Western Sahara Worldnews

Subscribe to Western Sahara Worldnews feed Western Sahara Worldnews
Updated: 1 hour 17 min ago

Morocco, Britain Sign MoU On Civil Aviation Security

Sat, 07/22/2017 - 10:36

Source: Xinhua

Morocco and Britain have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on civil aviation security, the official MAP news agency reported on Friday.

Initiated by minister of tourism, Mohamed Sajid, and the Charge d’Affaires at the British Embassy in Rabat, William Hopkinson, the agreement will further develop cooperation in the field of civil aviation security, the report said.

This goal will be achieved through exchange of experiences and expertise, particularly in the field of new technologies, the organization of training activities, exchange of visits and the evaluation of security measures applied at the two countries’ airports, it pointed out.

The two sides also agreed to combine their efforts and consolidate their relations in the field of civil aviation security.

This cooperation will further strengthen Morocco’s privileged position in the North African region for its security and economic stability and further enhance its image as an attractive tourist destination.

France 24 Apologizes For Airing Images Of Violence From Venezuela Purporting They Happened In Al Hoceima

Sat, 07/22/2017 - 01:54

The North Africa Post

France 24 TV channel has apologized following protests by Morocco after the channel broadcasted images of protests in Venezuela purporting they happened in Morocco’s northern town of Al Hoceima.

The French news broadcaster said the images were a technical failure that was addressed in the following news hour.

Morocco’s ministerial department in charge of the foreign press, The Ministry of Culture and Communication, deplored the airing of images having nothing to do with the circumstances in Al Hoceima adding that it took note of France 24 apology.

Morocco’s Culture and Communication Minister Mohamed Laarej has demanded in a letter, apologies from the French media group, which includes France 24, RFI and Monte Carlo Doualiya.

“That footage, which presented Venezuelan protesters as young Moroccans chased by law enforcement elements in Al Hoceima in northern Morocco sought sewing confusion and misleading the TV channel’s viewers,” the minister said in his letter.

France 24 broadcasted images from Venezuela on July 13 depicting protesters trying to hide from security forces firing at them. The scene was shown during a program on Al Hoceima hosting lawyer Mohammed Ziane, a member of the defense team representing detained Rif protesters.

North Africa Post’s news desk is composed of journalists and editors, who are constantly working to provide new and accurate stories to NAP readers.

Sound Energy Details Morocco Exploration Plans Following Tendrara Successes

Fri, 07/21/2017 - 20:30

by Jamie Ashcroft

Chief executive James Parsons says the rest of 2017 will see a busy operational period for Sound Energy.

Sound Energy PLC (LON:SOU) has outlined its plans for the newly defined Anoual and Matarka exploration areas in the vicinity of its successful Tendrara gas project in eastern Morocco.

New exploration licences are being issued as the group completes its acquisition deal agreed previously with partner OGIF – which also gives the company a larger position in Tendrara.

Sound plans to undertake geophysical surveying and preliminary exploration operations, including seismic, ahead of future wells in the new exploration areas.

READ: Sound Energy confirms Tendrara development concept is intact

“Following the recent confirmation of the plan for Tendrara development with the successful TE7 pressure build up, I am very pleased to report excellent progress on the OGIF acquisition and our geophysical programme,” said James Parsons, Sound Energy chief executive.

“We, together with our strategic partner Schlumberger, are opening a new hydrocarbon province in Eastern Morocco, which we absolutely expect to be transformational for both Sound Energy and Morocco.”

Parsons said the agreements for the new Anoual and Matarka licences will further strengthen the group’s regional position.

“In the meantime, we look forward to updating shareholders on our future drilling plans in Eastern Morocco and the extended well test in Southern Morocco, and to continuing to advance the company’s position in the region.

“We expect the third and fourth quarters to be a busy operational period.”

Tendrara stake increases

Sound confirmed that with its successful recent well programme at Tendrara, it has already satisfied the commitments of both the first and second complimentary periods under its licence agreement, and it now expects to secure a new eight-year licence for the project in 2018.

The company’s next work at Tendrara will involve a Full Tensor Gravity (FTG) gradiometry survey and 2D seismic programme, both of which will be paid for by Schlumberger under its partnership agreement.

Presently, Sound owns a 75% stake in Tendrara which is effectively shared with Schlumberger, with the AIM-quoted firm retaining 47.5% of the asset.

The acquisition deal sees Sound issuing OGIF some 272mln new Sound Energy shares.

Once it is complete, Sound will acquire a further 20% stake in Tendrara, and it will secure the rights to acquire a 75% stake in the Meridja exploration area and a 75% stake in previously relinquished areas close to Tendrara.

Anoual exploration area

The area presently called Meridja will in future be known as the Anoual exploration area. Sound will retain 47.5% of Anoual, once it assigns Schlumberger 27.5%.

Anoual will be subject to an eight-year exploration permit, for an area spanning 8,863 square kilometres.

During an initial three year period. the company will be required to carry out an FTG-aerogradiometry programme, plus acquire 600 kilometres of 2D seismic and 150 square kilometres of 3D seismic.

A subsequent period of two years and six months, will require one exploration well (to test a Triassic objective). Then, a second well will be required under the terms for a third period of two-and-a-half years.

Sound has the option to drill these well ahead of schedule, and they will still count against its obligations.

Matarka exploration area

The relinquished areas will be known as the Matarka exploration area.

Initially, the company will have a one-year reconnaissance licence and it will have to deliver an FTG survey.

After that the group will have the right to apply for a longer exploration licence.

Tendrara programmes

Sound told investors it expects Schlumberger (which is paying for and carrying out the work) will undertake a number of geophysical surveys – including FTG, Scalar Gravity, Magnetics and LiDAR surveys.

This work will start in July. It will span some 24,000 square kilometres, and it will inform a basin scale model to evaluate Paleozoic and Triassic petroleum systems and the basin’s potential. It is expected to be a three month programme, with a full interpretation of the data anticipated in November.

The findings will support planning for the future seismic programmes.

Schlumberger is expected to start the 2D seismic in the first half of next year. The exploration programme will be split into three parcelled areas, likely starting with an area in the Tendrara/Anoual border area where the partners want to better define structural leads.

Subsequently, once all seismic is complete, the company intends to upgrade exploration prospects into its inventory, which will be assessed further via a new competent persons report.

This will be part of a programme to advance the Tendrara resources ahead of a final investment decision for the anticipated Tendrara development project.

Mövenpick Hotel Mansour Eddahbi Marrakech Reopens In Morocco

Thu, 07/20/2017 - 02:01

Breaking Travel News

A six year, US$100 million renaissance orchestrated by Parisian interior designer Studio MHNA has brought the age of Morocco’s Saadian dynasty to architectural life in the dramatic form of the new landmark Mövenpick Hotel Mansour Eddahbi Marrakech.

Comprehensively reconfigured as a modern reinterpretation of the traditional architectural hallmarks found in noble Moroccan mansions of the 16th century, the hotel’s design features include a central fountain, cloistered gardens and peripheral double gallery, while the iconic interiors feature contemporary variations on traditional Moroccan decorative arts.

Inspired by the notional journey of a nomad discovering the refuge of Ahmed Al Mansour Eddahbi, sultan of the Saadian dynasty from 1578 to 1603, Studio MHNA’s innovative design draws guests through a series of differing, complementary spaces, to the majestic central ‘oasis’ or lobby.

On arrival, guests are plunged into the world of an imaginary oasis, passing through a promenade lined with gardens; various inviting lounges, fountains and water features; an ‘airlock’ overlooking a monumental door; and finally a majestic lobby with the ‘oasis’ at its heart.

Modern techniques have been applied to many traditional Moroccan design features to create several remarkable signature pieces.

A dramatic wall of 3D mashrabiyas, or latticework panels, was made using laser cut metals.

A backlit wall of mother-of-pearl provides a stunning contemporary showcase for the ancient mosaic techniques of local craftsman.

Crowning the lobby, beneath a cupola, is a magnificent nine metre high chandelier, made using a high-tech stamping technique from the aeronautical industry.

Ambient lighting includes a stunning feature wall adorned with 1,200 bespoke LED lamps, developed especially over two years by Studio MHNA to recreate the luminous flicker of candlelight – conjuring not just a magical warm atmosphere, but also significant reductions in energy consumption.

With the hotel adjoining the city’s largest and most important convention centre, the Palais des Congrès, Studio MHNA also had to ensure its design was suitable to simultaneously accommodate two very different types of guests, providing an equally appropriate and warm welcome for leisure and business clientele.

In order to achieve this, two distinct guest journeys were created, each taking its own path to a separate, dedicated lobby.

Each type of clientele is thus able to enjoy a tailored, privileged welcome experience: the group lobby is designed to smoothly manage large flows of people, whilst the individual guest lobby offers a more private service.

Mövenpick Hotel Mansour Eddahbi Marrakech reopened in October 2016 under the management of Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts after completing an extensive renovation and expansion programme.

Inspired by the vision and achievements of Ahmed Al Mansour Eddahbi, Sultan of the Saadian dynasty, the hotel is a contemporary oasis from the enchanting buzz of the Red City, just a few minutes’ walk from the bustling Medina in the central L’Hivernage district, and only 15 minutes’ drive from Marrakech Menara Airport.

Morocco Sentences 23 Over Western Sahara Killings

Thu, 07/20/2017 - 01:41

eNCA News

A Moroccan court sentenced 23 Sahrawis on Wednesday to prison terms ranging from two years to life over the killing of 11 members of the Moroccan security forces in contested Western Sahara.

The verdict in the case, which has been closely followed by human rights campaigners, was delivered at dawn by the Court of Appeals in Sale near Rabat, the official news agency MAP reported.

Morocco and the Algeria-backed Polisario Front independence movement have accused each other of provoking the deadly clashes between police and Sahrawi protesters at a camp for displaced people in Gdeim Izik in November 2010.

In 2013 a military court sentenced the defendants to jail terms ranging from 20 years to life.

International rights groups condemned that trial as “unfair” and in July the Court of Cassation ordered a civilian court to examine the case.

Morocco says Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony mostly controlled by Rabat, is an integral part of the kingdom.

The Polisario Front demands a referendum on self-determination for the territory.

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch this week issued a joint plea for the Moroccan authorities to ensure the verdict in the trial was not based on confessions or statements “obtained under torture or other ill-treatment during police interrogations”.

The NGO Action by Christians for the Abolition of Torture has criticised what it called an “unfair trial” that took into account “confessions signed under torture”.

In May, the defendants and their lawyers announced they would no longer attend the trial, alleging “irregularities”.

The Moroccan authorities have sought to underline what they called the “transparency” and “fairness” of the civil trial, which was open to the press and international observers.

Sound Energy Reports “Strong” Pressure Build Up At Morocco Well

Wed, 07/19/2017 - 16:29

London South East
By Maryam Cockar

LONDON (Alliance News) – Sound Energy PLC said on Wednesday its TE-7 well has demonstrated “very strong” pressure recovery to date at the Tendara reservoir in Morocco.

The London-listed upstream gas company said the pressure build up of the well is currently ongoing and pressure stabilisation is estimated to require a further six to eight months.

Reservoir simulations by Sound Energy have suggested that, once the reservoir has reached full pressure stabilisation, the connected gas volumes in place for production from TE-7 would be around 40.00 billion standard cubic feet.

Sound Energy said this is consistent with its preliminary volume estimates from May and allows the company to confirm a field development concept with regular spacing of sub horizontal stimulated wells at Tendara, which would be similar in design to well TE-7.

Following the extended well test on TE-7 during a draw down phase, the bottom hole pressure was recorded at 393.8 bar, a metric unit of pressure, against a final drawdown flowing reservoir pressure in January of 140 bar immediately following the test and an original reservoir pressure of 422.6 bar.

In January the company flowed close to 1.00 billion cubic feet over 56 days during the drawdown phase and Sound Energy said it has retrieved the downhole pressure gauges from TE-7 to analyse the initial reservoir pressure response.

Shares in Sound Energy were up 0.5% to 49.50 pence on Wednesday.

By Maryam Cockar; maryamcockar@alliancenews.com; @MaryamCockar

Moroccan Cement Sales Down By 31% In June

Tue, 07/18/2017 - 00:47

Cement News
By ICR Newsroom

The Moroccan cement market contracted in June by 30.6 per cent YoY to 721,846t from 1,039,544Mt in June 2016, according to the country’s Ministry of Housing. The drop in sales was attributed to a slowdown in construction activity.

In the first half of 2017, demand decreased 9.24 per cent to 6,771,681t with all parts of country seeing a drop in sales, apart from a few southern provinces.

The largest MoM decline was reported in the eastern region, where sales fell by 39.8 per cent, from 84,668t to 50,972t at the end of June. In Fes-Meknes sales declined 37.65 per cent, or 56,735t sold against 90,996t in the same month of last year. Sales decreased at Drâa-Tafilalet, Tangier-Tétouan-Al-Hoceima, Casablanca-Settat and Marrakech-Safi respectively by 36.13, 35.31, 32.90 and 30.32 per cent. Only the Laâyoune-Sakia El Hamra and Dakhla-Oued Eddahab regions were able to recover. In Laâyoune-Sakia El Hamra, cement consumption reached a 9.79 per cent increase, ie sales of 19,054t, up from 17,355t in the same month of last year.

In Detaining OCP Vessel, South Africa Puts Ideology Before Justice- American Enterprise Institute

Sat, 07/15/2017 - 13:14

The North Africa Post

In detaining a vessel loaded with Sahara phosphates bound for New Zealand, the ruling party in South Africa, the ANC, is reconnecting with its anachronistic populist marxist ideology, putting politics above justice in a hostile action that threatens to derail a peace process led by the UN, said the US public policy think tank, The American Enterprise Institute.

In an analysis issued after the pulling out of Morocco’s phosphates giant, the OCP and its Sahara subsidiary Phosboucraa, from proceeding on the core of the case in South Africa, the Think Tank deplored South Africa’s intransigence to put partisan ideology above law, threatening “to derail international processes, reward terror, and effectively encourage piracy.”

The Institute deplores the decision of the South African court to maintain the ship detained in Port Elizabeth with 55,000 tons of phosphates worth $5 million on board.

The author of the analysis Michael Rubin said that South Africa’s justice had better follow the example of Panamanian authorities who “decreed that the Polisario had no jurisdictional competence in the matter.” In doing so, the “Panamanian government and court recognized that allowing self-styled governments and groups to seize shipping amounted to piracy.”

“Groups like the Polisario would then use the proceeds to finance terrorism and the lavish lifestyle of the Polisario’s politburo, and the precedent could disrupt diplomacy worldwide,” warned Rubin.

In the face of the blatant partiality and violations by the South African justice system of the international law of the sea, the OCP declared their withdrawal from the judicial proceedings on grounds that the court “has no legitimacy to pursue the question of whether the Polisario Front should be able to seize the Cherry Blossom’s cargo,” he explained.

The arbitrary detention of the ship will have a fallout on the locals in the Sahara, the author went on to say, noting that “One hundred percent of the profits from Phosboucraa mine, whose product is being shipped by Cherry Blossom, are invested into the local community”. Moreover, the author of the analysis said, “50 local Western Sahara companies subcontract with the firm, creating even greater employment. More than three-quarters of the work force is from Western Sahara as opposed to the rest of Morocco.”

He added that Phosboucraa operates in line with the UN legal framework and international law governing the exploitation of international resources.

“Less than two percent of Morocco’s phosphate exports originate in the Western Sahara and the Moroccan kingdom spends more per capita on residents of the south than it does on any of Morocco’s other regions,” Michael Rubin explained.

In siding with the Polisario, South Africa defends a militia that locks people in abhorrent living conditions in Tindouf camps, and the self-proclaimed SADR republic is a criminal group accused of embezzling humanitarian aid and of connivance with terrorist groups, he said.

The unlawful decision of the South African court also sets dangerous precedent, as the SADR republic is not the only separatist group seeking international recognition.

“If the South African court seizes the Cherry Blossom’s cargo to hand it to a Marxist hold-over in a dusty corner of Africa, then it effectively is declaring open season on international trade and an end to talks as the primary means of resolving conflict,” underlined the author of the analysis.

Posted by North Africa Post

North Africa Post’s news desk is composed of journalists and editors, who are constantly working to provide new and accurate stories to NAP readers.

Maya Gold & Silver Inc.: Zgounder Silver Mine Produces 31,942 Ounces During The Month Of June

Sat, 07/15/2017 - 00:55


MONTREAL, QUEBEC–(Marketwired) – Maya Gold & Silver (“Maya” or the “Corporation”) (TSX VENTURE:MYA) report a monthly production of 31,942 ounces (993.5 Kg) of silver during the month of June 2017 at its Zgounder silver mine in Morocco.

June 2017 Production Highlights

31,942 ounces (993.5 Kg) of silver ingots were produced from 3,536 tonnes of dry material presenting an average head grade of 338.15 g/t Ag;

A recovery rate of 83.08% was achieved representing a decrease of 4% relative to the previous month which we attribute to problems with the washing units;

Production was affected by suspension of operations for a 10 day period during the Ramadan religious holiday and by a planned mill maintenance that will further improve its performance.

Development highlights at the Zgounder Mine

During the month of June 2017, underground exploration and development consisted of 394 metres of percussion drilling in four mine workings.

Underground percussion drilling within two chutes inside panels 5y et 6y allowed the definition of one panel with a tonnage of 12,170 t at an average silver grade of 426 ppm.

Qualified Persons

The technical content of this news release has been provided by Zgounder Millenium Silver Mining and has been reviewed and approved by Michel Boily, PhD, geo from GÉON; an independent Qualified Person under NI 43-101 standards.


Maya Gold & Silver Inc. is a Canadian publicly listed mining corporation focused on the exploration and development of gold and silver deposits in Morocco. Maya is initiating mining and milling operations at its Zgounder Mine owned by Zgounder Millenium Silver Mining, a Maya 85% owned joint venture with l’Office National des Hydrocarbures et des Mines of the Kingdom of Morocco (15%).

Neither TSX Venture Exchange nor its Regulation Services Provider (as that term is defined in policies of the TSX Venture Exchange) accepts responsibility for the adequacy or accuracy of this release.

Zgounder Silver Mine

The decision to commence production at the Zgounder Silver Mine was not based on a feasibility study of mineral reserves demonstrating economic and technical viability, but rather on a pre-feasibility study. Accordingly, there is increased uncertainty and economic and technical risks of failure associated with this production decision. Production and economic variables may vary considerably, due to the absence of a complete and detailed site analysis according to and in accordance with NI 43-101.

Forward-looking statements

This news release contains statements about our future business and planned activities. These are “forward-looking” because we have used what we know and expect today to make a statement about the future. Forward-looking statements including but are not limited to comments regarding the timing and content of upcoming work and analyses. Forward-looking statements usually include words such as may, intend, plan, expect, anticipate, and believe or other similar words. We believe the expectations reflected in these forward-looking statements are reasonable.

However, actual events and results could be substantially different because of the risks and uncertainties associated with our business or events that happen after the date of this news release. You should not place undue reliance on forward-looking statements. As a general policy, we do not update forward-looking statements except as required by securities laws and regulations.

Laptop Ban On Direct Flights Between Morocco And U.S. To Be Lifted: Airline

Wed, 07/12/2017 - 11:22

by Samia Errazzouki

A ban on carrying laptop computers and other large electronic devices in aircraft cabins on direct flights between Morocco and the United States will be lifted on Thursday, Morocco’s Royal Air Maroc said in a statement.

In March, the United States 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 — to address fears that bombs could be concealed in them.

Royal Air Maroc is the only carrier to operate direct flights to the United States, flying from Casablanca’s Mohammed V International Airport to New York and Washington D.C..

It did not say why the restrictions had been lifted, but the U.S. Department of Homeland Security had already dropped restrictions on six of the airlines after they adopted stricter screening for explosives and other enhanced measures.

The department said on Tuesday it would review requests by the remaining three Middle Eastern airlines — from Morocco, Saudi Arabia and Egypt — to have the ban lifted.

State-owned EgyptAir said it expected the restrictions to be removed on Wednesday. Saudi Arabian Airlines, also known as Saudia, said it expected the ban to be lifted on flights from Jeddah and Riyadh by July 19.

(Reporting by Samia Errazzouki; Writing by Aidan Lewis; Editing by Catherine Evans)

IMF Says Morocco Ready To Start Floating Currency

Wed, 07/12/2017 - 02:18

Source: Xinhua
Editor: ying

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) said Morocco is ready to start floating its currency, local media reported on Tuesday.

In June, the country’s central bank announced Morocco will start the first step of floating Dirham, Morocco’s official currency, in early July.

“Morocco has been ready, as we’ve already said. It’s a sovereign and voluntary decision the Moroccan authorities have taken as part of a long process of integrating the country into the world economy,” the Moroccan financial daily l’Economiste quoted Nicolas Blancher, head of mission for Morocco in the IMF’s Middle East and Central Asia Department, as saying. “We don’t see any big exposure to risk,” he noted.

The Moroccan government has said studies are being carried out to ensure enough time for the decision to take effect.

Currently, the Dirham is fixed via a peg that is 60 percent weighted to the euro and 40 percent to the U.S. dollar.

The first stage will ease that peg to allow the currency to trade in a narrow range, which will expand gradually over a few years.

‘TechGirls’ From Middle East And North Africa Head To US

Tue, 07/11/2017 - 18:27


The girls, aged between 15 and 17, from Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestinian Territories, and Tunisia, will take part in a 22 day summer exchange program in Washington DC and Virginia between July 12 and August 3.

Previously the program had also included girls from Libya and Yemen, however this year they are not on the list of participating countries.

TechGirls is an initiative of the US Department of State that began in 2012 during the Obama administration.

Since its inception the program administered by youth organisation, Legacy International, has brought 158 teenage girls from Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Palestinian Territories, Tunisia, and Yemen to the US for “a supercharged three-week program including coding camp, job shadow experiences and meetings with tech industry leaders.”

The US State Department says girls will attend leadership clinics and project management workshops at Virginia Tech and in Washington DC.

They’ll also be mentored by leaders in the tech industry from the US, the Middle East and North Africa.

It comes amid President Donald Trump’s 90 day travel ban on people from six Muslim-majority countries; which also places a 120-day ban on all refugees.

The Supreme Court in June announced it would allow a revised version of the ban to take effect before the justices will hear full arguments in October.

Afghan girls’ robotics team

Meanwhile six Afghan girls who were denied visas to enter the US for an international robotics competition will be watching their robot participate in the FIRST Global challenge on July 16 by Skype.

The high school girls had made the perilous journey – twice – from Herat to Kabul to apply unsuccessfully for their visas.

Teenage girls from Afghanistan Robotic House, a private training institute, practice at the Better Idea Organization center in Herat, Afghanistan.

“We still don’t know the reason why we were not granted visas, because other countries participating in the competition have been given visas,” 14 year old Fatemah Qaderyan told Reuters.

Fitch Says Moroccan Covered Bonds Market Would Boost Housing Finance​

Tue, 07/11/2017 - 18:07


* ‍Fitch says Moroccan covered bonds market would boost housing finance​

* Fitch says ‍introduction of a covered bonds market in Morocco would support continued strong growth of retail mortgage lending​

* ‍Fitch says asset quality in Moroccan banking sector is weak by international standards​

* Fitch says Moroccan covered bonds​ would lessen maturity mismatches between banks’ assets and liabilities, reducing liquidity risk – a credit positive Source text for Eikon.

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.