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Business Brief: Morocco Moves Ahead in Private Aviation Market while Renewable Energy Sector Gets Plaudits – Jean R. AbiNader

Jean R. AbiNader, MATIC
May 31, 2017

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

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

Keen to build on its reputation as a center for aeronautics, Morocco will host a major regional meeting bringing together a number of local and international aviation companies. The country also continues to build on its reputation as a global leader across a number of renewable energy sectors. On the human development side of the ledger, African migrants are finding opportunities in Morocco, thanks to its pioneering migrant policy.

Morocco continues to garner aeronautics credentials. The Middle East Business Aviation Association (MEBAA) will hold its annual conference this year in Marrakesh. MEBAA is based in Dubai and alternates its annual conferences in different cities in the region. MEBAA’s founder and executive chairman, Ali Alnaqbi, believes that having Marrakesh as the host city will attract high-net-worth buyers who want to combine business with an ideal vacation in a great location.

More than 250 companies, including Boeing, Gulfstream, Jet Aviation, and Jetex have already signed up for the show. Alnaqbi touts Morocco as an ideal location, as its business aviation sector is rapidly growing. He says, “It has also become much easier to obtain a license to operate business aircraft there.” MEBAA is affiliated with the National Business Aviation Association that meets annually in the US. Together they work on issues worldwide that affect their industry, from regulations and taxation, to leasing and ownership opportunities, as well as highlighting the latest available private aviation equipment and services.

The Financial Times looks at Morocco’s renewable energy leadership. That Morocco is an African and global leader in renewable energy projects is well known. Less attention has been paid to both the supply chain and collateral companies that are making important contributions to the energy sector. The Financial Times took a look and came up with some great examples of how initiatives from the top can lead to opportunities for entrepreneurs and enterprises to create products and services that broaden the impact of the initial capital investments.

From innovative software programs that harness artificial intelligence to control energy costs by monitoring and adjusting for use on a timely basis (think NEST), to innovations in energy storage that make renewable energy devices more efficient, entrepreneurs are coming up with products to take advantage of Morocco’s commitment to greatly reducing its use of fossil fuels. And the government is helping through incentives and support for entrepreneurs and new enterprises, and opening new markets in Africa where less than half the population has sufficient access to power.

Given the many bilateral initiatives resulting from King Mohammed VI’s economic diplomacy, Moroccan companies are well placed to extend their expertise throughout the region, creating even more opportunities for Moroccan companies. The article, cited in Morocco World News, mentions projects in Ivory Coast, Senegal, Ghana, and Cameroon as examples of Morocco’s capability to export its expertise.

The article quoted Mohamed Bernannou, chief executive of the Moroccan Climate Innovation Centre (MCIC), created in 2014 to develop green technology industry and entrepreneurship. “We have a big chance in Morocco right now. Conditions in Morocco can replicate those found in many sub-Saharan African countries, giving local companies a competitive edge over those from other parts of the world.”

Opportunities growing for African migrants. A recent story on AllAfrica.com highlighted several African migrants who have decided not to attempt to enter Europe but instead put down roots in Morocco. This would not have been possible, legally, even five years ago, but due to an innovative program promoted by King Mohammed VI, migrants can register to live and work in the country.

The article looks at several cases in Casablanca, where many from West Africa have begun new lives, from working in the central market to using their technical and vocational skills to start businesses. For example, “Richard Wenong is a Cameroonian electrician who works around the market, where his wife has a beauty parlor. He was one of the sub-Saharans who initially saw Morocco only as a transit country on his way to Europe. But then he changed his mind: ‘I saw it was not important for me because I got some jobs I can do since I’m a technician. I finally integrated myself here, so things are moving well with me, no need to go to Europe.’”

More than 40,000 migrants have either acquired or are in the queue for residency papers in Morocco, which allow them to work legally and avoid the uncertainty of attempting entry into Europe. It helps that many of them speak French, the business language of Morocco, enabling them to take advantage of support from NGOs that offer advice, financing, and training for small business start-ups.

Online business matchmaking firm opens in Morocco. Opportunity Network (ON) announced the opening of its offices in Casablanca, where it will offer networking, business development, and international business matching opportunities. Founded in 2014, Opportunity Network is a business matchmaking platform that partners with financial institutions to allow their corporate and private clients to find their next business partner for deals above USD 1 million around the world. It operates in more than 40 countries.

This is the third office in Africa for the company, and it will be headed by veteran business development specialist Najwa el Iraki, formerly at Casablanca Finance City Authority (CFCA) and founder of Africa Dev Consulting, which offers investor support for the African continent. ON founder and CEO Brian Pallas said on the firm’s website that “In the time of digitization and financial technology, we intend to work closely with the United Nations to contribute to African development. It is natural that we have chosen Morocco to develop our activities in the region and thus to support the growth of industrial and commercial activities of companies in Africa.”

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