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Business Brief: Public-Private Partnership Launched to Promote Moroccan Business Start-ups Abroad; Initiatives Announced to Boost Construction and IT Sectors – Jean R. AbiNader

Jean R. AbiNader, MATIC
February 14, 2017

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

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

Faced with an anemic growth rate in 2016 of around 1.6% due to an 8% drop in agricultural output because of drought, Morocco expands its efforts to diversity its economy and generate options for new business development that will mirror the success of the auto industry, which, for the third year in a row, leads all export sectors. In response to increased interest from the overseas Moroccan community, more concrete efforts are being made to benefit from its expertise and resources to support the domestic economy. These efforts and much more demonstrate Morocco’s commitment to generating the economic expansion needed for job and income growth.

Expat Moroccans and Women Push for Business Opportunities. One of the constant features of Moroccans living abroad is their interest in being more engaged in the Moroccan economy. In the past, this usually meant investing in family housing or supporting the education of family members. With the increased business sophistication of Moroccans abroad, there has been a constant clamor over the past decade for a more proactive role in the economy. That will be facilitated by a new agreement between the largest private sector business organization CGEM, and the Ministry in charge of the affairs of overseas Moroccans.

The agreement provides for setting up a virtual 13th region of CGEM, one that is specifically geared towards the integration of Moroccan Entrepreneurs of the World (MEM) into the Moroccan economy. The core project involves the creation of a cloud-based platform to enable Moroccans in country and abroad to exchange experiences, best practices, expertise, and access to government programs that support entrepreneurs.

According to Minster for Moroccans Abroad Anis Birrou who signed the agreement with Miriem Bensalah Chaqroun, CEO of CGEM, “Nearly 60% of Moroccan entrepreneurs of the world want to invest in Morocco to accompany the dynamics of the Moroccan economy which offers great opportunities.” He noted that there are an estimated five million overseas Moroccans, including some 300,000 businesses.

Ms. Chaqroun noted in announcing the agreement that “This public-private partnership is in line with King Mohammed VI’s vision to bring together the Kingdom’s forces in order to encourage the emergence of the country through the creation of employment and wealth and the strengthening of the experiences and expertise exchange between Moroccans residing abroad and Moroccan entrepreneurs operating in the Kingdom.”

AFEM, the premier women’s business organization in Morocco, will hold its second South Economic Women’s Initiative (SEWI) conference in early March as part of World Women’s Day.   The theme is “Entrepreneurship Tomorrow, the Keys to Success,” focusing on critical skills and resources that enable women-owned companies to succeed. SEWI 2017 enables attendees who come from Morocco, Europe, and Africa, opportunities to engage entrepreneurs, network, and exchange ideas about their experiences.

AFEM supports and works with women from diverse communities and backgrounds, enabling, assisting, and inspiring them to set up their own projects and perform as entrepreneurs. In addition, it aims to encourage equitable leadership by reinforcing the role of women in diverse decision-making positions.

IBM, Big 5 Launch Initiatives. Recognizing the enormous growth potential in Africa, projected to have the world’s largest workforce by 2040, IBM has committed $70 million for digital skills training for 25 million young Africans in the next five years. Morocco is one of the five countries targeted. Dubbed “IBM Digital-Nation Africa,” the project will utilize a cloud-based platform with programs ranging from basic IT literacy to advanced IT skills, including social media, cybersecurity, and enhanced privacy. The e-learning platform will use IBM’s Watson, the company’s cognitive system. It will analyze users’ profiles to formulate individualized training models, even adapting the educational content of the program to suit each user.

The program includes training in business skills such as innovation, critical thinking, and entrepreneurship. By providing skills and business training, IBM hopes to raise overall digital literacy, increase the number of skilled developers with the ability to access high-level programming, and enable them to build businesses around new platforms.  According to IBM, “In order to find solutions to Africa’s challenges, industries across the spectrum need to enable the existing and future workforce to perform at the forefront of technologies such as cognitive and cloud computing. This will be the key to spurring economic growth.”

The construction sector, which is projected to rise by a compounded annual rate of 4.7%, has drawn the attention of one of the world’s leading construction conferences, the Big 5, which will hold its Big 5 North Africa event in April at Casablanca’s Parc Des Expositions de l’Office des Changes. The sector is one of the most important in the country, employing some 1 million people. Big 5 will draw on its global network of more than 35,000 exhibitors to give visitors from Morocco and the region a look at the latest technology and methods from around the world.

According to Big 5 Portfolio Exhibitions Director Andy Pert, “The Big 5 Construct North Africa in Morocco will promote the long term growth opportunities, and development of the Moroccan construction industry, along with creating new export partnerships for local Moroccan companies. By sharing global best practices and innovative ideas, beyond providing networking, business and learning opportunities through our internationally recognized Continued Professional Development (CPD) workshops, we are confident The Big 5 will support the Moroccan economy catering to the needs of the local manufactures and construction professionals.”

The Big 5 is the largest, most influential and renowned portfolio of construction industry events spanning the Middle East, India, South East Asia, and Africa. In 2016, it connected over 35,600 exhibitors, 195,500 visitors, 1000 speakers and 20,000 conference and summit attendees.

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