The moroccan press
The 3rd meeting of the working group in charge of economic cooperation between Morocco and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries opened, on Tuesday in Rabat, with the aim of examining means in favor of intensifying coordination related to economic and trade cooperation through the follow-up of the implementation of the joint action plan and the development of bilateral trade exchanges and investment opportunities.
Dam's storage capacity in Morocco reached 54.6% as of February 14, which is a total storage of 8.31 billion cubic meters (m3), according to the Department of Wat
This level is lower than the one reported during the same period in 2016, when the volume of water totaled about 9.3 billion cubic meters, which is a storage capacity of 60.8%, the same source added.
The department underlines the increase of water supplies in some dams compared to the same period last year, including Ibn Battouta (from 11.9% to 64.8%), El Kensra (from 44.7% to 71.8%) and Dkhila (from 52% to 96%).
An important Moroccan delegation, led by secretary general of the agriculture ministry Mohammed Sadiki, is taking part in Rome in the 40th session of the governing council of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), which kicked off on Tuesday.
The delegation also includes Morocco's ambassador to Italy Hassan Abouyoub as well as top officials from the departments of agriculture, finances and foreign affairs.
The opening ceremony of the two-day event was marked by a speech given by IFAD president Kanayo F. Nwanze whose second mandate will end on march 31.
Business Brief: Public-Private Partnership Launched to Promote Moroccan Business Start-ups Abroad; Initiatives Announced to Boost Construction and IT Sectors – Jean R. AbiNader
Faced with an anemic growth rate in 2016 of around 1.6% due to an 8% drop in agricultural output because of drought, Morocco expands its efforts to diversity its economy and generate options for new business development that will mirror the success of the auto industry, which, for the third year in a row, leads all export sectors. In response to increased interest from the overseas Moroccan community, more concrete efforts are being made to benefit from its expertise and resources to support the domestic economy. These efforts and much more demonstrate Morocco’s commitment to generating the economic expansion needed for job and income growth.
Expat Moroccans and Women Push for Business Opportunities. One of the constant features of Moroccans living abroad is their interest in being more engaged in the Moroccan economy. In the past, this usually meant investing in family housing or supporting the education of family members. With the increased business sophistication of Moroccans abroad, there has been a constant clamor over the past decade for a more proactive role in the economy. That will be facilitated by a new agreement between the largest private sector business organization CGEM, and the Ministry in charge of the affairs of overseas Moroccans.
The agreement provides for setting up a virtual 13th region of CGEM, one that is specifically geared towards the integration of Moroccan Entrepreneurs of the World (MEM) into the Moroccan economy. The core project involves the creation of a cloud-based platform to enable Moroccans in country and abroad to exchange experiences, best practices, expertise, and access to government programs that support entrepreneurs.
According to Minster for Moroccans Abroad Anis Birrou who signed the agreement with Miriem Bensalah Chaqroun, CEO of CGEM, “Nearly 60% of Moroccan entrepreneurs of the world want to invest in Morocco to accompany the dynamics of the Moroccan economy which offers great opportunities.” He noted that there are an estimated five million overseas Moroccans, including some 300,000 businesses.
Ms. Chaqroun noted in announcing the agreement that “This public-private partnership is in line with King Mohammed VI’s vision to bring together the Kingdom’s forces in order to encourage the emergence of the country through the creation of employment and wealth and the strengthening of the experiences and expertise exchange between Moroccans residing abroad and Moroccan entrepreneurs operating in the Kingdom.”
AFEM, the premier women’s business organization in Morocco, will hold its second South Economic Women’s Initiative (SEWI) conference in early March as part of World Women’s Day. The theme is “Entrepreneurship Tomorrow, the Keys to Success,” focusing on critical skills and resources that enable women-owned companies to succeed. SEWI 2017 enables attendees who come from Morocco, Europe, and Africa, opportunities to engage entrepreneurs, network, and exchange ideas about their experiences.
AFEM supports and works with women from diverse communities and backgrounds, enabling, assisting, and inspiring them to set up their own projects and perform as entrepreneurs. In addition, it aims to encourage equitable leadership by reinforcing the role of women in diverse decision-making positions.
IBM, Big 5 Launch Initiatives. Recognizing the enormous growth potential in Africa, projected to have the world’s largest workforce by 2040, IBM has committed $70 million for digital skills training for 25 million young Africans in the next five years. Morocco is one of the five countries targeted. Dubbed “IBM Digital-Nation Africa,” the project will utilize a cloud-based platform with programs ranging from basic IT literacy to advanced IT skills, including social media, cybersecurity, and enhanced privacy. The e-learning platform will use IBM’s Watson, the company’s cognitive system. It will analyze users’ profiles to formulate individualized training models, even adapting the educational content of the program to suit each user.
The program includes training in business skills such as innovation, critical thinking, and entrepreneurship. By providing skills and business training, IBM hopes to raise overall digital literacy, increase the number of skilled developers with the ability to access high-level programming, and enable them to build businesses around new platforms. According to IBM, “In order to find solutions to Africa’s challenges, industries across the spectrum need to enable the existing and future workforce to perform at the forefront of technologies such as cognitive and cloud computing. This will be the key to spurring economic growth.”
The construction sector, which is projected to rise by a compounded annual rate of 4.7%, has drawn the attention of one of the world’s leading construction conferences, the Big 5, which will hold its Big 5 North Africa event in April at Casablanca’s Parc Des Expositions de l’Office des Changes. The sector is one of the most important in the country, employing some 1 million people. Big 5 will draw on its global network of more than 35,000 exhibitors to give visitors from Morocco and the region a look at the latest technology and methods from around the world.
According to Big 5 Portfolio Exhibitions Director Andy Pert, “The Big 5 Construct North Africa in Morocco will promote the long term growth opportunities, and development of the Moroccan construction industry, along with creating new export partnerships for local Moroccan companies. By sharing global best practices and innovative ideas, beyond providing networking, business and learning opportunities through our internationally recognized Continued Professional Development (CPD) workshops, we are confident The Big 5 will support the Moroccan economy catering to the needs of the local manufactures and construction professionals.”
The Big 5 is the largest, most influential and renowned portfolio of construction industry events spanning the Middle East, India, South East Asia, and Africa. In 2016, it connected over 35,600 exhibitors, 195,500 visitors, 1000 speakers and 20,000 conference and summit attendees.
The post Business Brief: Public-Private Partnership Launched to Promote Moroccan Business Start-ups Abroad; Initiatives Announced to Boost Construction and IT Sectors – Jean R. AbiNader appeared first on Morocco On The Move.
The return of Morocco to the African Union (AU) is "a historic act, a diplomatic victory and a political success," Belgium’s minister of state and MEP Louis Michel said on Tuesday.
Morocco’s reintegration into the AU is indeed "a significant evolution for the Kingdom, but also for the whole of the African continent," he told MAP, noting that the return of Morocco to the Pan-African organization will enable the AU to set up a self-financing plan.
The AU is still dependent on donors for funding, he added.
Morocco's return to the African Union (AU) will allow it play its role in the development of Africa, Spanish Foreign Minister Alfonso Dastis said Monday.
"Given its importance, Morocco, which has returned to the African Union, can play its role in the development of the African continent", Dastis told MAP.
In this context, the Spanish FM recalled that his country welcomed the return of Morocco to the pan-African organization during its 28th Summit Annual meeting in Addis Ababa.
A Moroccan-GCC panel convened on Tuesday in Rabat and agreed on a number of measures to beef up economic and commercial cooperation.
The panel agreed a slew of measures and mechanisms to boost mutually-beneficial economic partnership, Moroccan Minister of State for Foreign Trade Mohammad bin Ayyad told KUNA on the sidelines of the first day of the third session of the panel.
The agreed upon measures relatives to removal of customs barriers, evasion of tax duplication and encouragement of mutual investments in industry, commerce, agriculture and services, he said.
He pointed out that the conferees have also discussed increasing trade exchange and cementing partnership between private and enterprise sectors in both sides.
For his part, head of Kuwait’s delegation to the meeting and director of economic negotiations department at Kuwait’s Ministry of Commerce and Industry Talal Al-Nemash told KUNA that the Moroccan and GCC officials have concurred on signing a memorandum of understanding for ameliorating commercial and industrial exchange.
They also mulled preparation for holding the fifth Moroccan-Gulf investment forum and coordination of stances of economic issues at the Arab League and Organization of Islamic Cooperation.
Al-Nemash underscored the importance of the meeting in boosting economic partnership between Morocco and Gulf countries.
He noted that Kuwait is keen on expanding economic and commercial cooperation with Morocco.
Al-Nemash, however, urged Moroccan officials to remove barriers obstructing the smooth influx of Gulf investments into their country.
Morocco and Spain, two friendly and neighboring countries, are driven now more than ever by a firm will to develop and diversify their relations of partnership at all levels, said, on Monday in Rabat, foreign minister Salaheddine Mezouar and Spanish peer Alfonso Dastis.
"Spain and Morocco have exemplary relations at all levels and our intention and determination is to deepen them and further them in the future," Dastis said in a statement to the press following a meeting with Mezouar.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) "will spare no effort" to support Morocco in the implementation of its migration policy, IOM Director General William Lacy-Swing said.
He made this statement in a recent meeting with Morocco's permanent representative in Geneva, Ambassador Mohamed Aujjar, who informed him of the latest developments of the second phase of the Kingdom’s campaign to regularize the legal situation of undocumented Sub-Saharan nationals.
Morocco is undeniably becoming a strategic platform to address the African continent, wrote on Monday south-African website "howsouthafrica.com".
The website highlighted the increasing number of global companies which choose to step in first in Morocco, then gain a faster access to other African markets.
It underscored Morocco's geographic proximity to Europe, its political stability and its competitive workforce which constitute a powerful advantage.
News from The Associated Press
by Edith M. Lederer
The Polisario Front said Tuesday that since Morocco has rejoined the African Union and accepted the group’s principles, it must recognize Western Sahara’s independence – or it could face possible sanctions or even requests to leave the regional organization.
Ahmed Boukhari, the Polisario Front’s U.N. representative, said at a news conference that the independence movement will be watching what Morocco does between now and the next AU summit in July, which should give the bloc’s members an indication of its intentions.
“If they are going to play games, it’s not against the Western Sahara Republic, it’s against the African Union and they have a right to ask Morocco: Are you a member of our family or not?,” Boukhari said. “If not, there is a possibility of sanctions or even requests to Morocco to get out again.”
Morocco annexed Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony, in 1975 and fought the Polisario Front. The U.N. brokered a cease-fire in 1991 and established a peacekeeping mission to monitor it and help prepare a referendum on the territory’s future, which has never taken place.
Morocco’s deputy foreign minister, Nasser Bourita, told the website Le Desk on Feb. 5 that the kingdom would “never recognize” Western Sahara’s independence.
“Not only does Morocco not recognize – and will never recognize – this so-called entity, it will redouble its efforts so the small minority of countries, particularly African, which recognize it, change their positions,” Bourita said.
African leaders admitted Morocco as the AU’s 55th member at a summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on Jan. 31. Morocco left the AU’s predecessor, the Organization of African Unity, in 1984 to protest Western Sahara’s admission as a full member – the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic.
Boukhari cited the African Union’s charter, which Morocco is now required to support. It states that “the AU shall function in accordance with the following principles: (a) sovereign equality and interdependence among member states of the union; (b) respect of borders existing on achievement of independence.”
Morocco, which gained independence from France in 1956, considers the mineral-rich Western Sahara its “southern provinces” and has proposed wide-ranging autonomy. The Polisario Front insists on self-determination through a referendum for the local population, which Boukhari estimated at between 350,000 and 500,000.
The Polisario representative said that so far he is “frustrated” at what Morocco is doing and its statements.
“I hope that it will be just an accident,” Boukhari said. “I hope … they will really engage in a very serious negotiation.”
He said the Polisario Front also hopes that Morocco joining the AU “can give the African Union and the United Nations a new motivation to increase their cooperation to resolve the conflict of Western Sahara.”
Minister of education and scientific research for the German-speaking community in Belgium Herald Mollers lauded the launch by HM King Mohammed VI of the second phase of the integration of people in illegal situation.
In a letter to the consul general of Morocco in Liege Hassan Touri, the Belgian official hailed this initiative which is part of the new Moroccan migration policy.
The first regularization phase was internationally recognized, he said, wishing full success to the Kingdom in this endeavor.
Morocco is among countries that are doing well in restructuring themselves, said director general of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Christine Lagarde in an interview with weekly "Jeune Afrique".
Morocco is among countries that do not export oil or agricultural raw materials and are doing well in restructuring themselves, said Lagarde.
She also recalled that the IMF has renewed for the third time a line of liquidity in favor of the Kingdom, which is "doing pretty well."
Haitian foreign minister Pierrot Delienne voiced the wish of his country to benefit from the Moroccan expertize in relation with electric production, said a statement by the house of representatives.
The Republic of Haiti aims to boost its production capacity by 60 megawatts within 5years, said Delienne in a meeting with speaker of the house of representatives Habid El Malki following the inauguration ceremony of Haiti's new president Jovenel Moise, said a statement on Friday.
Morocco's ambassador to France Chakib Benmoussa handed, on Thursday in Paris, a decoration awarded by HM King Mohammed VI to deputy and former French minister Luc Chatel in recognition of his commitment to the development of the Moroccan-French relations.
Chatel, chairman of the France-Morocco friendship group at the national assembly, was granted the commander insignia of the Alawite wissam.
Moroccan authorities dismantled 168 terrorist cells since the US 9/11 attacks, said, on Thursday in Rabat, wali, director general of international cooperation at the Interior Ministry Mohamed Moufakir.
50 cells out of 168 were dismantled in relation with conflict zones as Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Syria and the Sahel, said Moufakir in his speech on the Moroccan counterterrorism approach highlighted at a seminar themed "Counterterrorism and fight against violent extremism in the Mediterranean: What kind of cooperation between the two shores" (Moroccan model).
Montenegro's foreign minister Srdjan Darmanovic received on Tuesday HM the King's new ambassador to Montenegro Mohammed Amine Belhaj.
On this occasion, Darmanovic expressed his country's interest in intensifying political contacts with Morocco, and lauded Morocco's return to the African Union which he deemed important for the continent.
Belhaj stressed the excellent relations between the two countries, and Morocco's willingness to enhance them in the fields of trade, investment, agriculture, sports and sea transportation, said a statement by the Moroccan embassy.
The Family Grows Bigger: Reactions to the African Union’s Historic Decision to Admit Morocco – Jordana Merran
By Jordana Merran
February 9, 2017
It’s been just over a week since an overwhelming majority of African Union (AU) member states (39 of 54) agreed to admit Morocco to the pan-African organization after a 33-year hiatus. The historic decision is a crowning achievement for Moroccan King Mohammed VI, who has made Africa a foreign policy priority during his reign. As he outlined in a speech to the AU the day after the news broke, Morocco’s African links “have remained strong and African sister nations have always been able to rely on us.” Indeed he cited his 46 visits to 25 African countries and noted that “since 2000, Morocco has signed nearly a thousand agreements with African countries, in various fields of cooperation”—almost twice as many as during the period between 1956 and 1999.
Not surprisingly, world leaders, institutions, and policy observers welcomed the widely-reported decision. Here’s a sampling of what’s been said:
- “OAU [the Organization for African Unity, predecessor to the AU] finds itself again” – Alpha Conde, President of Guinea and newly elected chairperson of the AU
- “Morocco will now be able to throw its political, military and economic clout, as well as its direct experience of terrorism, behind [AU] operations” – Terence McNamee and Greg Mills of the South Africa-based Brenthurst Foundation and J Peter Pham at the Washington-based Atlantic Council
- “Both the African Union and Morocco are key partners for the EU. We look forward to working with both the African Union and Morocco to consolidate the EU’s growing partnership with Africa.” - European External Action Service
- “If the family grows bigger, we can find solutions as a family,” Senegal’s President Macky Sall in a Voice of America report
- “As Morocco claims its place as a major player in Africa, I hope that Western powers grappling with the same issues can recognize the deeper significance of this latest development: that with cooperation and unity comes strength.” – Former US Ambassador to Morocco Edward M. Gabriel in The Hill
- “… the return of Morocco in the AU family would further enhance African voice and weight at the international level and would facilitate the resolution of critical challenges facing the continent” – Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Dr. Yousef A. Al-Othaimeen
- “With Morocco, the AU gains a well-connected—and deep-pocketed—member as it seeks to move away from international funding and become more self-reliant in the face of isolationist tendencies in the U.S. and Europe. Rabat, meanwhile, gets a seat at the table of an increasingly influential AU that is likely to open up investment opportunities across Africa.” – Wall Street Journal
- “Morocco’s return to the African Union (AU) is a welcome move that is likely to strengthen the unity of the bloc and possibly lead to more African involvement in regional disputes. It was high time that a country as big a player in Africa as Morocco reclaimed its rightful place in the union.” – Gulf News
While nine AU member countries were against Morocco’s return (and six countries abstained from the discussion) King Mohammed VI spoke candidly: “We know that we do not have unanimous backing from this prestigious assembly. Far be it from us to spark off a sterile debate! We have absolutely no intention of causing division, as some would like to insinuate!” With enthusiasm he countered, “You will see: as soon as the Kingdom becomes a member and is able to contribute to the agenda of activities, its action will, on the contrary, help bring about unity and progress. We participated in the creation of this beautiful pan-African edifice and we naturally look forward to regaining the place that is ours within it.”
Morocco’s role as a platform for business in Africa does not only benefit Western companies. The Gulf countries have been major investors in the country and are poised to expand their activities on the continent via Morocco. As Islamic banking is rolled out later this year and next with three Gulf partners, hoped-for investments from the Gulf become even more viable.
Saudi Arabia to Boost Business Ties with Morocco. Saudi Arabia and Morocco are looking to develop economic ties as strong as their political and security relations. ME Confidential reported on the recent meeting of the Morocco-Saudi Arabia Business Council and outlined its results. Among other agreements, the partners will hold two events in 2017, a business delegation from Saudi Arabia to Morocco in February, and a meeting of the two countries’ joint high commission in May. And they are working out the final details of the proposed joint public-private investment fund of some $500 million to support SME investments in both countries.
To support more efficient agricultural trade access, the Business Council has proposed a new direct maritime link that would enable Moroccan exports to compete more effectively with a fast and direct link to Saudi markets. Currently, trade is quite lopsided in an 8:1 ratio in favor of Saudi Arabia because of Morocco’s need to import energy and downstream products.
Another High-Profile Finance Conference Scheduled. Dawood Al Shezawi, CEO of the Annual Investment Meeting (AIM) headquartered in the UAE, has indicated that his organization will hold its annual meeting in Marrakech October 29-31, 2017. The theme is The Future Investment Landscape of Africa: Sustainable Investment through Innovation and Partnership. The objective is to “direct international investments to the continent and other promising markets in Africa.” It will be the first time that AIM is being held outside of the UAE.
Prior to its being held in Morocco, the 7th Investment Meeting (AIM) is set to run from April 2-4, 2017, at the Dubai World Trade Center, under the patronage of HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, with the theme “International Investment, Path to Competitiveness and Development.”
Mr. Al Shezai said, “We are delighted with our new partnership and the signing of the agreement with Marrakech-Safi to host the Annual Investment Meeting for the first time outside the UAE. This reflects the prospering UAE–Morocco relations, especially at the economic level and direct investments. The agreement also demonstrates the great importance attached by international and UAE investors for the African market and their quest to expand investment there, which was evident over the past few years through numerous visits by delegations of the investment companies to a number of African countries.”
From the Moroccan side, the host is HE Ahmed Akhchichine, President of the Marrakech-Safi region, who commented “As the host destination for the Annual Investment Meeting, Marrakech-Safi believes this is a great opportunity for the Kingdom of Morocco to boost its presence on the map of international investment and diversify the aspects of direct investment into the country and other African countries. This will provide new avenues for the diversification of industries, which is already pursued by the major global investment companies, led by leading UAE companies.”
The UAE has had a very special relationship with Morocco in recent years, signing eight bilateral agreements, 11 trade protocols, and four cooperative agreements including the establishment of a joint free-zone and economic and trade cooperation in telecommunications and IT. The UAE was the first investor in the Casablanca Stock Exchange in 2014, with an investment of 55 billion Moroccan dirhams ($6 billion). The UAE is the fourth largest investor in Africa.
Islamic banking poised for strong start. Reuters reported on Morocco’s plans to reach out to international debt markets via its newly sanctioned Islamic banking sector to raise $1 billion in bond issues. Morocco has a $3 billion anticipated deficit in 2017, about 3% of GDP, and Islamic banking is providing an attractive option for raising funds. It is expected that this first-ever offering will see light in the first half of this year due to favorable market conditions.
OIC welcomes Morocco‘s rejoining the AU. Yousef bin Ahmed al-Othaimeen, Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, issued a statement soon after Morocco was voted into the AU last week. He said that the decision was in the best interests of both parties and would enable Morocco to play a constructive and vital role more broadly on the continent.
As the statement read, “During its absence from the AU, Morocco, thanks to its location, was the intersection of global markets and forged closer relations with countries of the continent through a strategy called South-South in Morocco. That strategy is based on promoting Africa’s self-reliance on its resources and capacities. The strategy also aims to consolidate Moroccan-African relations through initiatives in the religious, humanitarian and development fields. Morocco’s strategy, backed by a strong local banking sector as well as human development programmes, has enabled it to become the second biggest African investor on the continent behind South Africa.”
The OIC is composed of more than 50 Muslim-majority countries worldwide and serves as a forum for discussing common issues and projects at all levels – local, national, and regional.
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