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Business Brief: King Continues Building Strong African Economic Ties – Jean R. AbiNader

Jean R. AbiNader, MATIC
February 23, 2017

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

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

Not content to slow down after his victory in achieving admission to the African Union, King Mohammed VI visited Ghana and Zambia, extending his economic diplomacy by presiding with his hosts over the signing of more than three dozen agreements and MOUs. Nigerians seem to be attracted to Moroccan interiors for residential and institutional buildings. And a prominent Moroccan businessman speaks out on his support for the King’s economic policies in Africa.

Ghana to Develop Significant Projects with Morocco. With a large group of business leaders in tow, King Mohammed VI presided over the signing of 27 MOUs with the government of Ghana that highlight the kingdom’s leadership in key sectors such as agriculture, agro-processing, energy generation, infrastructure, real estate development, information and communications technology, pharmaceuticals, banking, insurance, and tourism. The Moroccan private sector delegation was led by Miriem Bensalah Chaqroun, the CEO of CGEM.

She and Clement Osei Amoako, Vice President of the Ghana Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI), held a joint meeting attended by Finance Minister Minister Ken Ofori-Atta on behalf of the government, with a reported 210 companies. President of Ghana Nana Appiagyei Dankawoso pointed out that “proposals made during the meeting included the need for government to improve the macro economic situation in the country, encourage private-public partnership initiative across the Ghanaian economy and streamline businesses rules and regulations.” “The Ghana National Chamber of Commerce and Industry remains resolute in protecting commerce, trade, industry and manufacturing,” he added.

Zambia Signs 19 Agreements with Morocco. King Mohammed VI continued his outreach on the continent by visiting Zambia and participating in the signing of eight government-to-government agreements and presiding over 11 MOUs between the two countries’ private sectors. The bilateral agreements covered economic, scientific, cultural, industrial, investment protection, agricultural, flight, and mining sectors. Signing for the government were Acting Ministers  Saleheddine Mezouar of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation; Mohamed Boussaid, Finance and Economy; Moulay Elalamy, Minister of Industry, Trade, Investment and the Digital Economy; Aziz Akhannouch, Agriculture and Fisheries; and the Director General of ONHYM, Amina Benkhadra.

Meriem Bensalah Chaqroun, once again led the private sector delegation and initialed agreements to set up a bilateral business council as well as provide expertise in mining, renewable energy, tourism, and insurance. Speaking during the event, Mrs. Bensalah Chaqroun commented that “Our common challenges and objectives draw us together as two countries. We have a duty for the future to take the continent to greater heights.”

She further noted that that Zambia provided an opportunity for Morocco to enter the southern and eastern parts of Africa through its membership in regional bodies. And, on the other hand,
Morocco was a getaway for Zambia to Europe and Asia. The King’s delegation was made up of 589 people from the government, private sector, and media.

Meanwhile, in Nigeria, Moroccan Décor Opening Doors. A former journalist, with Moroccan and Nigerian citizenship, is pioneering the introduction of Moroccan décor items into Nigeria, on projects ranging from a mosque and church to high-end residential buildings. Mohammed Tijjani Sabiu, who is based in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, began his career in Morocco and then decided that traditional Moroccan interior designs would get a great reception in Nigeria.

In an interview with the Daily Trust, Mr. Sabiu credits the pervasive cultural influences of Moroccan design in all kinds of structures in the kingdom that encouraged him to introduce the same sensibility into Nigeria. Beginning in the north of the country, where the Islamic influence is more pronounced, Mohammed is extending his operations into the capital and southern areas. His company imports ecologically friendly paints from Morocco and is setting up a paint factory near the capital. There are more than 200 Nigerians undergoing training in the finishing and installation of the décor, including moldings and the use of different types of paints.

Moroccan Business Leader Speaks on the Country’s Leadership. Saad Bendidi is not ordinary businessman. He participates in many of the King’s overseas trips as a representative of the private sector, and is quite committed to strengthening Morocco’s presence in Africa. In a recent interview with Benzinga, he says that the growth in Moroccan business in Africa will continue to increase because of its favorable demographics creating a growing consumer pool, the expanding middle class, extensive natural resources, and desire for more consumer products and services. He predicts that renewable energy, food and consumer products, mining, and housing will be strong performers for the next 25 years.

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