prerogatives of institutions as well as the separation of powers.
However, if officials fail to discharge their duties, and the interests of the homeland and of citizens are jeopardized, it is incumbent upon me, as per the Constitution, to ensure the country’s security and stability and to safeguard people’s interests as well as their rights and freedoms.
At the same time, I will not accept any backtracking on democratic achievements, nor will I tolerate any obstruction as far as the work of institutions is concerned. Both the Constitution and the law are quite clear, and powers need no explanation.
Officials must exercise their prerogatives without waiting for someone’s permission. And instead of repeating the same excuse – namely ‘I am being prevented from doing my job’ – it is better for them to offer their resignation, which nobody would reject.
Morocco must come first: before political parties, before elections and before senior positions.
Until my very last breath, I will always take pride in serving you, for I was brought up to love our motherland and to serve its sons and daughters.
I solemnly promise, before God, to keep up my earnest endeavors and seek to meet your expectations so that your aspirations may be fulfilled.
Allow me, Dear citizens, to speak my mind and tell you exactly how I feel, eighteen years after assuming the sacred mission of leading the nation.
I cannot hide certain matters from you. You know them quite well. It is my duty to tell you the truth. Otherwise, I will let you down.
You will notice, Dear Citizens, that I have not talked about our territorial integrity, Africa, or any other foreign policy issue.
Needless to say, the question of the Moroccan Sahara is not open for discussion, and, of course, it remains a top priority.
What I am seeking to achieve today, in all regions of the Kingdom, is a new massîra, or march – a march for the achievement of human and social development; a march for equality and social justice for all Moroccans, because such a major endeavor cannot be carried out in one region and not in the others.
One may come up with the most efficient development model and the best plans and strategies but:
- without a change in mentality;
- without having the best civil servants;
- without the political parties choosing the best elites that are qualified to run public affairs;
- without a sense of responsibility and national commitment; one would not be able to offer all Moroccans the free, dignified life one wants them to have.
I do not want you, Dear Citizens, to think, after listening to this address, that I am being pessimistic.
Far from it! You know that I am a realist. I tell the truth, painful though it may be.
Pessimism is the lack of will, the absence of a forward-looking vision and the inability to see things as they are.
Thank God, our resolve is both firm and sincere, and we also have a clear, long-term vision. We know who we are and where we are heading.
Throughout the centuries, and by the Grace of the Almighty, Morocco has managed to survive countless hardships, thanks to the close, symbiotic relationship between the Throne and the people.
And here we are today, forging ahead and making progress, together, in various sectors. We confidently and resolutely look forward to making more achievements.
Almighty God says:
‘Allah does command you to render back your Trusts to those to whom they are due; and when you judge between man and man, that you judge with justice’.
True is the Word of God.
Wassalmu alaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh. “
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