The moroccan press
Morocco parliament launched on Tuesday a Moroccan-Chinese friendship group, aiming at promoting joint actions between legislative branches in the two countries.
The speaker of Morocco’s House of Representatives Habib El Malki announced the establishment of the group, saying that the movement would contribute to fostering bilateral cooperation between the two countries, according to an official statement.
El Malki met with Chinese Ambassador to Morocco Sun Shuzhong, and underscored parliamentary diplomacy in consolidating bilateral ties, which were cemented by the Moroccan king Mohammed VI’s visit to China in May 2016.
He also hailed China’s leadership in the world, calling for a tripartite partnership among Morocco, China and Africa to speed up development in the continent.
Nearly 30 years after its 1989 founding, the AMU is still unable to further its initial mission – to build economic cooperation among its member countries: Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, and Tunisia — let alone move towards greater integration of its transportation, communications, and energy sectors. While analysts point to the political tensions between members over issues such as the Western Sahara, migration, and regional leadership on counterterrorism efforts, lack of progress on the economic front is of particular concern.
In his recent speech at the Annual Heads of State Summit of the African Union (AU), King Mohammed VI lamented the failure of the AMU to promote economic and social progress in North Africa. “It is however clear that the flame of the Arab Maghreb Union has faded, because faith in a common interest has vanished! …Today, we regret to see that the Maghreb Union is the least integrated region in the African continent, if not in the whole world.”
The King then went on to note the lack of trade among the partner countries, especially in comparison to other sub-regions in Africa. “If we do not act, by following the example of neighboring African sub-regions, the Maghreb Union will crumble in its chronic incapacity to live up to the ambitions of the Marrakesh Treaty, which gave birth to it 28 years ago.”
Since there is very little reason to be optimistic about the future of the AMU, it is only natural, according to the King, that Morocco prioritizes its relations with sub-Saharan Africa, with which it has signed, since 2000, some 949 bilateral agreements covering a broad spectrum of programs, from finance and tourism to education, energy, training, power, housing, and agriculture.
To appreciate the King’s perspective, it is worth considering the economic status and structural weaknesses of the other members of the AMU that inhibit economic cooperation and collaboration on transnational projects. For the most part, there is little utility to looking at member-states Libya and Mauritania — the former non-functioning as a national entity, and the latter at a low level of development outside of its capital. Libya relies primarily on sporadic hydrocarbon exports to fund its partially functioning ministries and faces deep-seated challenges to its reintegration as a country. Mauritania has overcome previous political instability and is now embarking on a modernization program but lags behind Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco on most human development indicators.
Tunisia, struggling to meet the expectations of being the first successful example of the Arab Spring, has recently announced a series of measures to attract foreign investment at an ambitious international investors conference. The US was criticized for not sending a high-level delegation, and the reality is that Tunisia has many challenges in place before it can be considered on a par with Morocco in terms of projects and regulations that support a fully functioning investment regime. Also, Tunisia has less than a third of Algeria’s or Morocco’s population, a critical factor in growing domestic markets.
Algeria, with a large land mass, extensive hydrocarbon resources and reserves, a dynamic urban population, with a population of 39 million compared to Morocco’s 33 million, could and should be an economic powerhouse but continues to woefully underperform across the board.
With the dramatic fall it oil prices, it must draw down foreign reserves to support its budget. Algeria can no longer be assured of a capacity to spend without a negative effect on Algeria’s future. According to Reuters, “Oil and gas earnings, which make up 94 percent of total exports and 60 percent of the state budget, fell to $18.8 billion in the first nine months of 2016, down 26.3 percent from the same period a year earlier.”
This rentier economy has been further unsettled by measures put in place earlier this year, including cuts to subsidies, restrictions on imports, new taxes, and currency controls. Currency controls are of growing concern because the gap between the official exchange rate and the black market promotes the growth of inflation, smuggling, and hoarding of circumscribed imports.
According to European sources, additional measures taken since the initial announcements late last fall have not reduced the impact of the informal financial market. In fact, government attempts to raise funds pegged at the official rate have fueled currency speculation, leading to a 10% loss in the value of the Algerian dinar. It is feared that the planned introduction of Islamic banking, which prohibits lending under conditions that require interest payments, may do little to offset the decline of the dinar.
In addition, Newsweek reported last week that the economic situation in Algeria mirrors the stagnation in its political sphere. The article started ominously, “Since the conclusion of its bloody civil war two decades ago, Algeria has been shrouded in secrecy and suspended in motion. Supported by huge oil wealth, the country’s triumvirate—the presidency, the intelligence services (DRS) and the army—has been able to maintain stability.” For a country with a high birth rate, high income inequality, a highly regulated and privileged private sector, and little initiative to open its economic sphere to greater flexibility and less corruption, it is no wonder that the Algeria is unable to make a significant contribution to enabling the AMU to achieve its stated mission of closer economic and social integration.
Furthermore, according to an AEI policy blog, Algeria’s weaknesses hold grave security implications for the EU and the US. If it is unable in execute much needed reforms, it may give openings for terrorist organizations to destabilize the country, its gas supplies to Europe, and the safely of foreign investments in the country. Although this may be a remote probability at the present time, Algeria’s lack of an effective reform regime has an impact on the other members of the AMU in their capacity to develop strategies for go-it-alone economic growth. It drives away potential investors and partners that are looking at the likely regional impact of even more instability in Algeria – the largest member of the AMU.
Given the continued challenges to the AMU in the coming decade, Morocco will maintain its presence in the regional grouping while seeking its future more proactively in strengthening ties across the continent, as the King continues his economic diplomacy.
The post What’s Wrong with the Arab Maghreb Union (AMU)? – Jean R. AbiNader appeared first on Morocco On The Move.
by Ali Haidar
Algerian rulers and the Polisario leaders are caught short by the diplomatic and economic offensive Morocco is staging on the African chessboard, at the initiative of King Mohammed VI.
After he consolidated the standing of his Kingdom in French-speaking Africa and after his country’s triumphant readmission within the African Union (AU), Mohammed VI adopted a very subtle approach of unprecedented rapprochement with English-speaking African countries.
Through this large-scale approach, the Moroccan sovereign seems determined to tackle the problem at its roots, since the pseudo Sahrawi republic “RASD” was created on African soil, in Algeria, and since it is in Africa that the Polisario has most of its supporters.
It is in this context that King Mohammed VI began on Sunday (Feb.19) an official visit to Zambia, which was preceded by similar visits to South Sudan and Ghana. Trips to at least three other African countries are on the King’s schedule.
It is worth mentioning that Ghana and Zambia, both from Anglophone Africa, have long shown hostility to Morocco’s sovereignty, but were among the 28 countries that signed a motion, addressed to the African Union President on 18 July 2016, calling for the suspension of SADR from the continental organization.
It is also worth recalling that the somewhat dubious relationships between the regimes of Algiers and Pretoria have for a long time transformed Anglophone Africa into a preserve of Algeria, that it used in its fierce diplomatic battle against its Moroccan neighbor over Western Sahara.
By ending the policy of the empty chair within the pan-African organization, Mohammed VI showed determination to cast a wide net in Africa, without excluding the few pro-Polisario countries.
No need to say that Morocco has generously extended its hand to African countries for a solidarity-based cooperation and a win-win partnership, while Algeria, with the hydrocarbon sector providing 90% of public revenues, has nothing to offer to the continent, now that it was brought to its knees by the collapse of oil & gas prices.
Morocco's net international reserves amounted to 252.7 billion dirhams until February 10, 2016, recording a 9.3 pc year-on-year increase, Bank Al-Maghrib said.
During the week of February 9-15, 2016, Bank Al-Maghrib injected 14.5 billion dirhams.
As for the interbank rate, it remained at 2.26%, while the average trading volume decreased from 4.2 billion dirhams one week before to 3.8 billion dirhams, the central bank pointed out in its weekly indicators.
Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy described, on Monday in Malaga (south), as excellent the cooperation between Morocco and Spain concerning the fight against illegal immigration.
Cooperation between Morocco and Spain in this area is excellent and I want to publicly thank the Kingdom given that it is beneficial for the Moroccan, Spanish and European citizens, he said at a joint press conference with French president François Hollande following the 25th French-Spanish summit.
Moroccan-Zambian Agreements, Strong Signal of New Momentum in Bilateral Ties, FM
The 19 agreements, which were inked on Monday in Lusaka under the chairmanship of HM King Mohammed VI and President of the Republic of Zambia, H.E. Edgar Chagwa Lungu, are a strong signal of the new momentum given to relations between Morocco and Zambia, said foreign minister Salaheddine Mezouar.
HM King's Visit to Ghana to Give New Impetus to Moroccan-Ghanaian Ties (FM)
The official visit of HM King Mohammed VI to the Republic of Ghana will give new impetus to Moroccan-Ghanaian relations, Foreign Minister Salaheddine Mezouar.
Marrakesh, nicknamed the Ochre City for the walls surrounding its old medina district, clinched the top ranking in the top 10 African cities for quality of life.
Paris (AFP) – Four Moroccan cities, led by Marrakesh, ranked among the top 10 African cities for quality of life in a new survey published Tuesday.
Marrakesh, nicknamed the Ochre City for the walls surrounding its old medina district, clinched the top ranking, with three other Moroccan cities — Casablanca, Rabat and Fez — in the top 10.
TE-8 will be around 12 kilometres from the last successful hole and is what’s called a step out well because it will test the lateral extent of gas that has been discovered in the TAGI reservoir.
Sound Energy PLC (LON:SOU) has begun drilling its latest well on the Tendrara licence in Morocco.
TE-8 will be around 12 kilometres from the last successful hole and is what’s called a step out well because it will test the lateral extent of gas that has been discovered in the TAGI reservoir.
It will also for the first time assess the potential of the deeper-lying Paleozoic formation.
WATCH: Analyst tells us why this latest well really could be a ‘significant’.
Work began Sunday and is likely to take 40-50 days to complete with drilling going down to a vertical depth of 2,975 metres.
Assuming gas is encountered in the main well bore, a further 30-day side-track will be drilled to prove a potentially deeper gas contact 900 metres to the north-west, Sound said.
Whatever comes in the next two months, the firm has already enjoyed considerable success at Tendrara.
Results from TE-7 were revealed on January 19 with the company telling investors that over a 56 day period of continuous flow the well has yielded just under 1bn cubic feet of gas.
That figure is made all the more impressive given that the gas flow was constrained in test conditions, at a maximum of 40% drawdown, in order to protect the integrity of the well completion to date.
No formation water was produced during testing – as the company had expected – and there were no indications of barriers.
As such Sound said that the result had confirmed a “significant connected volume” of gas is present at Tendrara, and it would now monitor pressure across past wells to confirm the physical connectivity of the reservoir.
These results will all be valuable as it advances field development planning.
Last month the company announced a non-binding agreement to acquire all of Oil & Gas Investment Fund’s (OGIF) assets in Eastern Morocco – that includes 20% Tendrara, 75% of the Meridja project and a 75% stake in acreage close to Tendrara.
In return the AIM-quoted company offers OGIF some 272mln new Sound Energy shares, notionally worth nearly £200mln based on Sound’s present market price. It will mean that OGIF – a fund owned by seven Moroccan financial institutions – will own around 29% of Sound Energy’s enlarged share capital.
Sound said Monday the outline deal had crystalised into a binding agreement.
At 1.45pm, the shares were changing hands for 90p each – off around 3% for the day.
Sam Wahab, of City broker Cantor Fiztgerald, said: “We believe that Sound has sufficiently grown its acreage position to become a material player in Mediterranean gas.
“The company is benefitting from attractive and robust pricing fundamentals which have served to boost project economics. With a number of event driven catalysts on the horizon, supported by a robust financial position, and a funded 2017 drilling campaign, we see Sound’s current share price as representing a compelling entry point for investors.”
—adds broker comment and share price—
Washington, DC, February 20, 2017, Moroccan American Center for Policy (MACP) — George Washington, whose birthday is celebrated the third Monday in February as President’s Day—holds a special place in Morocco’s diplomatic history. During his presidency, Morocco became the first country to recognize the newly independent United States, when Sultan Sidi Mohammed Ben Abdullah announced in 1977 that “all vessels sailing under the American flag could freely enter Moroccan ports.” The Sultan sought to formalize this friendship and corresponded with President Washington and American diplomats over the next decade, eventually negotiating and signing the Moroccan-American Treaty of Friendship in 1786 (of which future presidents John Adams and Thomas Jefferson were signatories).
Since then, Morocco and the United States have maintained strong relations, with many exchanges recorded between top leadership, including letters, remarks, and more. To mark President’s Day and to honor the long and fruitful relationship between the United States and Morocco, we review just a few:
- In a December 1789 letter to Sultan Sidi Mohammed, President Washington wrote, “Within our Territories there are no Mines, either of Gold, or Silver, and this young Nation, just recovering from the Waste and Desolation of a long War, have not, as yet, had Time to acquire Riches by Agriculture and Commerce. But our Soil is bountiful, and our People industrious; and we have Reason to flatter ourselves, that we shall gradually become useful to our Friends…. It gives me Pleasure to have this Opportunity of assuring your Majesty that, while I remain at the Head of this Nation, I shall not cease to promote every Measure that may conduce to the Friendship and Harmony, which so happily subsist between your Empire and them…”
- In a letter to President Washington following the death of Sultan Sidi Mohammed, his son and successor Sultan Moulay Slimane, wrote, “… we are at peace, tranquility and friendship with you in the same manner as you were with our father who is in glory. Peace.” (He said to US Consul in Morocco James Simpson, “… the Americans, I find, are the Christian nation my father most esteemed … I am the same with them as my father was and I trust they will be so with me.”)
- In 1942, President Franklin Roosevelt sent Sultan Mohammed V a message stating “I have been highly pleased to learn of the admirable spirit of cooperation that is animating you and your people in their relationships … with the forces of my country.” The next year, President Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill convened in Morocco for the famed Casablanca Conference, during which the Allies planned their strategy for the remainder of the war.
- In November 1957, President Dwight D. Eisenhower welcomed Sultan Mohammed V to Washington, announcing at Washington National Airport, “Your Majesty, it is my great pleasure to speak for the American people in welcoming you to this land. It is a particular distinction that I have, because the records show that your nation was one of the very first, in the early days of our existence, to give us the encouragement and moral support of your recognition of us as a nation.” In his remarks, the Sultan said, “My desire has been realized today at the moment when my country has recovered its independence and is in a position to strengthen, by this visit, those ties of friendship which have bound our two peoples ever since the United States attained its freedom and became an independent nation.”
- In March 1963, on the occasion of an official visit from Morocco’s King Hassan II to Washington, President John F. Kennedy said, “This is the first spring that North Africa has found peace, and a good deal of the stability which we hope to and will find, I think, in North Africa will be due to His Majesty’s efforts. So I think we are fortunate to have him here. I think he knows he is very welcome. We value our old friends and we value, particularly, those that are seeking, under great difficulty, under great pressure, to find a position for their country which advances the welfare of their people, the stability of their area, and the peace of the world.”
- In May 1982, President Ronald Reagan remarked following meetings with King Hassan II in Washington, “King Hassan is the leader of a great nation at the crossroads of two continents, lying on NATO’s southern flank at the entrance to the Mediterranean. It has deep ties to Africa, Europe, the Middle East, and the whole Islamic world… I deeply value the depth of experience and breadth of vision that His Majesty brings to the issues of profound mutual concern… And I expressed to His Majesty the great value the United States places on cooperation with him and on friendship with Morocco, a country that stood with us at Our independence, fought at our side during the Second World War, and joins with us today in the quest for world peace and security.”
- In July 1999, on the death of King Hassan II, President Bill Clinton said, “Over his 38-year reign, King Hassan II demonstrated time and again his leadership, his courage, and his willingness to embrace change. He worked tirelessly to promote the welfare of his people, and in recent years he took important steps to deepen freedom in his country. He offered wise counsel to every U.S. President since John F. Kennedy. He worked to break down barriers among the peoples of the Middle East, bravely opening a dialog with Israel, helping to arrange President Sadat’s historic journey to Jerusalem, seeking greater tolerance and stability across the region.”
- In April 2002, President George W. Bush said in remarks following a meeting with King Mohammed VI, “No question that Morocco is a great friend of the United States of America, and for that, Your Majesty, we are very grateful. I appreciate your steadfast support when it comes to the war on terror. I appreciate your leadership in the region.” The President announced plans to broker a free trade agreement between the two countries—the first for the US with an African nation—that went into effect in 2006.
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 On President’s Day, the Long History of Morocco’s Kings and America’s Presidents appeared first on Morocco On The Move.
Social Dialogue has Endorsed Social Character of Morocco’s Constitutional Monarchy: HM the King
HM King Mohammed VI underlined that social dialogue, which has been adopted and institutionalized as a strategic option for Morocco, has endorsed the social character of the country’s constitutional monarchy.
UK — Sound Energy, the African and European focused upstream gas company, is pleased to confirm the commencement of drilling at the third Tendrara well, onshore Morocco.
Following the recent success at the Company’s first two Tendrara wells (TE-6 and TE-7), the Company’s third well (TE-8) was spud on Feb. 19, 2017. The TE-8 well is a step out appraisal well some 12 km northeast of TE-7, with the objective of proving up significant additional volumes in the TAGI (Trias Argilo-Gréseux Inférieur) reservoir whilst also, for the first time, drilling deeper into the Paleozoic formation.
The drilling and logging of the TE-8 main wellbore to a true vertical depth (TVD) of approximately 2975 m is expected to take approximately 40 to 50 days. Assuming gas is encountered in the main well bore, a further 30-day sidetrack will be drilled to a TVD of approximately 2633 m to prove a potentially deeper gas contact approximately 900 m to the northwest.
The Company looks forward to updating shareholders on achievement of each of the three casing points (13 3/8-in. casing at 450 m TVD, 12 ¼-in. casing at 2,070 m TVD and 7-in. casing at 2,587 m TVD) in the main wellbore and achievement of total depth.
Thanks to the enlightened vision of HM King Mohammed VI, Morocco displays a multidimensional policy and a strategy based on proactive and anticipatory actions in the fight against terrorism, Director of the Central Bureau for Judiciary Investigations (BCIJ), Abdelhak El Khayam, said.
Efforts made by Morocco and the experience gained in this field have enabled the Kingdom to become a model to follow, he added in an interview with the news site "Red Marruecos".
President of Australian Senate Calls for Strengthening Cooperation between Moroccan and Australian Parliaments
President of the Australian Senate, Stephen Parry, stressed on Thursday in Canberra the need to strengthen cooperation between the parliaments of Morocco and Australia through the exchange of visits and experiences.
During a meeting with Morocco’s ambassador to Australia, Karim Medrek, Parry expressed his interest in Morocco’s experience in good governance, tourism and the fight against terrorism, saying that an exchange of experiences in these fields could be beneficial to both countries.
Omar Hilale, the Permanent Representative of Morocco to the United Nations and the Chair of the Central African Republic Configuration of the Peacebuilding Commission, voiced on Wednesday concerns regarding the security situation in the Central African Republic.
Recent clashes in which hundreds were killed and thousands more displaced underscored the need to urgently address the security challenges, he stressed in his briefing to the UN Security Council.
by: Jamie Ashcroft
“Chariot will develop the drilling inventory on these permits through seismic acquisition which capitalises on the current excellent seismic contract rates,” says chief executive Larry Bottomley.
Chariot Oil & Gas Limited (LON:COPL) has expanded its interests offshore Morocco, snapping up an area close to upcoming drilling activity.
The AIM quoted explorer already owns a 10% stake in the Rabat Deep project, where partner ENI plans to drill an exploration well in 2018.
Preparing for the chance to follow up any success at Rabat Deep the company has now secured a 75% interest of a new adjoining area, which was previously part of the Rabat Deep project.
It was awarded the interest in the Kenitra Offshore Exploration Permit by Morocco’s Office National des Hydrocarbures et des Mines (ONHYM) which retains the other 25% of the project.
The untested Kenitra area also lies next to the Mohammedia Offshore Exploration Permits I-III, also 75% owned by Chariot, where seismic data gathered in 2014 shows exploration targets in shallow water (with resource potential up to 350mln barrels) as well as deeper prospects.
A new 3D seismic programme specifically assessing the Kenitra and Mohammedia areas is now planned, and will satisfy the minimum work commitments for the respective permits.
“This award allows us to capture the extension of the Lower Cretaceous play which spreads from Mohammedia into the Kenitra acreage,” said chief executive Larry Bottomley.
“With our focus on de-risking our assets, Chariot will develop the drilling inventory on these permits through seismic acquisition which capitalises on the current excellent seismic contract rates.
He added: “The RD-1 well scheduled to be drilled in early 2018 on Rabat Deep has the potential to further de-risk the hydrocarbon charge system in the Cretaceous play in Kenitra and Mohammedia which has prospectivity in excess of a billion barrels in which the Company holds 75% equity.”
Breathing In Morocco! Shanina Shaik Smokes Hookah And Visits Souk During Exotic High Fashion Shoot In Marrakesh
Daily Mail Australia
By Hannah Paine
In one photo shared to Instagram on Thursday, Shanina wears a leopard-print blouse and her hair in an elegant bun.
Exhaling smoke, the model poses with other women on a couch while holding a hookah pipe.
Speaker of the House of Representatives (Lower house), El Habib El Malki, held talks here on Wednesday with British ambassador to Morocco, Karen Betts.
Talks focused on the means to strengthen cooperation between the two countries, a statement from the lower house said, adding that El Malki called for the promotion of bilateral relations in all areas.
El Malki stressed that the return of Morocco to the African Union (AU) is an opportunity to develop economic cooperation between the two countries, as Morocco has become a platform for access to African markets.
International Fisheries Fair 'Halieutis', which focuses on fish farming and sea products, opened on Wednesday in Agadir, featuring during 5 days many exhibitions, meetings, conferences and workshops.
The event's fourth edition was launched off by agriculture minister Aziz Akhannouch, who was accompanied mainly by wali of Souss-Massa region Zineb El Adaoui, and European commissioner for environment, maritime affairs and fisheries Karmenu Vell.
Josh White Sharecast
Syria, Tunisia, Colombia and Morocco-focussed oil and gas company Gulfsands Petroleum announced on Wednesday that its subsidiary, Gulfsands Petroleum Morocco, had been awarded an extension to its Moulay Bouchta Petroleum Agreement, together with a revised work programme.
The AIM-traded firm had previously disclosed in its interim report that an agreement had been reached with Office National des Hydrocarbures et des Mines, subject to the usual government approvals and certain conditions precedent, to extend the duration of the initial phase of the exploration period at Moulay Bouchta from two years to three years.
On 8 November 2016, the group reported that all conditions precedent had been satisfied, and it was awaiting formal approval of the extension from the Moroccan authorities.
“The group confirms that all approvals have now been received, such that the extension has become effective,” Gulfsands’ board said on Wednesday.
As a result, the Initial Phase will now run to 19 June 2017, with a revised work programme for the extended Initial Phase consisting of the acquisition of 200 km 2D line seismic data, the reprocessing and interpretation of selected legacy 2D seismic data, and a legacy field study with the aim to identify any potential for re-activation.
“Consequently, the estimated cost of the work programme as specified in the amendment to the Petroleum Agreement has been reduced from $3.5m to $2.5m,” the board added.
Gulfsands Petroleum Morocco will immediately seek to begin the Environmental Impact Study in anticipation of commencing the seismic acquisition, it said.
The company was already in discussions with ONHYM to secure a further extension to allow additional time to complete the revised work programme.
“The work programme focusses on an oil prospective area identified to the east of the depleted Haricha oil field.
“Based on work performed to date, GPML has identified new lead concepts with gross recoverable prospective resources internally estimated at 149 mmbo,” the board explained.
“This estimate has not been subject to external audit.”
Gulfsands said it continued to be interested in identifying a farm-in partner for the Moulay Bouchta permit, with any parties interested invited to contact the group directly.