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Southern African Economies The Most Competitive In Africa

Mon, 07/10/2017 - 23:50

Southern Times Africa
By Magreth Nunuhe

WINDHOEK – Mauritius, South Africa, Rwanda, Botswana, Morocco, Namibia, Algeria, Tunisia, Kenya and Cote d’Ivoire are the 10 most competitive economies in Africa, according to the Africa Competitiveness Report 2017.

In all of Sub-Saharan Africa, Mauritius leads the pack as the topmost efficient country, while on the global scale it ranks as the 45th most attractive country in which to do business, having dropped from its 39th spot from last year.

Mauritius is followed by South Africa, whose global ranking has substantially improved from 56 to 47, while Rwanda has also upgraded from position 62 to 52. Botswana is up from 74th spot to 64 with Morocco at 70, while Namibia has only slightly improved from 88th place to 84.

Tunisia is at 95, Kenya (96) and Côte d’Ivoire (99). The May 2017 report was published by the African Development Bank (AfDB), World Economic Forum and World Bank.

It assesses competitiveness landscape of economies, providing insight into the drivers of their productivity and prosperity, while also assessing national competitiveness worldwide and providing a platform for dialogue between stakeholders.

Mauritius continues to outperform its continental peers because “its leaders have removed the hurdles that prevent so many other countries from achieving prosperity; in this case, streamlining its goods market, building solid infrastructure and promoting a healthy workforce”.

South Africa and Rwanda have also improved their global ranking since the last index was released in 2015, with their continued growth being attributed to the uptake of technology, efficient financial markets and a focus on strengthening institutions. The report indicates that creating jobs can lead to Africa’s economic revival that may sweep the continent to prosperity. But in general, countries that have put in place sound fiscal and monetary policies, by keeping inflation, debt, and current accounts in check, have tended to see improvements in their macroeconomic environment, counterbalancing the negative effects of shrinking revenues.

“This is an aspect where many African countries have improved significantly, having better control of inflation and government accounts compared to 20 years ago, and in some cases achieving a performance in line with advanced economies,” reads the report.

Countries like Gabon were hailed in the report for maintaining a low inflation rate, relatively high national savings, and a contained budget deficit, while Botswana, although impacted by shrinking mineral exports, has done well in ranking globally, thanks to good management of its resource fund, low public debt and inflation, and high national savings.

Together with Mauritius, Gabon and Botswana are said to have developed the soundest macroeconomic environments in Africa.

Mauritius is the only African country in transition from an efficiency driven economy to an innovation driven one, in the league of advanced economies, like Germany, Korea, Norway, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States.

The innovation-driven economies are characterised by the ability of a country to sustain higher wages and an associated level of productivity only if their businesses are able to compete with new and unique products using sophisticated management methods.

African countries in the efficiency driven stage of development are Namibia, South Africa, Cape Verde, Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia, whose economies are categorised by more efficient production and increased product quality, higher education and training, developed financial markets and the ability to make use of latest technological developments.

The above African countries are on par with countries such as Peru, Jordan, Indonesia, Albania, Belize, China and Colombia in terms of their stage of economic development.

The majority of African countries remain in the first stage of development – the factor-driven stage, where they are required to prioritise in building sound institutions and providing macro-economic policies, adequate infrastructure and ensuring a healthy and educated workforce.

According to the report, Africa has shown a five percent improvement, but compared to 10 years ago, Africa’s gap has started to widen with the world’s most advanced economies this year.

On a positive note, the quality of seaports and roads in some African countries, like Namibia and South Africa, perform relatively well, with the quality in line with average levels in advanced economies.

Africa has made significant progress on a number of crucial competitiveness dimensions over the past decade, such as on health and literacy, child mortality sharply declining from 83 to 47 percent, and primary school enrollment having grown to above 80 percent, according to the report.

East Africa is reported to be the sub-region that has managed to improve its competitiveness performance the most, gaining 8 percent in score since 2007, followed by Southern Africa, which has gained 6 percent.

West Africa and North Africa, after a short period of improvement, the competitive index note they are today at the same level of competitiveness they used to be 10 years ago.

ABB To Build Substation For Nareva Wind Farm In Morocco

Mon, 07/10/2017 - 13:24

Renewables Now
Wind turbines in Morocco.
Source: ABB (http://www.abb.com)

ABB (VTX:ABBN) will deliver a 225/33-kV hybrid substation for a wind farm in Morocco under a partnership with local energy group Energie Eolienne du Maroc.

The substation, worth USD 16 million (EUR 14m), will be installed at a wind farm owned by Moroccan firm Nareva, a subsidiary of the royal holding company Societe Nationale d’Investissement (SNI). Its capacity can be increased to up to 400 kV, or the wind park can be upgraded to 300 MW, ABB said on Friday.

The substation will be constructed in southern Morocco and will be linked to the national power grid. It will be the first of its kind in the African country, designed to withstand the desert climate and marine air conditions, the Swiss power and automation technology company explained. The facility will be equipped with ABB’s ZS2 MV switchgear, 150 MW of power transformers, instrument transformers, surge arresters, substation automation system and protection and control.

Morocco is forecast to face rising power demand in the coming years. The north African country is targeting a 42% share of renewables in the total electricity generation capacity by 2020, and 52% by 2030.

Analysis: Now It’s Their Turn

Mon, 07/10/2017 - 13:01


Either Amir Peretz or Avi Gabbay will lead the ‘white tribe’ of Israel’s Labor Party.

Regardless of who will be elected to be the new head of Israel’s Labor Party in the second round – Amir Peretz or Avi Gabbay – one fact is already known: the person to replace Isaac Herzog is of Moroccan origin. “So what?” is the wrong reaction to this statement.

What should really be very irrelevant in Israel 2017– is actually very relevant. To begin with, in the 70 years of the State of Israel there has never been a Sephardi [descended from the Jews of the Iberian peninsula]prime minister, Moroccan or otherwise.

Now two contestants from Moroccan families and the social and geographical peripheries are competing for the leadership of the political party still strongly identified with the “white tribe,” an unsavory term gaining momentum as society matures. In fact, Labor has actually already had two Sephardi chairs: Benjamin Ben-Eliezer of Iraqi descent and Amir Peretz himself over ten years ago.

Nevertheless, the party is still perceived as the Bastille of the white Ashkenazi [Jews of Eastern European descent] hegemony, resented and rejected by masses of Sephardi voters.The roots of this phenomenon are deeply embedded into the history of Israel. They are the crime and the punishment for wrongdoings perpetrated by the then-ruling old Labor in the process of absorption of Jewish immigration from North Africa. Humiliation is the key word.

The wound refuses to heal despite the belated public “forgive us” act by Ehud Barak as a Labor prime minister in 1999; The gaps opened over decades between Ashkenazi and Sephardi have not closed despite the attempt to verbally bury what is called in Hebrew “the ethnic devil.”

This time, it feels different. The two – Peretz and Gabbay, of humble background, defeated two who best represent the old elite of Labor Party. One is the acting chair, Isaac Herzog, son of the late Gen. Haim Herzog, Labor politician and sixth president of Israel; the other is Omer Bar-Lev, son of the late Lt-Gen. Haim Bar Lev, one of the stars of the old Labor and a cabinet minister on multiple occasions. A world-renowned Israeli writer of Iraqi origin, Eli Amir, defined the victory of the two runner-uppers over the crown princes as the emergence of a “new aristocracy.”

He strongly believes that the outcome of this election marks a conceptual change.He might be right, although not necessarily. The recognition that no party in Israel can win the elections without Sephardi voters and the assumption that a Sephardi leader may attract those votes, might provide an alternative explanation.

It might be both. In any case, both candidates hate the reference to their ethnic background. They hardly mention it, if ever. They let others do for them what is still considered to be an unpleasant job in Israeli society.

Gabbay, by now a millionaire with an impressive record in the sphere of business and management, hardly mentions his roots, though he makes wise use of the hardships of his youth, growing up in a tiny house with eight siblings. Peretz’s biography is well known to Israelis, and so is his statement of wishful thinking ten years ago that the ethnic problem is non-existent.

Little did he know.Whatever the future holds, the two victories over the old elites are an event of historic importance. Unlike the two former short-lived episodes of Sephardi leadership of Labor party, this one grows of from fertile ground in a more comfortable climate.

Not yet golden, but changing

About two years ago, a new social movement emerged on the Israeli scene. Young intellectuals of Sephardi origin formed an organization under the name “Golden age – it is our turn now.” The name “Golden Age” refers to those days of Jewish cultural prosperity in Spain in the Middle Ages; “now is our turn” was their way of saying that the days of the exclusive Ashkenazi hegemony in Israel are over – now is the turn of Mizrachi Israel, to get control of all the strongholds in society that really matter.So far, the new movement has had limited success.

Nevertheless, the double victory of the two contestants in the Labor Party certainly has a lot to do with the changing social climate and audacious, unapologetic Sephardi discourse relentlessly spread by public opinion leaders and intellectuals of Sephardi origin.

It certainly was not like that just 11 years ago when Peretz was first elected to lead the party, many veteran Ashkenazi members left in angry protest. He just did not fit in. The most radical reaction was that of the then-new Russian speaking community in Israel. One of the major local newspapers in Russian called Peretz a “garbage alley-cat from Sderot,” in reference to the small town in the southern periphery where he chose to live. They hated his roots, his looks, and his accent.

Everything. Peretz himself admitted then that he expected some dissatisfaction, but this level of racism surprised him.Twelve years later, the same party has chosen not only him, but also another candidate of Moroccan origin to possibly lead the party. Ethnicity makes Israeli politics go round. The official reaction is that there is good reason to celebrate the success of two Moroccans, but that the revolution is far from over.”

In July 2017, the two emerge on apolitical scene in days of a vocal, self-assured Sephardi discourse. The one elected will be on a double-pronged mission: to rephrase the left and right discourse and fine-tuning adjustments based on both security and identity. The rest just might become history.

Lily Galili is a feature writer, analyst of Israeli society and expert on immigration from the former Soviet Union. She is the co-author of “The Million that Changed the Middle East.”

1,000,000th Dacia Car Built By Morocco Plant

Mon, 07/10/2017 - 10:00


Dacia’s factory in Tangier, Morocco has just built its millionth car and is recognised as the greenest car plant in the world.

Dacia is celebrating a notable landmark with the production of the 1,000,000th car at a factory hailed as the most environmentally friendly in the automotive world.

The Azurite Blue Dacia Lodgy rolled off the line in Tangier, Morocco, just over five years after the opening of the facility in February 2012.

Since then, 474,840 Sanderos, 320,078 Dokkers and 193,181 Lodgys have been manufactured there, bound for 37 markets around the world.

• Cheapest cars to run

The production success at the 300-hectare site has been achieved in tandem with an environmental policy that is setting a blueprint for other manufacturers.

Tangier is considered zero emissions in terms of CO2, with more than 90 per cent of its requirements fulfilled by renewable energies. This is in the main thanks to a biomass heating plant and a programme designed to minimise consumption without compromising performance, leading to savings of 100,000 tonnes of CO2 annually.

Led By Pakistan And Morocco, Troop Contributors To UN Form Group

Sun, 07/09/2017 - 04:20

Pakistan Today
Foreign National
by Staff Report

UNITED NATIONS: Troop and police contributing countries to the United Nations peacekeeping operations launched an informal group on Friday, under the leadership of Pakistan and Morocco, to discuss strategic issues affecting their personnel and to brainstorm responses to the new challenges facing world peace and security.

The group, co-chaired by Pakistan’s Ambassador to the UN Maleeha Lodhi and her Moroccan counterpart Omar Hilale, met on the sidelines of Chiefs of Defence Conference at UN Headquarters in New York.

The meeting was largely attended by ambassadors and senior diplomats from the troop countries who praised the initiative taken by Pakistan and Morocco for discussions of their common problems, offering their full support in ensuring that the group’s voice was heard.

“This group will serve as a sounding board for new ideas and innovative solutions to confront the emerging challenges to international peace and security,” ambassador Lodhi told the inaugural meeting.

She said it will also be a collective reaffirmation of the troop-contributing countries abiding commitment to bring the promise of hope and prosperity to those affected by war and conflict.

The calls for doing more with less, despite the fact that peacekeeping was the most cost effective way of restoring peace and lives, was neither realistic nor sustainable, ambassador Lodhi said, while outlining the factors that prompted the formation of the group.

Also, she said, the demands for cuts in peacekeeping budgets needed to be questioned and countered.

The ongoing review of the UN peace and security architecture and the impending strategic reviews of peacekeeping missions provide troop and police contributors an opportunity to have their voices heard, the Pakistani envoy said.

In addition, she urged the need to provide a balance to the trend of focusing just on a few black sheep, who tarnish the image of Blue Helmets, rather than looking at the full picture.

“The efforts and contributions of our heroes, who take huge risks and make the ultimate sacrifice to uphold international peace and security, need to be more effectively highlighted.”

Ambassador Lodhi pointed out that troop and police contributing countries place their best resources and expertise at the UN’s disposal, and have a huge stake in the success of these peacekeeping missions.

“It is, therefore, imperative that we, as a group, should be able to voice their views and concerns effectively.”

She said there was a need to focus on some areas – including the fact that success of UN peacekeeping hinges on having a robust political track that leads to political solutions. As such, addressing the root causes of conflicts was critical. Among others areas was the optimum use of modern technology in peacekeeping, and adequate resources for effectively carrying out diverse mandates.

Ambassadors and senior diplomats from Uruguay, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Cameroon, Egypt, Jordan, China, and Ethiopia endorsed the views expressed by the Pakistani envoy and wished the group a success in its efforts to highlight the issues facing the troop contributing countries.

In his concluding remarks, the Moroccan ambassador said that the group would be open, flexible and provide an opportunity to share their experiences. It would also look for out-of-box solutions aimed at making peacekeeping more efficient.

Earlier, Ian Martin, a senior UN peacekeeping official, welcomed the formation of the group and briefed its members about efforts being made at UN to streamline the peacekeeping operations.

Sound Energy Reports Successful Koba-1 Well Test In Morocco

Sat, 07/08/2017 - 04:27

World Oil

Sound Energy, the Moroccan and European focused upstream gas company, is delighted to report the success of operations to date at the Koba-1 well at Sidi Moktar, onshore Morocco.

The Company has successfully re-entered, completed, perforated and flared gas at surface from the Argovian reservoir (historically the main producing reservoir in the Kechoula discovery).

A five metre interval was perforated in the Argovian reservoir at a MD of 1406 m, where the static pressure was measured at 98 bar, confirming a producible gas accumulation. The Company has now temporarily suspended the well in preparation for a rigless extended well test – after which the Company hopes to move rapidly to production. The Koba-1 well, drilled at the crest of the Kechoula discovery, is close to existing infrastructure and gas demand, including the large scale Moroccan state owned OCP Phosphate plant.

The Company believes the Sidi Moktar licences also contain significant pre-salt potential and notes the quantitive assesment prepared by a previous operator in 1998 which referred to exploration potential of the Sidi Moktar licences of up to 9 Tcf unrisked gas originally in place (gross) in the TAGI and Paleozoic. The Company will require the reprocessing of existing 2D seismic, acquisition of new 2D seismic and drilling results before forming its own volume estimates for the exploration potential of the Sidi Moktar licences.

The Company also advises that due to poor quality cement bonding across the Lower Liassic in the Koba-1, and likely the Kamar-1, wells, the Company no longer intends to immediately re-enter the Kamar-1 well (subject to agreement with the regulatory authorities). The Lower Liassic at Kechoula will therefore be evaluated at a later date together with the deeper pre-salt.

As a result, the rig will be immediately released from Sidi Moktar and will likely return to the Company’s licences in Eastern Morocco.

Sahara: Morocco Scores Points At African Union Summit

Fri, 07/07/2017 - 15:58

Sahara News
by Ali Haidar

Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita on Tuesday (July 4) in Addis Ababa expressed Morocco’s satisfaction at the decisions taken on the Sahara at the 29th Summit of Heads of State and Government of the African Union (EU).

“Morocco is very pleased with the debates and decisions that have been taken place at this session,” Nasser Bourita told a press conference after the summit, saying that “maneuvers and procrastination (by Morocco’s opponents) have been discarded. Today, we have positions that go in the right direction”.

The head of Moroccan diplomacy also welcomed the wording of the resolution on the Sahara in which African Heads of state call for “appropriate support” for the UN Secretary-General to resolve the Sahara dispute. The resolution, he said, is “very important and is an evolution”, since it “recognizes the leadership of the United Nations and the handling of the issue in New York”.

Actually, contrary to the South African Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma who was completely aligned with the Algerian position in the Sahara issue and openly displayed her hostility to Morocco, the new chairman of the AU Commission, Chadian Moussa Faki Mahamat, adopted a more balanced tone in addressing this issue.

Faki Mahamat affirmed to have taken note of the solid arguments of Morocco and of its serious and credible efforts, acknowledged by the international community, to settle definitively this issue.

He also welcomed the calming down of tension in the Guerguerat area and welcomed the intention of the new representative of the UN Secretary General, German Horst Köhler, to launch a new initiative to find a peaceful solution to the conflict.

Moreover, after it had been manipulated for a long time to side with the separatist theses of the Polisario and the geostrategic interests of the Algerian regime, in collusion with South Africa, the AU commission broke with this alignment and pronounced itself for a “consensual” solution to the artificial Western Sahara conflict.

Morocco also succeeded to have the AU Executive Council delete the words “occupied territory” from the report of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and from the Summit resolution on the Sahara.

The wording of this resolution and the AU Commission’s call for a consensual solution to the Sahara conflict are certainly not to the taste of the leaders of Algiers and their protégés, the Polisario, who perceive there the beginning of a turnaround on the African chessboard in favor of Morocco.

Spike In Migrant Boats To Spain May Signal Shift In Africa Exodus

Fri, 07/07/2017 - 14:50

By Paul Day and Edward McAllister
photo by Reuters/Jon Nazca

The number of migrants crossing into Spain by sea from North Africa has doubled in 2017 from last year, outpacing the Libya-Italy route as the fastest growing entry point to Europe.

The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) says the spike in migrant boats is already putting a lot of stress on Spain’s insufficient migration structures.

* Migrants reaching Spain by sea doubles in 2017

* Spain is fastest growing entry point to Europe

* UNHCR says country ill prepared to handle crisis

Escaping poverty and conflicts, more than 360,000 refugees and migrants arrived on European shores across the Mediterranean last year, according to the UNHCR. More than 85,000 have reached Italy so far this year.

Spain’s interior ministry did not return calls and emails seeking comment.

While the Italian sea route remains the most popular overall with 59,000 migrants between January and May, up 32 percent from last year, the Spanish route further west has gathered steam with 6,800 migrants using it in the same period, a 75 percent increase from 2016.

In June, the trend was even more pronounced as 1,900 migrants, mostly young men originating from Guinea, Ivory Coast, Gambia and Cameroon, reached the shores of the Southern region of Andalusia, quadrupling the numbers registered the same month last year.

Further South, just as dramatic is the fall in the number of migrants spotted in the Agadez region of Niger, a key stop on the way to Libya from West Africa.

“People are talking about going to Spain. It seems like it is safer to go through Morocco to Spain than through Libya. The difference is that Libya doesn’t have a president and Morocco does – there are not guns like in Libya,” said Buba Fubareh, a 27-year-old mason from Banjul, Gambia, who tried and failed to get to Europe via Libya earlier this year.

Many African migrants passing through Libya have reported having been beaten up, detained in camps with no food or water and even traded as slaves before being held for ransom, forced labour or sexual exploitation.


A similar reorganization has also taken place within the Western Mediterranean route itself, with the Alboran Sea, which connects North-Eastern Morocco and South-Eastern Spain, being now more popular than the previously favoured Gibraltar strait or Ceuta and Melilla land borders where policing has increased.

Migrant arrivals on the Spanish coastline averaged just under 5,000 a year between 2010 and 2016, according to government data, down from peak of 39,180 in 2006. It is on track to top 11,000 this year, government data shows.

The country was unprepared to handle vulnerabile groups such as victims of trafficking or unaccompanied minors and refugees who should be channelled through asylum procedures, the UNHCR said.

Spain has so far given a lukewarm response to a request from Italy to fellow European Union countries to allow rescue boats carrying African migrants across the Mediterranean to dock in their ports and help handle tens of thousands of arrivals.

“What is clear is that, they (Spain’s government) have to get ready. They can’t be caught unprepared. What started happening elsewhere in Europe in 2015 can’t be allowed to happen here,” spokeswoman for the UNHCR in Spain Maria Jesus Vega said.

“It’s not yet an emergency, but you have to take into account that there are no structures here to deal with more arrivals.” (Writing by Julien Toyer; editing by Ralph Boulton)

Groupe PSA Creates A New OpenLab For Research On Sustainable Mobility For Africa

Fri, 07/07/2017 - 13:04

Automative world

Groupe PSA signed an agreement with five Moroccan universities, two American universities with campuses in Morocco, an engineering school of Ecoles Centrales based in Morocco, and a technological centre at the International University of Rabat.

The “Sustainable Mobility for Africa” OpenLab has committed to a four-year research program to explore sustainable mobility systems focused on three major areas:

• Electric mobility for the future to develop electric powertrains adapted to the African market,
• Renewable energy to support the spread of ecological and economical energy sectors,
• Logistics of the future, to find the optimum combination that meets the needs of the supply chain of a production unit and corresponds to local constraints.

It will draw on Groupe PSA’s scientific expertise and its university partners, as well as on the technology platforms in Morocco.

The Sustainable Mobility for Africa OpenLab partners are:

– International University of Rabat
– Université Mohammed V de Rabat
– Ibn Tofail University (Kenitra)
– Université Cadi Ayyad (Marrakesh)
– Euro-Mediterranean University of Fes (INSA EuroMéditerranée)
– Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech)
– Mississippi State University
– Ecole Centrale Casablanca
– Lafayette Institute

Groupe PSA is committed to an Open Innovation policy, involving building and managing relationships with different ecosystems: individuals, businesses, academia and institutions.Within the academia ecosystem, StelLab, established to strengthen scientific partnerships with public laboratories on the leading edge of innovation, forms a network of OpenLabs and academic chairs.

To better respond to social, environmental and economic challenges presented by the “car of the future”, this network of OpenLabs is spread across locations around the world. This allows it to share research teams and experimental resources from PSA and partner laboratories.

The Sustainable Mobility for Africa OpenLab strengthens a network of 17 active OpenLabs made up of 12 in France, 4 in China (1 in Beijing, 2 in Shanghai and 1 in Wuhan), and 1 in Brazil.

Moroccan Cement Market Contracts 8% In May

Fri, 07/07/2017 - 13:00

Cement News
By ICR Newsroom

Cement sales in Morocco fell 7.6 per cent to 1.24Mt in May. The drop has been attributed to the recession in the real estate sector following a slump in social housing and the slowdown on construction sites as a result of the delay in the formation of a new government and adoption of Finance Law 2017.

In the first five months of 2017, cement sales retreated six per cent to 6.05Mt YoY.

Diversification For Moroccan Citrus Exports In 2016-17

Fri, 07/07/2017 - 12:52


The Moroccan citrus industry was able to successfully tap new markets while maintaining traditional ones in 2016-17, according to a recent report published by a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) agency.

A recently published report from the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) highlighted a 2% increase in mandarin/tangerine exports, a 19% uptick in orange shipments and a 64% rise in lemons, although the latter was more of a rebound to normal levels.

“Morocco continues to make strides to diversify its exports, sending greater and greater volumes to Sub-Saharan Africa and finding new markets in the Middle East,” the FAS said in the Global Agricultural Information Network (GAIN) report.

“Reemerging MedFly problems were particularly disruptive to Morocco’s citrus exports in February 2017, including specifically its exports to the United States.”

Despite this issue, the United States still recorded a 7% rise in imports of Moroccan mandarins/tangerines to 41,173 metric tons (MT). However, this quantity is relatively small compared to exports to leading markets Russia and the EU, which combined account for a 70% share and both notched rises of 3% in volume.

The increase in volume was supported by an increase of around 5,000 hectares in the harvested area, while just over 1,000 extra hectares were added to the planting area in mandarins/tangerines.

It was in oranges that the diversification could truly be seen though, with Sub-Saharan Africa overtaking Russia to become Morocco’s second-largest destination for the crop with 9,812MT. This still falls significantly short of the EU’s 30,304MT of imports, but the old continent did see a sharp drop of 8% year-on-year.

Russia’s imports of the fruit did not fall however, increasing 5% to 8,189MT, while Canada (+392%; 2,766MT) and the Middle East (+4102%; 2,101MT) saw exponential rises in Moroccan orange purchases.

Leading lemon market Russia saw an 81% uptick in imports to hit 6,584MT, while Canada’s rose sharply by 962% up to 875MT and the EU fell 44% to 710MT.

Photo: www.shutterstock.com

Morocco Set To Implement Midelt Phase I CSP Project

Thu, 07/06/2017 - 09:42

ESI Africa

Morocco is set to construct the Midelt Phase I CSP Project, which will generate solar power through an innovative hybrid concentrated solar power (CSP) and photovoltaic (PV) solution.

This is after the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the World Bank each approved finance of $25 million for the project.

The funds will be channeled via the Climate Investment Funds’ Clean Technology Fund (CIF CTF), the AfDB explained.

The project consists of two separate CSP plants, each with 150-190MW CSP capacity and a minimum of five hours of thermal storage.

Midelt Phase I CSP Project

The project’s innovative hybrid solar design will be built on a unique Public-Private Partnership between the Moroccan Agency for Sustainable Energy (MASEN) and private sector sponsors – with a build, own, operate and transfer (BOOT) project structure and implementation approach.

The envisaged installed capacity of the PV component could reach approximately 150-210MW, making the total capacity of each of the proposed plants 300-400MW; and the total capacity of this first phase 600-800MW.

AfDB’s Director, Climate Change and Green Growth, Anthony Nyong, said: “In 2015, the world saw an important shift in CSP investment from the developed to the developing world, particularly in Morocco.”

Nyong added: “Morocco’s path-changing Noor CSP programme under CTF, for which we serve as implementing agency, has been a critical element of that shift.

“This new project, which will be modelled on the Noor operational and financial structure, will increase the development of solar energy and further help diversify the country’s energy mix and enhance its energy security.

“We believe that the project can serve as a model for other countries in the region and beyond.”

Morocco’s renewable energy plan

The Midelt Phase I CSP Project is expected will significantly contribute to Morocco’s achievement of its Nationally Determined Contribution under the Paris Agreement, including its goal of achieving 52% of installed capacity from renewable energy (20% from solar) by 2030. Read more…

Morocco’s solar plan will also contribute to industrial development, competitiveness and could create about 30,000 jobs.

“Until now, CSP has been the dominant renewable energy technology assuring electricity during peak hours and by adding a PV component, we expect enhancing the reliability of the power plant,” AfDB’s CIF Programme Coordinator and Senior Climate Finance Officer, Leandro Azevedo, stated.

“The combination of these two technologies will allow Morocco to optimise the dispatch of generated power during the daytime by ensuring that the utilisation of the CSP component can be maximised during night-time through the use of thermal storage,” Azevedo said.

Royal Air Maroc Expects U.S. Laptop Ban To End By July 19

Thu, 07/06/2017 - 07:56

By Aziz El Yaakoubi

Royal Air Maroc expects the U.S. ban on laptops and other large electronic devices in aircraft cabins on direct flights to the United States to be lifted by July 19, a senior official from the state-owned airline said on Thursday.

The U.S. banned laptops in cabins on flights originating at 10 airports in eight countries – Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and Turkey – in March to address fears that bombs could be concealed in them.

“Negotiations with the U.S. authorities are underway and we expect the ban to end by July 19 at the latest,” the official, who declined to be named, said.

U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) spokesman Mike England said in an email that it was too early to confirm Royal Air Maroc’s compliance.

Royal Air Maroc operates flights to the United States from Casablanca’s Mohammed V International Airport.

Qatar Airways said on Thursday the ban had been lifted on its flights from Doha’s Hamad International Airport.

Emirates, Turkish Airlines and Etihad also announced a lifting of the ban on their flights this week.

Saudi Arabian Airlines (Saudia) has said it expects the ban to be lifted on flights from Jeddah and Riyadh by July 19.

Other airlines affected by the ban include Royal Jordanian , Kuwait Airways and EgyptAir.

The United States announced enhanced security measures for flights to the country on June 29. These require additional time to screen passengers and personal electronic devices for possible explosives.

Airlines that fail to meet the new security requirements could still face in-cabin electronics restrictions.

(Editing by Alexander Cornwell and Alexander Smith)

Morocco Secures $25m Loan From The Clean Technology Fund For Hybrid Solar Project

Thu, 07/06/2017 - 03:59


Morocco received approval for a US $25 million loan from the Climate Investment Funds’ Clean Technology Fund (CIF CTF) for a project to generate solar power through an innovative hybrid Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) and Photovoltaic (PV) solution.

The Midelt Phase I Concentrated Solar Power Project is being supported by the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the World Bank with an additional allocation of US$ 25 million in CTF resources.

The project consists of two separate CSP plants, each with 150-190 MW CSP capacity and a minimum of 5 hours of thermal storage. The envisaged installed capacity of the PV component could reach approximately 150-210 MW, making the total capacity of each of the proposed plants 300-400 MW and the total capacity of this first phase 600-800 MW.

The project’s innovative hybrid solar design is also built on a unique Public-Private Partnership between the Moroccan Agency for Sustainable Energy (MASEN) and private sector sponsors – with a Build, Own, Operate and Transfer project structure and implementation approach. Selected sponsors are expected to form a Special Purpose Company to build and operate the plants and sell the generated electricity to MASEN under a 25-year Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs). The process will be designed to allow the award of the plants to different bidders. The support from the CTF and AfDB is critical in driving down the cost of the project’s capital and lowering the Levelized Cost of Electricity.

“In 2015, the world saw an important shift in CSP investment from the developed to the developing world, particularly in Morocco” stated Anthony Nyong, AfDB’s Director, Climate Change and Green Growth. “Morocco’s path-changing Noor CSP program under CTF, for which we serve as implementing agency, has been a critical element of that shift. This new project, which will be modelled on the Noor operational and financial structure, will increase the development of solar energy and further help diversify the country’s energy mix and enhance its energy security. We believe that the project can serve as a model for other countries in the region and beyond,” he added.

The project will significantly contribute to the Government of Morocco’s achievement of its Nationally Determined Contribution under the Paris Agreement, including its goal of achieving 52% of installed capacity from renewable energy (20% from solar) by 2030. Morocco’s Solar Plan will also contribute to industrial development, competitiveness and could create about 30,000 jobs.

“Until now, CSP has been the dominant renewable energy technology assuring electricity during peak hours and by adding a PV component, we expect enhancing the reliability of the power plant” stated Leandro Azevedo, AfDB’s CIF Program Coordinator and Senior Climate Finance Officer. “The combination of these two technologies will allow Morocco to optimize the dispatch of generated power during the daytime by ensuring that the utilization of the CSP component can be maximized during night-time through the use of thermal storage,” he said.

Estimated greenhouse gas savings for the Noor-Midelt Phase 1 project is about 1.2 million tCO2 equivalent per year and 36 million tCO2 equivalent over the project’s 25 year-lifetime.

Sound Energy Has Gas Success In Morocco

Wed, 07/05/2017 - 17:31

Energy Voice
Written by Stuart Monteith – 05/07/2017 11:31 am

UK player Sound Energy has successfully extracted gas from the its Kechoula Discovery in Morocco.

The company confirmed that a test drill at a measured depth of 4612 feet confirmed a “producible gas accumulation”.

The company’s chief executive James Parsons said: “We are delighted by this early success at the Kechoula discovery and look forward to both the extended well test and to unlocking the deeper, and much larger, pre-salt potential in the future.

“Our attention now turns back to our very significant position in Eastern Morocco where we are preparing for further near term drilling and seismic.”

The company added that it believes the Sidi Moktar licence contains gas – based on a quantitive assessment prepared by a previous operator in 1998.

The company will now be required to reprocess the existing 2D seismic, acquire new 2D seismic and drilling results before forming its own estimate on the exploration potential at the site.

Casablanca Finance City Signs A Strategic Agreement With Busan International Financial City

Wed, 07/05/2017 - 14:30

Business wire

Casablanca Finance City (CFCA), the panafrican financial center based in Casablanca, Morocco, sealed today a strategic partnership with the Korean financial center Busan International Financial City (BIFC).

Under the terms of this signed agreement, in order to promote and develop their common interests, the BIFC Promotion Center and CFCA expressed their willingness to strengthen their cooperation in multiple areas.

Both parties have agreed to enable the sharing of expertise, and to work together in order to develop a financial hub specialized in maritime finance, derivatives market, back-up centers.

CFCA and BIFC’s Promotion Center will also cooperate in order to attract financial institutions, regional headquarters of multinationals, holding companies, and professional services operators.

They will also support companies from each jurisdiction to develop the business. CFCA will support South Korean companies willing to do business in Africa and aims at becoming the platform for regional headquarters planning to expand in the region. The BIFC Promotion Center will do the same for Moroccan companies (major companies and financial institutions) willing to develop their businesses in South Korea.

Furthermore, both financial centres will collaborate on other activities for the promotion of the areas of cooperation above, including assistance in welcoming business and financial delegations, joint organization of seminars, and mutual exchange of information subject to the prior written consent from the other Party.

Mr. Said Ibrahimi, CEO of CFCA said: “We have a lot in common. Not only a strategic geographical location-we both are at the crossroads of two major sea routes- but also our key positioning as regional financial Hub. This MoU will therefore aim at merging our channels of expertise and know how, while promoting investment opportunities in both directions”

Mr. Young Ho Park, Head of Busan International Financial City Promotion Center, Busan Economic Promotion Agency, said: “This MOU is significant in that it will help us to strengthen our cooperation with Casablanca Finance City across continents to share the experience and knowledge on policy schemes of these two promising financial cities.”

About Busan International Financial City’s Promotion Center

The Busan International Financial City Promotion Center was established by Busan Metropolitan City Government in 2008 and is under the umbrella of the Busan Economic Promotion Agency. The BIFC Promotion Center supports Busan City to grow into a global financial center specialized in maritime finance, derivatives market, and back-up centers. It aims at promoting Busan as an attractive Financial Hub for global financial institutions. BIFC Promotion Center’s missions include financial industry research, the establishment of a financial city base, the cultivation of financial manpower and financial city promotion.

About CFCA

CFCA is a public-private partnership dedicated to positioning Casablanca as an international economic and financial center and a premier gateway into African market for financial institutions, headquarters of multinational corporations and professional service firms. Casablanca Financial City Authority is empowered by law with the overall management and promotion of Casablanca Finance City.

Additional information about CFC can be found at www.casablancafinancecity.com |Twitter: @casafinancecity | LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/company/casablanca-finance-city

Fatim-zahra SAADANI, Tél : +212 5 20 30 03 80


History : Sultan Mohammed III Endless Endeavors To Befriend The USA

Wed, 07/05/2017 - 04:00


Sultan Mohammed III issued a declaration to establish diplomatic relations with the USA./Ph. DR.

On December 1777, Sultan Sidi Mohammed Ben Abdullah, has been trying to seek diplomatic relations with the American Republic that has recently declared its independence in 1776.

As part of a very well studied step, the Sultan announced his desire to befriend the USA. His request, as indicated by the U.S Embassy and Consulate in Morocco website, was an endeavor to strengthen the country’s economy through maritime trade.

The Emperor, back in the time «wanted to establish state-controlled maritime trade as a new, more reliable, and regular source of income which would free him from dependency on the services of the standing army», the same source recalls.

Morocco as a first step opened its ports for American ships allowing them to freely navigate alongside the other vessels coming from countries that signed treaties with the kingdom, such as Russia, Malta, Sardinia, Germany and other European nations. The declaration issued by the Sultan made Morocco the first country to acknowledge the legitimacy of the USA as a republic with which trade and diplomatic relations should be maintained.

The Sultan’s Letters

However, American officials, led by Benjamin Franklin did not respond to the Moroccan request. One year later following the first declaration, Sultan Mohammed III, reissued another statement which was «belatedly learned». «The February 20 declaration was again sent to all consuls and merchants in the ports of Tangier, Sale, and Mogador informing them the Sultan had opened his ports to Americans and nine other European States», said the article.

The sultan’s will to put efforts into attracting the Americans did not stop right there. In 1778, Mohammed III named Etienne d’Audibert Caille, a French Merchant of Sale, a Consul for all the nations unrepresented in Morocco. Caille was occupied with the task of writing to the Americans and let them know formally that the Sultan is ready to sign a trade treaty to ensure their diplomatic ties. Unlike expectations, Caille’s attempts were met by negligence, as Benjamin Franklin did not trust him.

The Congress finally responding

The new consul wrote on the behalf of the Sultan to Franklin in 1779 and to the congress during the same year as well as to the American Representative in Madrid. All these letters fell on deaf ears, until 1780 when the American congress finally replied to the Moroccan request through a letter that said :

«We the Congress of the 13 United States of North America, have been informed of your Majesty’s favorable regard to the interests of the people we represent, which has been communicated by Monsieur Etienne d’Audibert Caille of Sale, Consul of Foreign nations unrepresented in your Majesty’s states. We assure you of our earnest desire to cultivate a sincere and firm peace and friendship with your Majesty and to make it lasting to all posterity. Should any of the subjects of our states come within the ports of your Majesty’s territories, we flatter ourselves they will receive the benefit of your protection and benevolence. You may assure yourself of every protection and assistance to your subjects from the people of these states whenever and wherever they may have it in their power. We pray your Majesty may enjoy long life and uninterrupted prosperity.»

After receiving the Congress letter the Sultan waited for two years while American ships were granted the same status given to the other European trade vessels entering the Kingdom’s ports. On May the 7th 1784, the «congress authorized its Ministers in Paris, Franklin, Jay, and Adams, to conclude treaties of amity and commerce with Russia, Austria, Prussia, Denmark, Saxony, Hamburg, great Britain, Spain, Portugal, Genoa, Tuscany, Rome, Naples, Venice, Sardinia, and the Ottoman Porte as well as the Barbary States of Morocco, Algiers, Tunis, and Tripoli».

The Treaty of Friendship and Amity

Despite the courageous step taken by the congress, delays kept annoying the Sultan who decided to act differently. On October the 11th 1784, Mohammed III detained an American merchant ship named Betsey in Tangier and ordered the American government to sign a treaty in exchange of the Men, ship and cargo. Indeed, in 1785, a treaty between the USA and Morocco was under negotiation and the Sultan released the Bestey crew and shipment.

Following that, «on October 11, 1785, the commissioners appointed Thomas Barclay, American Consul in Paris, to negotiate a treaty with Morocco on the basis of a draft treaty drawn up by the commissioners, the source stated. A Treaty of Friendship and Amity was signed in Marrakech by the Sultan by on June 23rd and was shipped to Barklay who signed it equally on June 28th.

A different treaty was signed later on July the 6th 1786 in Marrakech to identify American and Moroccan vessels. It was later in 1797, the USA established a Consulate in Morocco after realizing the satisfactory results of the treaty first requested by Sultan Mohammed III.

Climate Change Threatens Nomadic Life In Morocco

Tue, 07/04/2017 - 12:05

Perry DeMarche
photos: Mary Mathis

M’HAMID EL GHIZLANE, Morocco — For generations, they were known as “rain nomads,” herders who moved constantly along the western rim of the Sahara Desert in search of a patch of green where their goats and camels could graze.

Then the rain, never plentiful, became even more sporadic. Temperatures got hotter. A dam choked another source of precious water, the Draa River. Not even the camels could endure.

Families whose lives revolved around the seasons and the needs of their livestock, gave up and became villagers. Over the years, many settled in this oasis town whose one main street merges into the edge of the desert.

About two-thirds of Morocco’s roughly 25,000 remaining nomads live in this region about 200 miles south of Casablanca, according to a 2014 government survey. The number of nomads had fallen by 63% from the previous decade, the same survey by the Moroccan High Commission for Planning found. While there are a number of reasons for the decline, climate change is among the main causes.

Laghroumi Mohammed uses a dowsing stick to search for underground water on his family’s …more

Climate conditions created by global warming trap hot air around the Sahara, so the desert actually is expanding, said Meryem Tanarhte, a Moroccan professor who holds a doctorate in atmospheric chemistry.

Tanarhte said Morocco has seen a decrease in precipitation, increasing heat extremes and severe drought over the past 30 years. And it will worsen.

The Max Planck Institute for Chemistry predicts that temperatures in the Middle East and North Africa will increase twice as fast as the global average. Even if the overall rise in temperatures can be held below the Paris climate accord’s target of 2 degrees Celsius, the entire region is likely to become uninhabitable, the institute said in a 2016 statement.

““The river died, and it killed us with it.”” – Laghroumi Mohammed

The conditions already are too extreme for the camels and goats essential to the nomads’ lifestyle. The animals provide milk, meat and skins. They are sources of transportation and traditional medicine, and can also be sold for income.

El Gasni Hamadi, 43, said his family’s camels died because of drought, and one animal is etched in his memory when she couldn’t get up one morning. “There was no answer,” he recalled. “No one to help; nothing to do. And she just died in my arms.”

Hamadi’s family settled here decades ago, when he was 7. The family had around 100 camels in 1995. Now, they have only 10.

Mohammed Boulfrifi, 37, said his family settled in M’Hamid, a town of 7,500, when their goats became so malnourished that their ribs were visible.

The Draa River, an important source of water for M’Hamid El Ghizlane and other Moroccan desert …more

“It’s not just us,” Boulfrifi said. “Half the village came from the desert before — they were nomadic. Half. Or more than half.”

The village has not escaped the effects of climate change. Ali Daimin, a shopkeeper in M’Hamid who holds a master’s degree in history and geography, said there never were sand dunes in town.

“It was land for agriculture, for everything,” he said. “Now part is completely covered by sand. You can’t use it for anything.”

George Zittis, a post-doctoral fellow specializing in climate simulations at the Cyprus Institute’s Energy, Environment and Water Research Center, predicted temperatures on the hottest days here would exceed 120 degrees by the end of the century. That is more than 10 degrees warmer than now.

“What we consider extreme in a present climate will be normal in a likely future, unless greenhouse gases are substantially reduced,” he said.

But Tanarhte said scarcity of water will have the biggest impact because agriculture depends on precipitation. “So if it doesn’t rain, everything goes wrong,” she said.

El Gasni Hamadi, standing in back row, was born a nomad but now teaches French and Arabic at the …more

Hamadi said precipitation has always been so sporadic that there is a saying in town: If an antelope is standing in the desert when it rains, one horn gets wet while the other stays perfectly dry.

A study by German scientists estimated that by 2050 annual rainfall, which averages only a couple of inches across the region, is likely to decrease by between three-quarters of an inch and 1.6 inches.

The Draa River long served as another source of water until the Mansour Eddahbi dam was built upstream near the city of Ouarzazate in the 1970s to provide hydroelectric power and irrigation, and to control floods. The flow downriver to M’Hamid decreased, and the problem has gotten worse as the river’s sources of water in the Atlas Mountains receive less rain.

It used to be easy to find water close to the surface of the dried river, but people are now forced to dig 25 feet or more, said Boulfrifi and Laghroumi Mohammed, another former nomad. When they do find water, it is often unusable because of salinization.

Mohammed, 52, once followed the date harvest for three months each year, pitching a tent of palm leaves along the river and digging shallow wells to bring water to his family.

Now many of those date palms are stumps blanketed by sand dunes. “The river died, and it killed us with it,” Mohammed said.

Mohammed said the river used to bring water to M’Hamid if even a quarter-inch of rain fell upstream. Now, there is nothing, even if three or four times that amount falls.

Other reasons also encourage nomads to give up their lifestyle — access to education and health care, and restrictions on movement across the border between Morocco and Algeria.

Hamadi recalls the dramatic change from living with camels and goats as a nomad to sitting in a classroom. He eventually became a teacher in M’Hamid. But people like him are an exception.

Many former nomads have found work in tourism as camel trekking guides.

The Moroccan High Commission for Planning said 84% of nomads have received no formal schooling. Boulfrifi, who settled in the village when he was 20, said there are few job opportunities for people like him.

“I don’t know how to write. I don’t know how to read. I have never been to school,” he said. “What kind of work can you do?”

The answer for him and many others has been tourism. Some former nomads lead treks to campsites in the desert or to the Erg Chigaga dunes, about 30 miles west of M’Hamid. Boulfrifi helps manage a desert camp.

“There is the military or tourism. And people, they prefer to be in tourism,” he said. “The people here, they like open air and to be free.”

But they also question whether tourism is really the answer. Many think there is a lack of government attention to the issues facing M’Hamid. So some residents have started their own initiatives.

Hamadi’s family launched a cooperative making date jam to provide a steady income for former nomads. An association works with the Agriculture Ministry to provide nomads with subsidized camel food, and another group helps women sell handicrafts.

Mouloud Tanzint, 33, who was born a nomad but now holds a master’s degree in human rights issues, said governments must take a global approach to climate change. He cited examples of polar ice melting and changes in precipitation in South America.

In the meantime, many here find little reason for optimism. “With the climate, we cannot decide,” said Daimin, the shopkeeper. “It’s not in our power. But based on what’s happened, it can only get worse and worse.”

Perry DeMarche and photographer Mary Mathis attended the School of International Training (SIT) Study Abroad journalism program in Morocco, where they produced this report in association with Round Earth Media, a nonprofit organization that supports young journalists. Yassine Chaoui contributed to the story.

Morocco Urges Common African Vision On Migration Issue

Tue, 07/04/2017 - 07:38

Source: Xinhua
Editor: yan

Morocco’s King Mohammed VI called Monday for common African vision on ways of dealing with migration issue.

Addressing migration issue requires an innovative approach by creating synergies between development plans and migration policies, the king said in a speech at the 29th Summit of Heads of State and Government of the African Union (AU) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopian capital.

“Africa is losing its youths due to legal and illegal migration. There is no way such a loss can be justified. Should our young people’s fate be at the bottom of the Mediterranean? Should their mobility become a hemorrhage? Certainly not! I think it is up to us to deal with this issue properly,” the king said.

Morocco will submit a paper focusing on need to lay out a common African vision on migration, the king noted.

World’s Largest Seawater Desalination Plant To Be Built In Morocco

Tue, 07/04/2017 - 02:21

Construction Week Online
Rajiv Ravindran Pillai

Morocco will build the world’s largest desalination plant for drinking water and irrigation, following the signing of phase one of the $352.9m project.

The project will be developed by an international company Abengoa in the Agadir region in partnership with the National Office of Electricity and Drinking Water (ONEE) and BMCE Bank.

Mohamed Boussaid, Minister of Economy and Finance, and Aziz Akhannouch, Minister of Agriculture, chaired the signing of the conventions in the Souss-Massa region on 29 July, in Rabat, according to Morocco World News.

Akhannouch said that the project “constitutes a lever for sustainable socio-economic growth for the entire region.”

The project involves the construction of a desalination plant with a 275,000m3 total production capacity of desalinated water per day that will be the largest plant designed for drinking water and irrigation. The contract also provides the flexibility for the possible capacity expansion to up to 450,000m3.

The desalination plant, which also provides for the option of being operated on wind power, meets the demand of water for domestic use in addition to irrigation water needs in the area of Agadir.

Abengoa will continue to undertake the engineering, construction and operation and maintenance for a period of 27 years, as per the contract. Abengoa and the Moroccan company InfraMaroc will be investment partners and responsible for the project financing.

Abengoa has been present in Morocco since 1977 and has offices in Rabat and Casablanca.