The moroccan press

Morocco Looking To Diversify Cooperation With India: Envoy

Western Sahara Worldnews - Thu, 03/30/2017 - 05:21

Canindia

Morocco, fast emerging as north Africa’s economic leader and a major source of phosphates for India, is keen to diversify its cooperation with New Delhi and is looking forward to a key bilateral meeting in May to boost its partnership, the country’s envoy has said.

“The Morocco-India Joint Commission will convene on May 25-26 in Rabat. Both countries are also celebrating the 60th anniversary of the establishment of their diplomatic relations this year. The two countries have gone far in their cooperation which is being reinforced and diversified,” Morocco’s Ambassador to India Mohamed Maliki told IANS in an interview.

Referring to the “very warm and lengthy” meeting between Moroccan King Mohammed VI and Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the sidelines of the Third India-Africa Forum Summit in New Delhi in October 2015, the envoy said the two leaders decided to elevate bilateral ties to a Strategic Partnership and “instructed their governments to work to materialise the important decision”.

Both sides are now working to include new areas of cooperation to the partnership, besides the traditional ones of fertiliser, chemicals, automobiles, renewable energy and construction, among others, Maliki said.

“The two sides are exploring new areas in order to diversify their cooperation, especially in the economic sector,” he added.

“Relations between India and Morocco include not only trade but investment as well. India is the largest Asian recipient of Moroccan governmental investment. Indeed, thanks to the several joint ventures between OCP (Office Cherifien Phosphates Group) and India, investment is an important part of relations between the two sides,” Maliki said.

Maliki termed the India-Africa Forum Summit in October 2015 in New Delhi as not only a “remarkable milestone” in African-Indian relations but also a “significant milestone” due to the participation of the Moroccan King in the Summit. “The Indian government rightly decided that the Summit should not be convened without the participation of an important African country, which is Morocco.”

He said the return of Morocco to the African Union earlier this year after three decades would add momentum to Africa-India relations.

He said both sides are working on promoting tourism and cultural relations “while enabling more cooperation between the cultural institutions of the two countries and holding cultural events in India and Morocco”, leveraging particularly on the huge craze for Indian movies in Morocco.

“The commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations is yet another occasion to stress on the excellent relations between the two countries in all sectors, and an opportunity not only to celebrate but also to double the efforts in bringing together the two governments and peoples, that could lay the ground to further economic cooperation.”

Over the past few months, Moroccan King Mohammed VI has been touring the African continent, accompanied by business delegations, that has resulted in initiatives in the fertilser sector, infrastructure, and in energy.

The kingdom is keen to position itself as the gateway to Africa.

“Rich with their cumulative experiences, India and Morocco can join their efforts and launch initiatives towards the African countries and thereby contribute to South-South cooperation,” the envoy added.

(Ranjana Narayan can be reached at ranjana.n@ians.in)

–IANS

Morocco Tops Africa Capacity Index 2016 For STI

Western Sahara Worldnews - Thu, 03/30/2017 - 05:08

Ghana Business News
By Pamela Ofori-Boateng

Morocco is the leader in Capacity Building in Africa in the area of Science,Technology and Innovation (STI), for the year 2016, according to the latest Africa Capacity Report (ACR), 2017.

The report released by the African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF), surveyed 44 African countries, measured and empirically assessed capacity against the development agenda in African countries.

The results for the African Capacity Building Index (ACI), were generally satisfactory as the ACI value ranged from 71.6 (Morocco) to 33.1 (Central African Republic), it said.

The ACR, noted that more efforts will be required for countries to move into the Very High Bracket in the index since no country reached the Very High extremes of capacity for the year under review.

Majority of the countries, the report pointed out have a medium capacity as out of the 44 countries surveyed, most (74 per cent) fell within the medium bracket, 20.5 per cent were in the High bracket, and 4.5 per cent were in the low bracket, it noted.

The report further says the best performance was in gender equality and social inclusion, for which there were no countries in the Low or Very Low brackets.

The indicators according to the report, depicts that Africa is making gradual process in developing its capacity for STI, despite the numerous challenges confronting it.

Adding to that, African countries have a long way to go in improving the outcome of capacity development, given that capacity-needs assessments are not the priority for most of them.

The report identified brain drain or mass migration of African skilled scientists and other experts as one of the factors impeding the development of STI in Africa.

ACBF plays a highly relevant role as it is well positioned to make an important difference through funding, interventions and technical assistance for capacity building projects and programmes to meet the needs of African member countries and non-state actors.

The ACR 2017 focuses on building capacity for STI in Africa. It also focuses on the capacity building imperatives for STI to accelerate Africa’s transformation

By Pamela Ofori-Boateng

Business Brief: Dakhla and Sahara Featured at Crans Montana Forum; The Life of a Pink Shirt Dress from Morocco – Jean R. AbiNader

Morocco on the move - Wed, 03/29/2017 - 19:40

Jean R. AbiNader, MATIC
March 29, 2017

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

The Crans Montana Forum’s annual foray in Morocco highlighted the Sahara region and the future of Morocco’s Africa strategy while creating a platform for the international exchange of ideas and deal-making. The BBC was busy tracing the lineage of a dress from Inditex, a­­­­ Spanish company, illustrating the global nature of the textile industry.

Crans Montana Draws Record Attendance. More than 1,000 delegates attended this year’s Crans Montana Forum to discuss developments in Africa and how to support South-South cooperation. Moroccan ministers joined senior African government officials, a special delegation from Small Island Developing States (SIDS), and delegates from across Asia and Africa for five days in Dakhla, which hosted the event for the third consecutive year under the theme “Towards a New Africa for the 21st Century – Stability, Cohesion and Solidarity for a Sustainable Development.” Among topics discussed were food security, sustainable agriculture, renewable energies, public health, migration to Europe, and women’s participation in economic and political development.

In his message to the Forum, King Mohammed VI made reference to Morocco’s return to the African Union, noting that it will be at the forefront of contributing to serving Africa’s interests and “consolidating its peoples’ unity and cohesion.” He made the point that with this cooperation “Morocco will not, however, give up defending its lofty interests, particularly its national unity and territorial integrity.” For Morocco, the Sahara is a region of historic and cultural import, and is now being touted as a center from which to promote communications and trade with sub-Saharan African states.

According to an article by the Indo-Asian News Service on the Forum, “Morocco has launched a number of infrastructure projects in the Western Sahara…– part of an $8 billion development plan designed to ‘make the Moroccan Sahara a hub for communication and exchange with sub-Saharan African countries.’ The projects include new ports, fish markets, desalinization and fertilizer plants, and road infrastructure improvements.”

The Daily Sabah wrote about an interesting sub-text of the gathering: improving ties between Africa and Pacific Islands, as many of them will suffer the consequences of climate change if more countries don’t take responsibility for the goals of COP22. The Forum gave these countries an opportunity to become more engaged in building solutions to avoid catastrophic results from climate change.

Another message of interest was voiced by delegates from Turkey who talked about the role their country can play to support development in Africa. Nezaket Emine Atasoy, head of the Industrialist Businesswomen and Businessmen Confederation (SANKON), told The Daily Sabah that “Turkey has the potential to make investments in Africa. ‘Construction, infrastructure and energy sectors are the main ones for investment. Moreover, farming is a growing sector and investments in this field may create an opportunity to turn African countries into exporters.’ She also added that African businessmen and politicians were very positive on Turkey’s growing interest in the continent.”

Morocco Plays Key Role in the Global World of Textiles. Morocco has escaped one of the traps of preferential trade agreements – endemic to the textile sector – which opens up growth opportunities in a sector only to see them dominated by foreign labor, which marginally contributes to the local economy. This is the case with Jordan, Oman, and Bahrain, with Free Trade Agreements with the US, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in its free trade zones. Garments are produced or assembled in these industrial parks and then shipped with little or no duty to customers around the world.

While this is a boon to manufacturers, few jobs are created for locals, even in countries where quotas are mandated. Morocco is different. Unlike the others, it has had a tradition of textile manufacturing so there are few if any cultural constraints (the “shame” factor, as it is called in Jordan) tied to working in the sector. Those working in semi-skilled jobs are seen as contributing to their families and the stability of the community.

The textile industry has changed, and Morocco is a great example of how few, if any, garments are fully manufactured in one country, similar to automobile construction. A recent BBC feature took the readers on a tour of a pink Zara-brand shirt dress to illustrate the internationalized process of clothes manufacturing.

The feature begins, “’Made in Morocco’ says the label on the pink Zara shirt dress. While this may be where the garment was finally sewn together, it has already been to several other countries. In fact, it’s quite possible this piece of clothing is better travelled than you.”

The basic material in the fabric is called lyocell, a sustainable alternative to cotton, sourced from trees in Europe. The fibers were then shipped to Egypt where low-cost factories spun the lyocell into a yarn that then went to China where it was woven into a fabric. “This fabric was then sent to Spain where it was dyed, in this case pink. The fabric was then shipped to Morocco to be cut into the various parts of the dress and then sewn together. After this, it was sent back to Spain where it was packaged and then sent to the UK, the US, or any one of the 93 countries where Inditex, the Zara brand owner, has shops.”

It’s no wonder that trade agreements which specify rules of origin – that is, the amount of content made by the trading partner, as the basis for favorable treatment – are often puzzled by how to measure value along the supply chain. “From dresses to t-shirts and trousers, most items of clothing sold around the world will have had similarly complicated journeys. In fact, they’re likely to be even more convoluted.”

According to the BBC, “Regardless of where they’re based, most factories are not owned by the fashion brands that use them. Instead, they’re selected as official suppliers. Often these suppliers subcontract work to other factories for certain tasks, or in order to meet tight deadlines.” According to a study by Christian Aid and Baptist World Aid Australia, “less than a fifth of brands know where all of their zips, buttons, thread and fabric come from.”

The post Business Brief: Dakhla and Sahara Featured at Crans Montana Forum; The Life of a Pink Shirt Dress from Morocco – Jean R. AbiNader appeared first on Morocco On The Move.

Categories: The moroccan press

Muslim Woman Founded World’s Oldest University

Western Sahara Worldnews - Wed, 03/29/2017 - 04:35

PopSugar
by Eleanor Sheehan

Don’t Get It Twisted: The Oldest University Was Founded by a Muslim Woman.

Muslim women have been transforming society since, well, at least 12 centuries ago. Founded in 859, the University of al-Qarawiyyin in Fez, Morocco, is the world’s oldest operating university — it was also endowed by a devout Muslim woman with her inheritance.

Fatima al-Fihri, who was Tunisian, donated the funds to open a mosque and madrasa (a school which teaches religious texts) in the mid ninth century, but the property was expanded to be a university by the tenth century. Now the stunning campus houses one of the world’s oldest libraries, which was recently restored after being kept private for scholarly use for hundreds of years.

According an Associated Press report on the library’s restoration, its collection of Islamic historical manuscripts is unparalleled. For example: al-Qarawiyyin’s library includes a ninth century Quran written in ancient Kufic calligraphy.

“The manuscripts are now kept in a secure room, with strict temperature and humidity control,” reported the AP in 2016 after the renovations were completed.

By 1947, the school was officially integrated into Morocco’s public education system, and in 1967, it became the University of al-Karaouine. Though European schools are often credited with being the first universities, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization considers al-Karaouine a university since its original inception as a madrasa — making it the oldest in history.

So, in honor of Muslim women everywhere, let’s attempt to make it abundantly clear who founded the first university: a Muslim woman in Morocco.

Ahead are some photos of the campus taken by users on Instagram.

Sound Energy Proves More Hydrocarbons In Morocco

Western Sahara Worldnews - Wed, 03/29/2017 - 04:23

Oil & Gas News

Sound Energy, the African and European focused upstream gas company, is pleased to announce the results of its third well at its Tendrara licence, onshore Morocco, which both establishes the Westward extension of the primary hydrocarbon system proven in Algeria into Morocco, and further confirms the potential of the TAGI play in-country.

The Company had previously announced that it had completed the drilling of TE-8 by reaching Target Depth for the well at 3,120 metres, some 359 metres into the Paelozoic (which was previously undrilled at Tendrara and Meridja). Sound Energy has now completed logging, including the use of the Saturn 3D Radial Probe MDT.

The Company is delighted to report that the TE-8 well has successfully identified and penetrated the full sequence of Westphalian sands in the Paleozoic (between 2,762 metres through to 3,120 metres) beneath an intraformational seal with gas shows observed during drilling. The Saturn MDT was unable to test these sands (the tool being unable to provide a reading given the rugosity of the hole and relative low permeability) however they are believed to be permeable and likely able to be produced across the Tendrara and Meridja licences with mechanical stimulation.

The existence of the Westphalian sands (a proven producing Paleozoic sequence in neighbouring Algeria) in a separate petroleum system establishes the Westward extension of the primary hydrocarbon system proven in Algeria into Morocco. The Company therefore confirms a material derisking of the 3 Tcf low case to 10 Tcf upside case original gas in place (gross) Paleozoic potential captured in Sound Energy’s Eastern Morocco preliminary volume estimates (announced on 1 February 2017*).

The Company also confirms the identification of the full sequence of thick TAGI reservoir sands (between 2,642 metres through to 2,762 metres) extending some 12 Km to the north-east of the Company’s previous two wells at Tendrara. Gas shows in the TE-8 well, confirm the presence of the four-way dip closed trap mapped on seismic. The Saturn MDT has confirmed the TAGI sands at the TE-8 location are likely tight and the extent of the gas column in TE-8 is therefore still under evaluation. The TE8 logging results are still consistent with a very significant single gas column across Tendrara and Meridija with a continuous extended structure, which can be validated with the TE1 re-entry.

The Company will now take sidewall core samples and then suspend TE-8 in preparation for future operations, which may include mechanical stimulation of this well or a sidetrack. The Company will also update its static geological models and volumetric evaluation. This is likely to include an immediate re-entry of the TE-1 well, in the South of the Tendrara licence area, drilled by Agip in 1966.

*As announced by the Company on 1 February 2017, the Company preliminarily estimates 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). The Company cautions that notwithstanding its internal estimates for the exploration potential of the Tendrara and Meridja permit areas (the “Basin”), 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. A Competent Person’s Report to substantiate the Company’s estimated volumes is planned prior to Final Investment Decision at the end of 2017.

This announcement is inside information for the purposes of Article 7 of Regulation 596/2014.

James Parsons, the Company’s Chief Executive, commented:

“TE-8 is a highly significant well for the Company as we seek to derisk our transformational Eastern Morocco position.

Sound Energy’s first two wells at Tendrara unlocked the TAGI play. TE-8 has now established that the primary hydrocarbon system proven in Algeria extends into the more favourable Moroccan licence and fiscal regime.

I believe therefore that TE-8 will prove to be the Paleozoic play-opener in Morocco.

I am also pleased to confirm TAGI sands some 12 Km away from our previous discovery, which, although lower quality at this specific location, is expected to materially uplift our discovered volumes. We will provide an update to shareholders once our geological models have been updated and the sidewall core samples analysed.”

For more information, please visit: http://www.soundenergyplc.com

For more information on projects, please visit ProjectsOGP

Morocco Provokes Crisis By Blocking Western Sahara From AU Meeting

Western Sahara Worldnews - Tue, 03/28/2017 - 21:31

Middle East Eye
Malek Bachir

Two months after its return to African Union, Morocco has demanded exclusion of Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic from ministerial meeting.

Morocco sparked a diplomatic crisis on Friday by demanding the exclusion of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic from a meeting of the African Union and a UN commission, citing that it is not a UN member state.

The meeting of the AU and the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) was supposed to prepare for the arrival of African ministers of economy on 27 and 28 March.

The Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, or Western Sahara, is part of the AU but not part of the ECA and Morocco refuses to recognise SADR as a sovereign country.

The commission and the African Union announced on Saturday that as a consequence of Morocco’s move they had to postpone the ministerial meeting because the “conditions for the meeting have not being met”.

The representatives of the 54 African countries as well as partner countries and organisations who were there had not even begun looking at the issues.

“This crisis establishes a huge precedent. Morocco blew up the meeting,” a disappointed diplomat told Middle East Eye.

Neither behind-the-scenes negotiations, nor the threat of seeing several delegations leave, nor the exceptional arrival of the secretary-general of the ECA succeeded in making Rabat back down.

The Sahrawi independence movement and Morocco have been fighting over the Western Sahara since 1975, when the former colonial powers withdrew from the region without organising a referendum for the Sahrawi people, leaving the issue unresolved to this day.

Legal loophole

“We find ourselves in a complete stalemate because if the SADR had been excluded from proceedings, numerous delegations such as Nigeria, South Africa, or Algeria, heavyweights in the African Union, would have boycotted the meeting,” the diplomat added.

It is not the first time that Morocco has demanded that the SADR be excluded from multilateral proceedings. But previously, Morocco’s demands had been because the country was not part of the AU. However, Morocco rejoined the AU in January after leaving in protest in 1984 over the AU’s declarations on Western Sahara.

“This crisis is unsolvable because the SADR, though a member of the AU, is not a member of the ECA. Therefore the latter has no mandate to exclude it. We find ourselves facing a legal loophole,” the diplomat continued.

An Algerian judge close to the Sahrawi dossier, contacted by MEE, said: “The only thing the ECA can do to withdraw is to claim discord within the AU. For the rest, the argument raised by Morocco is not convincing. Indeed, sitting in the multilateral meeting with the SADR does not in any way oblige its recognition by the ECA or the UN. Algeria sits right next to Israel during UN meetings even though it will never recognise it.”

This crisis is unsolvable because the SADR, though a member of the AU, is not a member of the ECA

– Diplomat

According to the judge, the African Union Commission, an agent of the constitution of the organisation, has the power to “denounce Morocco by saying that it violates its international commitments since Rabat ratified the AU constitution without reservations. But the AU constitution has an obligation for states to respect and defend the independence of other member states. And to a certain extent, to prevent a member state such as the SADR from participating in multilateral proceedings is a limit to its independence.”

First signal to Addis Ababa

According to an African diplomat, Morocco “knows exactly what it is doing”.

“It couldn’t find a better place than Dakar because it knows that Senegal would support it. The objective was not to achieve the exclusion of the SADR today, but to mark the occasion. It is a way of saying: ‘We did not come back to the AU to let ourselves be pushed around’. In January, they arrived with big smiles. Then, they started to show their teeth.”

A signal was already sent on 20 March to Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital, where the AU is headquartered. Rabat boycotted the meeting of the African Union Peace and Security Council on the situation regarding the Western Sahara.

While the head of the Sahrawi diplomatic corp called it the first “failed” test, a Moroccan diplomatic source quoted by the information website Le Desk judged the meeting to be “unproductive and one-sided”.

At the time of Morocco’s return to the AU, the Algerian editorial writer Abed Charef had warned MEE that two options were possible: “Everyone is preparing for the next jousts. For Morocco, it will be either waging a diplomatic war to reconquer lost land, which could lead the African Union into new and never-ending battles, or to step into an area which allows openings, by using African Union resolutions as a starting point for a new policy. ”

The Dakar meeting has shown that Rabat has chosen the first approach.

This article was originally published on Middle East Eye’s French website.

Sound Energy Reports Annual Results And Updates On Tendrara Findings

Western Sahara Worldnews - Tue, 03/28/2017 - 16:42

London South East
By Joshua Warner

LONDON (Alliance News) – Sound Energy PLC on Tuesday said the third well to be drilled on the Tendrara licence onshore Morocco has confirmed the potential of the TAGI reservoir while establishing the proven hydrocarbon system in Algeria spreads into Morocco.

TE-8 was the third well to be drilled by Sound Energy, which was drilled to a target depth of 3,120 metres, some 258 metres into the Paelozoic.

“The company is delighted to report that the TE-8 well has successfully identified and penetrated the full sequence of Westphalian sands in the Paleozoic beneath an intraformational seal with gas shows observed during drilling,” said Sound Energy.

Sound Energy said it completed logging using the Saturn 3D Radial Probe MDT, but said that was unable to test those sands. However, they are believed to be permeable and likely able to be produced across the Tendrara and Meridja licences with mechanical stimulation, Sound said.

The existence of the Westphalian sands, a proven producing Paleozoic sequence in neighbouring Algeria, in a separate petroleum system establishes the westward extension of the primary hydrocarbon system proven in Algeria into Morocco.

“The company therefore confirms a material derisking of the 3.00 trillion cubic feet low case to 10.00 trillion cubic feet upside case original gas in place (gross) Paleozoic potential captured in Sound Energy’s Eastern Morocco preliminary volume estimates,” said Sound Energy.

The company also confirmed the identification of the full sequence of thick TAGI reservoir sands extending some 12 kilometres to the north-east of the company’s previous two wells at Tendrara.

“Gas shows in the TE-8 well, confirm the presence of the four-way dip closed trap mapped on seismic. The Saturn MDT has confirmed the TAGI sands at the TE-8 location are likely tight, and the extent of the gas column in TE-8 is therefore still under evaluation,” said Sound Energy.

“The TE8 logging results are still consistent with a very significant single gas column across Tendrara and Meridija with a continuous extended structure, which can be validated with the TE1 re-entry,” Sound Energy added.

The company will now take sidewall core samples and then suspend TE-8 in preparation for future operations, which may include mechanical stimulation of this well or a sidetrack. The company will update its static geological models and volumetric evaluation. Sound said “this is likely to include an immediate re-entry of the TE-1 well”.

Sound Energy also reported its 2016 annual results on Tuesday, posting a pretax loss of GBP15.2 million compared to the GBP18.3 million loss a year earlier, due to higher levels of impairments, rising operating costs and higher administrative expenses. Cash at the end of 2016 was at GBP46.8 million.

Sound Energy shares were down 0.9% at 83.0 pence per share on Tuesday.

By Joshua Warner; joshuawarner@alliancenews.com; @JoshAlliance

Copyright 2017 Alliance News Limited. All Rights Reserved.

Women Saving the Planet: Hakima El Haité of Morocco

Western Sahara Worldnews - Tue, 03/28/2017 - 14:40

Pacific Standard
By Lucia Graves

Hakima El Haité, host of COP22 in Marrakech, is a pioneer for women — in science and diplomacy, and above all in the struggle for climate justice.

Hakima El Haité is Morocco’s minister for the environment and host of COP22. (Illustration: Piotr Lesniak)

“I’m the most hated minister in the world,” Morocco’s environmental minister Hakima El Haité says with a laugh. “All the ministers of environment are hated you know? Because the ministers of environment are not very important in terms of protocol, but they are controlling everybody.”

El Haité is currently one up on her colleagues: They’re meeting in Marrakech, on her home turf. It’s November 18th, 2016, the last day of COP22, the annual United Nations climate summit, without a doubt the highest-profile event of her career, and spirits are running reasonably high, despite grim news out of America’s presidential election. What’s more, it’s clear that El Haité is well suited to her role.

Most environmental ministers are far more comfortable wearing their scientist hat, rather than that of statesman or spokesman. (Imagine the head of the Environmental Protection Agency orchestrating diplomatic talks on the world stage). But for two weeks each year, in whatever country has agreed to host climate talks, these scientists must double as the world’s top diplomats — and, in El Haité’s case, as a gracious host.

“Let it be clear, the fight for gender equality is not a matter of feminism, it is a societal matter.”
That she happens to be a woman in a Muslim country marks El Haité’s rise as all the more extraordinary, especially given that her qualifications set her apart in concentric male-dominated circles: She is a high-level Moroccan official; a doctor of science; a leader in the Arab world; and, now, chief overseer of global climate talks.

At 53, El Haité certainly has the bona fides to justify her impressively varied roles, both in the science-heavy realm of environmental policy and in the bluster-heavy one of international leadership. Born in Fes, she got her undergraduate degree in biology and microbiology from Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdellah University, also in Fes. But she didn’t stay there.

Instead, El Haité west to the United States, where she earned a degree in political communication in 2008, and then to France, where she completed a Ph.D. in environmental engineering from the École nationale supérieure des mines at Saint-Étienne, in 2010. Along the way, she held leadership roles in a number of organizations benefiting civil society, among them the Moroccan Association of Women Entrepreneurs and the International Network of Liberal Women, where she currently serves as vice president.

This story appears in the March/April 2017 issue of Pacific Standard.

Given a particularly difficult COP this past year, and especially one haunted by the specter of Donald Trump’s surprise victory, El Haité’s impressive background has stood her in good stead. In the overeducated, polyglot-elite bubble of the climate talks, it helps, for instance, that she’s trilingual: She can fend off questions about Trump in English, Arabic, or French.

But addressing audiences under the sloping white tents of COP22, El Haité appears to prefer the latter, slipping into English only at the behest of the occasional less linguistically accomplished reporter. “We should open the door for dialogue with the administration of the president,” she says of Trump in a characteristically diplomatic aside. “We have heard the candidate. Today we have to listen to the president. So we need more dialogue.”

Another area where more dialogue is needed, she says, is with women worldwide, and with women leaders especially. El Haité’s own advocacy around women and leadership is highly relevant at the Marrakech talks, where, despite a recent uptick in female representation among some of the COPs most visible roles, women still comprise a woefully small percentage of delegation heads — around one-third.

As El Haité explains in the final days of COP, as part of the Women Leaders and Global Transformation Summit in Marrakech, her views are less about women’s empowerment than good politics. “Who, other than us, mothers and grandmothers, understand better the challenges of providing food, water, and security to our children?” she asks her audience. “Let it be clear, the fight for gender equality is not a matter of feminism, it is a societal matter.”

In other words, in seeking climate solutions, we must incorporate the perspective and insights of women, or perish. It’s that simple — and that infinitely complex.

Yet, ever the politician, in private asides she repeatedly redirects all questions, seeking to talk up the success of her home country’s talks — in whatever language the moment requires.

On the last night of the Marrakech talks, long after the sky has gone black, she wants to explain to whatever reporters are still on the premises what she sees as the successful work of this year’s negotiation, and to remind us that the Marrakech talks, as with the Paris talks before them, were never really a destination; like the long red lines laid down by protesters along the Champs-Élysées following the signing of the 2015 agreement, they’re merely markers on the path forward.

As for the importance of having women in leadership at climate talks? As the rare female minister in a Muslim country, El Haité would rather talk about her job. “I really can’t tell you,” she says with a smile when I raise the subject. Pinching my cheeks, she shrugs in feigned helplessness as a coterie of staffers sweeps her out the doors of the half-abandoned media tent and into the night.

Morocco’s Stability Entices Chinese Investments, Global Risk Insights

Western Sahara Worldnews - Tue, 03/28/2017 - 04:50

The North Africa Post

The stability and location of Morocco at the crossroads between Europe and Africa are luring Chinese businesses eager to diversify their economic partners in Africa, says an article published on the website of Global Risk Insights, a global publication for political risk news and analysis.

The article, signed by Jeremy Luedi, sheds light on the steady development of economic ties between Morocco and China, notably following the boost given by the visit of King Mohammed VI to Beijing in 2016.

Economic ties are also reflecting the excellent political ties between the two countries marked by a mutual non-interference in internal issues. Both Morocco and China have been refraining from commenting on each other’s thorny issues notably those relating to their respective territorial integrity.

“Morocco is also becoming the default investment destination in North Africa, as the region continues to be unstable, with Morocco reaping the benefits of stability,” says Luedi, adding that “Alongside traditional exports to China such as phosphates, Morocco is seeing a tidal wave of Chinese investment in a host of sectors. Between 2011 and 2015 Chinese FDI in Morocco increased 195%, with a 93% increase between 2014 and 2015 alone. Since then things have only continued to accelerate.”

In this respect, the author enumerates the growing interest of Chinese firms in Morocco citing the setting up of an office of the Bank of China in Casablanca in March 2016 as part of Morocco’s Casablanca Finance City initiative. He also mentions the announcement by Yangtse Automobile of a $100 million investment (expected to create 2,000 jobs) in Tangier to produce electric cars and buses for export to Europe.

The article highlights as well the significance of the recently inaugurated joint venture between Chinese HAITE group and Morocco to build a $10 billion industry and technology hub in Tangier, which will create 100,000 jobs in the long run.

Morocco also sees new opportunities for its farm exports to China in its bid to diversify partners. The article points out that “given Morocco’s existing integration into EU food supply chains, Rabat is already beholden to high quality standards, a fact that appeals to many Chinese consumers. Indeed Chinese importers have cited Morocco’s ability to pass the EU Proficiency Test for Pesticide Residues as a seal of confidence.”

Moroccan tourism sector and culture are also attracting the Chinese, a trend witnessed even before Rabat’s decision to drop visa requirements for Chinese visitors in July 2016, as the 2016 National Day Travel Prediction Report had predicted a 3500% increase in visa applications to Morocco.

“By November 2016, Morocco saw a six fold increase in Chinese arrivals – a fact all the more impressive given that no direct flights exist between the two countries. With 42,000 Chinese tourists in 2016 – a 300% year-on-year increase from 2015 – Morocco has announced a goal of 100,000 visitors from the Middle Kingdom in 2017,” notes the author of the article.

As a result of this interest in the sector, Chinese investors from Guangzhou met with the Moroccan Society of Tourist Engineering in late February to discuss investments in hotels, resorts, spas and amusement parks, the article notes.

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.

Sound Energy Completes Third Well Drilling At Tendrara Licence In Onshore Morocco

Western Sahara Worldnews - Tue, 03/28/2017 - 04:42

Hydrocarbons Technology

Upstream gas company Sound Energy has announced that TE-8, the third well at the Tendrara licence located in onshore Morocco, was drilled to the final target depth at a measured depth (MD) of 3,120m.

The final vertical depth of the TE-8 was 3,066m, nearly 359m into the Paleozoic formation.

The company previously confirmed the identity of the presence of a TAGI sand sequence, starting from an MD of 2,643m containing gas.

Sound Energy also stated to have identified further gas shows during subsequent drilling operations at the property.

However, these should be taken as a positive initial indication, which can be confirmed only after further wireline logging and analysis.

Sound Energy will now advance with a full data acquisition programme containing five wireline logging runs, including the pressure and fluids sampling acquisition.

“Sound Energy will now advance with a full data acquisition programme containing five wireline logging runs, including the pressure and fluids sampling acquisition.”

The company will announce the final results of the well after the completion.

Sound Energy holds 55% working interest in the Tendara licence along with the operatorship.

The remaining 25% stake lies with ONHYM and 20% with Oil & Gas Investment Fund.

The first well (TE-6) was drilled at the property during the first half of last year to a measured vertical depth of 2,665m and encountered nearly 28m of net gas pay in the TAGI reservoir.

The second Tendara well (TE-7) was drilled to a total measured depth of 3,459m, carrying a vertical depth of 2,611m.

TE-7 has a total contact length through the TAGI reservoir of approximately 837m, which achieved a gas flow rate of 32MMscf/d, post stimulation.

What to Make of the Latest Jihadi Reorganization in the Sahara/Sahel – Caitlin Dearing Scott

Morocco on the move - Mon, 03/27/2017 - 22:05

Caitlin Dearing Scott
March 27, 2017

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

Earlier this month, three of the Sahel’s leading  jihadist groups – Ansar Dine, al-Mourabitoun, and Katiba Macina — announced a merger with al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) under the leadership of Ansar Dine chief Iyad Ag Ghaly and the banner “Nusrat ul-Islam” (group for the victory of Islam and Muslims). In a video announcing the merger, Ghaly appeared with Yahya Abou Hamam, emir of AQIM’s Sahara emirate; Amadou Kouffa, head of the Katiba Macina; Al-Hasan Al-Ansari, vice-emir of al-Mourabitoun; and Abu Abdul Rahman Senhadji, AQIM judge.

There has been no reaction from AQIM leader Abdelmalek Droukdel or the infamous leader of al-Mourabitoun Mokhtar Belmokhtar, but the newly-merged group has pledged its allegiance to al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri. So it appears that the merger was sanctioned by the powers that be.

The announcement is just the latest move in the tangled, ever-changing web of jihadist alliances in the Sahel. The last few years alone witnessed Belmokhtar leaving AQIM only to return and Abou Walid Al-Sahraoui, formerly of the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO) and al-Mourabitoun, forming a splinter group and pledging allegiance to the Islamic State under the banner of “the Islamic State in the Grand Sahara,” in direct contravention of Belmokhtar’s firm opposition to the Islamic State. (For a thorough overview, see Marc Memier’s recent report, AQMI et Al-Mourabitoun from the French Institute for International Relations.

For now, the merger doesn’t appear to signify a fundamental shift in the terrorist threat to the region, but rather a formalization of ties. These groups have worked together in the past, notably collaborating on the attack against the Raddison Blu hotel in Bamako in November 2015, the Ouagadougou attack in Burkina Faso in January 2016, and the Grand Bassam attack in Côte d’Ivoire in March 2016 — three of the deadliest and most high-profile attacks of the last two years. Though those attacks did signify to some degree the “Africanization” of AQIM — with its expansion  beyond  the Maghreb and the “core” group of Algerian combatants to now include fighters from virtually every country in West Africa — they didn’t result in a grand unification, on strategy or otherwise. By all accounts, the jihadi landscape is still fragmented; but it does operate across a larger swath of territory. It seems likely that individual brigades will continue to operate both autonomously and opportunistically – seeking external alliances when it appears beneficial and resorting to fragmentation and competition when it’s not. The same goes for individual jihadis.

So perhaps the bigger question is why now? What is it that led these groups to merge at this time? The most obvious answer is competition from the Islamic State (IS), which is not only seeking to expand its presence in the region after defeats in Libya, Syria, and Iraq, but also taking potential recruits from jihadi groups with their historic base in the Sahara/Sahel.  Over the past few years, a number of groups operating in the region have pledged their allegiance to the Islamic State – in some cases breaking off from AQIM in the process (Jund al-Khilafah in Algeria, for one) – leading AQIM to try to reverse the trend by encouraging IS fighters to defect.

This answer, however, flies in the face of other reports about collusion between Belmokhtar and the Islamic State in Libya. In early March, Libyan Minister of Defense Mahdi Barghathi (of the UN-backed government) claimed that the Islamic State was regrouping in southern Libya with the support of al-Qaeda, particularly Mokhtar Belmokhtar. As The Telegraph notes, “The unholy alliance of the world’s two most dangerous terrorist groups in Libya is at odds with the public animosity between al-Qaeda and Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) leadership.” In Mr. Barghathi’s view, the situation on the ground belies the hostile rhetoric between the two groups, and they are in reality “actively co-operating,” with al-Qaeda “providing logistics and support to help Isil re-group and launch attacks.”

Whether that is true – and whether it means something more than just the latest round of opportunism by Belmokhtar (and thus with few implications beyond southern Libya) – remains to be seen. What is certain is that Belmokhtar has always maintained larger ambitions than the Sahara/Sahel – seeking to unite “Muslims from the Nile to the Atlantic.” This merger may be a part of that – with Belmokhtar playing his preferred role behind the scenes – or it may mean very little. The announcement was nevertheless successful in putting al-Qaeda back in the spotlight, if only for a moment.

 

The post What to Make of the Latest Jihadi Reorganization in the Sahara/Sahel – Caitlin Dearing Scott appeared first on Morocco On The Move.

Categories: The moroccan press

Under The Radar: What’s Behind China’s Love Affair With Morocco?

Western Sahara Worldnews - Mon, 03/27/2017 - 03:13

Global Risk Insights
by Senior Analyst Jeremy Luedi

From trade to tourism, Morocco is quickly becoming a media darling in China, as the country’s stability, location and culture entice Chinese investment.

Chinese involvement and investment in Africa is well documented, with Beijing a major trading partner for the continent’s resource exporters. One of the latest countries to benefit from China’s attentions is Morocco, which is witnessing an unprecedented boom in bilateral relations. Morocco is quickly becoming an important partner for China on a range of issues: one can even say that Morocco-fever is gripping the Middle Kingdom.

Despite being only the second African country to recognize the People’s Republic of China in 1958, Morocco has until recently been overshadowed by the likes of Angola, and closer to home, by Algeria. Lacking substantial oil reserves, Morocco took a backseat during China’s resource binge in the 2000s, but has since seen an outpouring of Chinese interest as Beijing seeks to diversify its investments in the region. Morocco’s rise in popularity can be traced to King Mohammed VI’s visit to China in 2016, a trip which is credited with jump-starting bilateral ties: Morocco now boasts three Confucius Institutes.

China and Morocco’s shared stances on non-intervention make them compatible partners, as does the fact that Morocco has not been overly critical of China, despite being a Major Non-NATO ally of the United States. China’s refusal to comment on the Western Sahara issue (a contested region claimed by Morocco) meshes nicely with Morocco’s silence on China’s actions towards its Muslim population in Xinjiang. While some Moroccans bemoan the plight of their co-religionists in China, Rabat has not openly voiced these concerns. Likewise, by refraining from commenting on the Western Sahara issue, China distinguishes itself from other external partners like the AU, EU and U.S which have all raised concerns about Moroccan actions in the region.

Alongside mutual non-interference, Morocco is also increasingly benefiting from Chinese efforts to diversify its foreign investment, especially regarding technology and tourism.Morocco is also becoming the default investment destination in North Africa, as the region continues to be unstable, with Morocco reaping the benefits of stability. Moreover, growing anti-Chinese sentiment in more established China-Africa relationships is also leading China to diversify its investment portfolio to hedge against anti-Chinese protests and backlashes that threaten existing investments. To this end Casablanca will be hosting the China-Morocco Trade Week in December 2017.

China on a spending spree in Morocco

Alongside traditional exports to China such as phosphates, Morocco is seeing a tidal wave of Chinese investment in a host of sectors.  Between 2011 and 2015 Chinese FDI in Morocco increased 195%, with a 93% increase between 2014 and 2015 alone. Since then things have only continued to accelerate. The Chinese-built 952 metre King Mohammed VI bridge (itself part of the 42 km Rabat motorway bypass expansion) was opened in July and in November 2016, China’s Chint Group Corp was chosen to construct a 170MW solar plant. Furthermore, Moroccan authorities met with China Railway in December to discuss the construction of a multi-billion, high-speed rail link between Marrakesh and Agadir.

Sino-Moroccan fusion: Vogue China July 2014

The Bank of China opened an office in Casablanca in March 2016 as part of Morocco’s Casablanca Finance City initiative.Similarly, Yangtse Automobile has announced a $100 million investment (expected to create 2,000 jobs) in Tangier to produce electric cars and buses for export to Europe, citing Morocco’s location as an asset in boosting exports to Europe while also shortening supply chains. Tangier is also the location of Morocco’s ambitious $10 billion Tangier technology hub project. Aided by a $1 billion investment from China’s HAITE Group, the project aims to build a smart city with 300,000 residents and provide 100,000 jobs in order to create a new technology and manufacturing hub near Tangier. The project is expected to attract investment from some 200 foreign companies, many of them Chinese.

Another growth market are citrus exports to China. As the third largest citrus exporter, Morocco has needed to seek out new markets in the wake of Russia’s agriculture import ban, with China a perfect candidate. The first batch of high-end Moroccan citrus exports set out for Shanghai in November. Copag – Morocco’s largest citrus producer – has partnered with Chengdu’s Bideng Trade Co.to sell Moroccan fruit in China. The growing demand for foreign food in China – spurred by rising incomes and health concerns regarding Chinese produce – provides an excellent opportunity. Given Morocco’s existing integration into EU food supply chains, Rabat is already beholden to high quality standards, a fact that appeal to many Chinese consumers. Indeed Chinese importers have cited Morocco’s ability to pass the EU Proficiency Test for Pesticide Residues as a seal of confidence.

Indeed China’s interest in all things Moroccan has even seen the African country begin to export donkeys to meet the demand of China’s traditional medicine market. China is importing more than 80,000 donkeys (and growing) from across Africa to supply hide and gelatin for traditional medicines, as Beijing’s annual consumption of 1.8 million animals remains insufficient.

Moroccan tourism and culture take China by storm

Alongside manufacturing and other investments, the most explosive growth has been in the tourism sector. Even before Rabat’s decision to drop visa requirements for Chinese visitors in July 2016, Ctrip as part of the 2016 National Day Travel Prediction Report predicted a 3500% increase in visa applications to Morocco. As a result by November 2016, Morocco saw a sixfold increase in Chinese arrivals – a fact all the more impressive given that no direct flights exist between the two countries. With 42,000 Chinese tourists in 2016 – a 300% year-on-year increase from 2015 – Morocco has announced a goal of 100,000 visitors from the Middle Kingdom in 2017. As a result, Chinese investors from Guangzhou met with the Moroccan Society of Tourist Engineering in late February to discuss investments in hotels, resorts, spas and amusement parks.

All this comes as China’s government-run Global Times declared Morocco the best potential destination for 2017, based on visa procedures, tourist flows, and tourist satisfaction. This has resulted in Morocco becoming a trending topic on Weibo, with photos of the North African country especially popular. This trend has been fostered by a partnership between Morocco and Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi, whose team travelled to Morocco to snap promotional photos for its latest smartphone. Morocco has become the star model to showcase the 23 mega-pixel camera on Xiaomi’s M1 Note 2 smartphone. Photos of Morocco were prominently featured during Xiaomi’s November launch conference for the M1 Note 2. An added bonus for Morocco is that Xiaomi is providing the photos for free as pre-installed content on its phones, thus introducing Morocco to tens of millions of Chinese consumers.

Morocco was also a star attraction at the Beijing International Book Fair in August, marking Morocco’s second consecutive appearance at the event. On the other hand,The Donor by Chinese director Zang Qiwu won the top prize at the 2016 Marrakech Film Festival in December. The amount of hype surrounding China-Morocco relations and cultural exchanges has even led to the spread of fake news, with Chinese media incorrectly reporting that author Liu Zhenyun had won a popular Moroccan literary prize. This was no mere typo, as the alleged prize does not even exist, with Chinese officials having to debunk the story.

Whether this was an orchestrated effort to reinforce the trending China-Morocco narrative that backfired, or simply a viral rumour sparked by an excited netizen, it demonstrates that Morocco is clearly top of mind in China.

Under the Radar uncovers political risk events around the world overlooked by mainstream media. By detecting hidden risks, we keep you ahead of the pack and ready for new opportunities.

Under the Radar is written by Senior Analyst Jeremy Luedi.

New Morocco Premier Forms Six-Party Coalition To End Deadlock

Western Sahara Worldnews - Sun, 03/26/2017 - 15:25

Bloomberg
by Tarek El-Tablawy

Morocco’s new prime minister-designate formed a governing coalition, ending a five-month impasse that has paralyzed decision-making and strained the economy.

After barely a week in office, Saaddine El-Otmani of the moderate Islamist Justice and Development Party told reporters late Saturday that he will lead a coalition of six parties including partners his predecessor, Abdelilah Benkirane, had refused toinclude. High on the new government’s agenda will be “improving the quality of government services, education, health care, creating job opportunities, and fighting corruption,” El-Otmani said.

Benkirane’s inability to form a coalition after October elections produced no clear-cut winner forced King Mohamed VI to take the rare step of intervening to fire him this month. El-Otmani, a former foreign minister, was selected to replace Benkirane two days later.

At least 11 members of the outgoing 39-member cabinet resigned when they were elected to parliament in October. Over the last five months, their positions were mostly vacant, although some were filled on an interim basis by other sitting ministers. Many critical portfolios, including defense, interior and religious affairs, are currently headed by officials unaffiliated with political parties who were handpicked by the monarch.

The failure to seat a government has prevented the passage of a new budget and hampered government programs to counter religious radicalization of the country’s youth, a key challenge across North Africa.

Mediterranean Film Festival Kicks Off In Morocco As Chinese Films Shine

Western Sahara Worldnews - Sun, 03/26/2017 - 11:46

Xinhuanet
Source: Xinhua

The 23rd edition of the International Mediterranean Film Festival opened on Saturday in Morocco’s northern city of Tetouan, with China as the guest of honor.

The festival, which runs until April 2, will screen numerous Chinese movies reflecting various areas of China’s film industry.

Among the movies, which will be screened during the festival, there are Wu Ershan’s movie “Mojin: The Lost Legend,” Dante Lam’s “Operation Mekong”, Xu Haofeng’s “The Master” and Cao Baoping’s “The Dead End”.

“In the past few editions, the festival has opened up to countries outside of the Mediterranean region. We hosted the Iranian, Mexican and Chilean movies and today we chose China,” the Director of the festival Ahmed EL Housni told Xinhua.

He stressed that the Chinese film-making has distinguished itself in recent years as one of the leading industry the world, adding that the festival aims to present this experience to wider Moroccan public.

Honoring Chinese cinema in the festival is another facet of the friendly bilateral relationship, he said, adding that ties between China and Morocco have witnessed a significant progress both economically and culturally.

The official competition of the festival includes 24 films from 15 Mediterranean countries, including 12 feature films and 12 documentary films.

The feature films will be contesting for the Grand Prix Tamouda d’or, whereas the documentary films will be competing for the Tetouan Grand Prix for documentary films.

The jury of the feature films will be presided by the Egyptian director Yousry Nasrallah, while the documentary jury will be headed by French screen writer Thomas Bauer.

Established in 1985, the Tetouan International Film Festival focuses on the promotion of films from Mediterranean countries, and it is gaining influence as a major project in Morocco.

Business Brief: Morocco and China Ink Pact to Build New City; Banking Sector Continues Strong Showing – Jean R. AbiNader

Morocco on the move - Fri, 03/24/2017 - 15:42

Jean R. AbiNader, MATIC
March 24, 2017

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

Building on King Mohammed VI’s 2016 trip to China, plans were announced for a major co-investment in an industrial city in the north of the kingdom that will provide jobs and development in the region. The Central Bank continued its conservative, and successful, management of interest rates as inflation, the national budget deficit, and the trade deficit are projected to rise slightly in 2017. Attijarawafa Bank was named African bank of the year by yet another business organization.

China Comes a Knocking. Repeating its formula for yet another successful foray into an African economy, China has agreed to form a joint enterprise with Morocco to develop an industrial and technology park, hosting hundreds of Chinese companies, to support manufacturing centers in the Tanger region. Chinese companies have previously been active in infrastructure projects such as the suspension bridge linking Rabat and Sale, among the largest of its kind in Africa. Of course, these parks also serve as zones for importing Chinese consumer electronics, textiles, parts, and housewares for sale in the local economy.

The principal partners are the Chinese aviation group Haite, BMCE’s Bank of Africa, and the government of Morocco represented by the Tanger-Tetouan-Al Hoceima regional authorities. The initial agreement calls for $1B investment annually for 10 years. The city, called “The Mohammed VI Tanger Tech City,” represents a significant escalation in Moroccan-Chinese relations. It will cover 2,000 hectares (approximately 5,600 acres) with a target of 300,000 inhabitants and a workforce of 100,000 drawn from the surrounding area.

The signing of the MOU, presided over by the King, took place in the Marchane Royal Palace in Tanger with presentations made by Moulay Hafid elAlamy, the acting Minister of Trade, Investment, and the Digital Economy, and Li Biao, President of the Haite Group. Mr. Biao noted that “the park will host hundreds of Chinese companies in numerous industrial zones including auto manufacturing, aerospace, aviation spare parts, electronic information, textiles and machinery manufacturing.” Minister elAlamy pointed out that Tanger was selected by the Chinese as a “competitive platform” for its regional center for manufacturing and distribution of its products, and that work would start in the second half of 2017.

For its part, the government of Morocco will continue its economic development projects in the north, including the high speed train scheduled to begin service within the next year, expansion of the free trade zones around TangerMed Port, and additional excavation of the deepwater harbor facilities. Minister elAlamy said that these investments will attract hundreds of multinational companies in addition to the Chinese companies financing the industrial city.

Financial Indicators are Steady.  According to a report by NASDAQ, the Central Bank of Morocco, Bank Al-Maghrib, has positive economic projections for 2017, even as some indicators such as inflation and the balance of payments are slightly more negative. With a strong agricultural growing season, overall growth is pegged to increase by 4.3% and inflation will level off after a slight rise in the first quarter. Agriculture’s GDP contribution is expected to rise from 9.6% in 2016 to 15% this year. While this is good news for 2017, overall growth is expected to decline in 2018 as the price of phosphates remains low.

While inflation increased from 1.6% to 2.1% earlier this year, it is expected to drop to 1.1% later this year as the government is able to cut energy imports and subsidies and agricultural prices fall. The country’s budget deficit will reach 3.7% of GDP in 2017 before a slight decrease to 3.4% in 2018. Even though the trade deficit reached 18.2%, this still represents only 2.2% of GDP. Much of this is due to the decline in the price of phosphates, resulting in a 3.3% trade deficit. Overall, the news is good: the economy is steady and performing soundly resulting in controlled inflation, minimal increases in the trade deficit, and a more-than-manageable budget deficit.

Attijariwafa Bank continued its impressive role as a leading bank in Africa, garnering the “African Bank of the Year” award at the Africa CEO Forum. It is Africa’s fourth largest bank, operating in 24 countries with more than 7M clients and 16,000 employees. According to its website, the Forum provides a multinational platform for CEOs of African and international companies, financial specialists, investors, bankers, thought-leaders, and public sector leaders to exchange information and develop projects in Africa and internationally, and develop strategies to address the economic and industrial challenges facing the continent.

The post Business Brief: Morocco and China Ink Pact to Build New City; Banking Sector Continues Strong Showing – Jean R. AbiNader appeared first on Morocco On The Move.

Categories: The moroccan press

Nigeria, Morocco Fertilizer Pact Creates 50,000 Jobs

Western Sahara Worldnews - Fri, 03/24/2017 - 13:58

Sun News Nigeria
From Uche Usim, Magnus Eze, Abuja and Adewale Sanyaolu

Nigeria’s stride to achieve self-sufficiency in phosphate supply received the needed boost recently as about 50,000 jobs have been created in the country through the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Morocco.

Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Dr. Maikanti Baru, disclosed this yesterday, while receiving the National Coordinator of the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD-Nigeria), Princess Gloria Akobundu, at the NNPC Towers.

Baru, who noted that the MoU between the two countries was for the supply of phosphate to rejuvenate agriculture by making fertiliser available and affordable, confirmed the deal has started yielding positive results in the country.

“The Moroccans have already supplied a cargo of phosphate, which has been delivered to various blending plants across the country. Already, 11 blending plants have come into production because of the supply.

“I am happy to inform you that this development has translated to the creation of about 50,000 jobs and led to the production of about 1.3 million tonnes of fertiliser in the country,” Baru stated.

Following the arrival of the first consignment, the Moroccans have also given Nigeria a generous credit term of 90 days and are planning to bring in more cargoes that will fit the various blending plants in the country, Baru added.

According to the GMD, aside being a huge boost to the Nigerian agricultural sector and the economy, this partnership is expected to boost bilateral relationship between the two countries, in line with NEPAD’s objective of championing regional economic partnerships and integration.

Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the appointment of an interim Managing Director/CEO and four Executive Directors for the Bank of Agriculture (BOA ).

A statement by Deputy Director of Information, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mrs. Blessing Lere-Adams, named Mr. Kabiru Mohammed (North West) as Managing Director/CEO, while Prince A. Akenzua (South South) and Dr. Okenwa Gabriel (South East) are executive directors of Corporate Finance, Partnerships and Strategy respectively.

Others are Mr. Ameh Owoicho (North Central) and Mr. Bode Abikoye (South West), both executive directors of Credit and Empowerment.

Lere-Adams said the appointment was as a result of the Federal Government’s resolve to reposition BOA to be a more efficient and result oriented institution.

According to the statement, “The strategic repositioning of BOA will enhance farmers easy accessibility to agricultural funds that will be profitable for large and local farmers hoping to expand their farms”, adding that availability of funds will no doubt increase food production which will eventually result in self sufficiency.

The GMD observed that NEPAD’s visit coincided with NNPC’s journey towards becoming a commercially-viable world-class oil and gas company hinged on the principle of transparency, openness and accountability.

He further noted that the corporation, under the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, has taken some far-reaching measures to address some of its challenges, created largely due to low commodity prices.

Baru also assured the delegation that the Trans-Saharan Gas Pipeline Project (TSGP), on which NNPC has had engagement with NEPAD in the past, is still on track and the corporation would ensure continued collaboration towards the success of the project.

Earlier in her remarks, the National Coordinator, NEPAD-Nigeria, Princess Gloria Akobundu, stated that they were at the NNPC to seek for areas of collaboration with the corporation, especially in their quest to promote regional integration on the continent.

“As NEPAD, we are mandated to identify and work with strategic partners to facilitate, monitor and promote the implementation of developmental projects across the continent,” she stated.

Also on NEPAD’s entourage was the Director General of the Infrastructure Concession and Regulatory Commission (ICRC), Alhaji Aminu Dikko, who explained that the TSGP is a very crucial project that will further boost regional integration of Africans.

First Cargo Of Fertilizer Arrives From Morocco – NNPC

Western Sahara Worldnews - Fri, 03/24/2017 - 07:00

Daily Trust
By Daniel Adugbo

The first consignment of fertilizer from Morocco has arrived Nigeria, even as more cargoes that will fit the various blending plants are on the way, the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Dr. Maikanti Kacalla Baru has said.

Speaking yesterday while receiving the National Coordinator of the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD-Nigeria), Princess Gloria Akobundu, at the NNPC Towers, Baru said the Moroccan government has agreed to offer Nigeria 90 days grace period to pay.

These developments come following the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the supply of phosphate between the Nigerian and Moroccan governments which has seen about 50, 000 jobs created.

A statement from the NNPC said that the MoU between the two countries was for the supply of phosphate to rejuvenate agriculture by making fertilizer available and affordable, confirmed that the deal has started yielding positive results in the country.

Baru said: “The Moroccans have already supplied a cargo of phosphate which has been delivered to various blending plants across the country. Already, eleven blending plants have come into production because of the supply.

According to the GMD, aside being a huge boost to the Nigerian agricultural sector and the economy, the partnership is expected to boost bilateral relationship between the two countries, in line with NEPAD’s objective of championing regional economic partnerships and integration.

Earlier in her remarks, the National Coordinator, NEPAD-Nigeria, Princess Gloria Akobundu stated that they were in the NNPC to seek for areas of collaboration with the Corporation especially in their quest to promote regional integration on the continent.

“As NEPAD, we are mandated to identify and work with strategic partners to facilitate, monitor and promote the implementation of developmental projects across the continent,” she stated.

Morocco, Longtime US Counterterrorism Ally, Attends Anti-ISIS Coalition Meeting in Washington

Morocco on the move - Thu, 03/23/2017 - 23:00

Washington, DC, March 23, 2017, Moroccan American Center for Policy (MACP) — Nasser Bourita, Morocco’s Minister Delegate of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, was in Washington yesterday for a meeting of the Ministers of the anti-ISIS Global Coalition, convened by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to “review and accelerate the campaign for the lasting defeat of ISIS.” Morocco was the first Maghreb country to join the coalition, and was designated a non-NATO ally by President George W. Bush in 2004.

“Together, we share a resolve to deal ISIS or Daesh a lasting defeat,” said Secretary Tillerson in his remarks. “Our coalition is united in stopping an ISIS resurgence, halting its global ambitions and discrediting its ideological narrative. And we’re ready to grow stronger and stay aggressive in this battle.”

Secretary Tillerson outlined four countermeasures to “stay ahead of” ISIS: persisting “with in-country counterterrorism and law enforcement operations”; “greater intelligence and information sharing within our own domestic intelligence agencies and among our nations”; combating “a warped interpretation of Islam”; and breaking “ISIS’s ability to spread its messages and recruit new followers online.”

The countermeasures shared by Secretary Tillerson reflect the many ways Morocco has sought to tackle extremism and the threat of terrorism over the past few years. In May 2015, the country strengthened its counterterrorism operations by creating the Central Bureau of Judicial Investigation to bring different elements of the security sector under a central institution. That same year, Morocco’s Parliament enacted laws to criminalize “joining, or attempting to join a terrorist group; receiving terrorist training; and terrorist recruiting.” In addition to the anti-terrorist activities of its security forces, Morocco is taking steps to block terrorists’ access to financial resources and monitor religious organizations to ensure that donations are not used to finance terrorist activities.

Morocco has been a strong proponent of greater intelligence sharing and maintains close intelligence relations with the US and countries throughout Europe and the Middle East. Following the November 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris, Morocco provided the intelligence that enabled French police to locate the mastermind of the attacks and arrest a Belgian national with direct links to the Islamist gunmen and bombers.

Morocco has also been at the front lines of the ideological battle against religious extremism. Since the early 2000s, the country has reorganized its religious structures—upgrading mosques, publishing an official bulletin of imams, creating a Directorate of Religious Education within the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, training both men and women as religious preachers, among other steps—to protect against radicalization. In a scathing rebuke of Islamic extremism, King Mohammed VI said in a speech delivered to the nation in August 2016, “Those who engage in terrorism, in the name of Islam, are not Muslims… They have strayed from the right path, and their fate is to dwell forever in hell.”

“The meeting was an opportunity to highlight the vision of His Majesty the King to fight the terrorist threat,” said Minister Bourita. “It is a multidimensional approach that includes preventive and repressive aspects.”

Representatives from all 68 member countries and organizations attended the meeting; from North Africa, Minister Bourita was joined by representatives from Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia.

###

 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 Morocco, Longtime US Counterterrorism Ally, Attends Anti-ISIS Coalition Meeting in Washington appeared first on Morocco On The Move.

Categories: The moroccan press

Italy And Morocco Focused Gas Exploration Group Sound Energy Making Rapid Progress With Latest Well

Western Sahara Worldnews - Thu, 03/23/2017 - 20:54

Proactive Investors
Ian Lyall

The drill bit at Badile, near Milan, has reached the second casing point at 1,407 metres less than a month after work began.

Getting there – the well will be drilled to 4,445 metres.

Sound Energy PLC (LON:SOU) is making rapid progress on two fronts having completed drilling in Morocco and made significant headway in Italy.

The former first: Its TE-8 well has reached a vertical depth 3,066 metres, taking it 359 metres into the Paleozoic formation, which is a new horizon for Sound.

It has already identified gas in the TAGI formation above. “The company confirms that it has observed further gas shows during subsequent drilling operations, but cautions that logging has not yet occurred and that gas shows, although a positive initial indication, should not be considered conclusive without further wireline logging and analysis,” the company said.

At its Badile gas well, near Milan, has reached the second casing point at 1,407 metres less than a month after work began.

The next casing point is at 2,600 metres – more than halfway to the planned target depth of 4,445 metres. Drilling and logging are expected to take 100 days.

WATCH: Proactive correspondent on Sound drilling …

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

To date the company has scored significant success at Tendrara, in Morocco, where it has discovered significant accumulations of potentially commercial gas.

However, 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 could be a changer for this portion of the portfolio. 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.

Morocco Continues Local and African Leadership on the Environment – Jean R. AbiNader

Morocco on the move - Thu, 03/23/2017 - 17:26

Jean R. AbiNader, MATIC
March 23, 2017

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

While some may question the durability of commitments made at COP22 and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, there is no doubt that Morocco takes these responsibilities seriously. Recent news coverage on two development projects indicate that Morocco is all about the business of building a better future for itself and for Africa.

Two articles reported the latest developments in Zenata Eco-City, located between Casablanca and Rabat. When announced in 2012, Zenata was to be the pilot for a number of new cities planned by Morocco to relieve the urban overcrowding that is continuing at an accelerating pace. By 2030, urban populations in Africa are expected to increase by 15% and it’s worse in densely populated cities like Casablanca, where overcrowding leads to poor health and environmental outcomes, not to mention pockets of poverty and inadequate social services.

Aside from its famous IKEA, which opened in March 2016, Zenata boasts several locally designed and developed urban spaces featuring open land, apartment buildings with recreational areas for young people, a community mosque, as well as shops and transportation. The city, planned for 300,000 inhabitants, is growing based on a master plan that focuses on public utilities, air quality, ease of movement, and jobs. According to a story by Devex (“the media platform for the global community”), they key for the government is that planning be done with heavy local input and stress three development pillars: environmental, social, and economic sustainability.

Additional information, provided by Dr. Zakia Belhachmi, a senior international development advisor, pointed out that “Prior to its recent development as an eco-city, it was home to nearly 40,000 people living in slums whose inhabitants were relocated to temporary housing in apartments nearby as part of the region’s urban master plan. Zenata not only maximizes the use of natural resources of the city, but is also allocating 30% of the first phase as a ‘green space’ and a central park conceived to promote biodiversity.”

Dr. Belhachmi raises critical questions about whether the education system in these new cities will incorporate the concept of sustainability in its curricula and about the role of parent-teacher associations. “After all, new modes of living involving a transition from slums into an eco-city are educational at their core simply because of the sustainable principles involved. Development in this context includes a socialization process that addresses the mind-set of the people not just their physical habitat.”

Congo Receives Attention

Further afield, a direct outcome of COP22 was the recent signing in Congo of a “Congo Basin Blue Fund.” The UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) says that the “Blue economy concerns all water bodies, including lakes, watercourses and groundwater, not forgetting seas and coasts. The main economic activity domains of Africa based on marine and aquatic resources include fishing, fish farming, tourism, transport, the port sector, mining and energy.”

The Congo Basin Blue Fund was one of the three priorities raised by King Mohammed VI at the Africa Action Summit held during COP22. One of the major concerns is the deforestation in the Congo Basin forests, which are second only to the Amazon Basin as a natural carbon storage system. This is a joint project of the Brazzaville Foundation and nine countries, including Morocco, which participated in the signing of an MOU this month to formally launch the fund.

According to several sources, “The fund will finance projects in river transport, dredging and infrastructure, renewable energy, irrigation, fishing and ecotourism to foster sustainable industries based on the Congo’s renewable resources.” Given Morocco’s commitment to advancing its own water management as well as its outreach to share with African countries valuable expertise on renewable energy, agriculture, and fisheries, it is not surprising that it has joined this group.

Next steps include tapping climate change financing facilities such as the one raised by the World Bank and Morocco, and attracting funding from other international agencies, investors, and philanthropic organizations.

Cécilia Attias, member of the Brazzaville Foundation, commented that the fund “marks a huge step forward in delivering economic and environmental sustainability to the Congo Basin and surrounding communities. We are delighted by the support of these nine nations who have united in peaceful cooperation on this vital mission.”

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