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Business Brief: Reports on Morocco’s Industrial and Education Sectors; Announcements of a New Tourism Development Partnership and Music Festival in the News

Jean R. AbiNaderMATIC
September 15, 2017

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

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

The progress of the Industrial Acceleration Plan was featured in a story that looks at the role of the African Development Bank. A World Bank officer visiting Morocco reinforced the results of a recent Bank study of youth in Morocco. On the tourism front, a major partnership was announced to pursue projects, and Agadir provided details on an upcoming Amazigh music festival.

Morocco partners with the African Development Bank (AfDB). More good news for Morocco from The African Development Bank, which will provide $200 million in 2019, in addition to the $200 million approved in July, to support Morocco’s Industrial Acceleration Plan (IAP), a comprehensive strategy to grow its manufacturing sector and other industrial sectors. The AfDB program, designed in consultation with the Ministries of Industry and Finance, “encourages the government to accelerate the structural reforms needed to diversify the economy” through investment in industries and the export of industrial products, with an emphasis on greater participation from Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SME).

The IAP aims to increase the GDP share of manufacturing to 23% and create a half-million jobs by 2020. It has two main objectives: to promote investments in all types of industrial activity, and to enable a higher level of participation from SMEs through greater access to financing and investment capital

According to the AfDB, the industrial sector continues to grow in Morocco, reaching 17.9% of GDP in 2016 (+ 1.5%), and exports increased by 10% between 2013 and 2016. In 2016, the automotive industry accounted for 24.8% of all exports by value, reaching some $5.8 billion. It was followed by the leather and textile sector (an 8.3% increase = to $4 billion), the agri-food industry (+7% = $2.9 billion), aeronautics (+17.7% = $1.1 billion) and electronics (up 8.9% = $900 million).

Experts at the AfDB noted that “Despite these results, the competitiveness of the Moroccan industrial fabric remains limited in relation to its potential, and export products are not very diversified, with limited added value, in comparison with other emerging countries.” The IAP is the strategy to change that, according to Moroccan authorities.

World Bank encourages greater focus on youth. As its report outlined in May, the World Bank believes that Morocco will benefit significantly from investments in youth education, training, and mobilization. The Bank’s director of operation in the Maghreb, Marie Françoise Marie-Nelly, reiterated that message at a roundtable in Morocco on “Innovation in Education, Which Schools for Tomorrow?” She noted that the country will benefit from investing today in youth since Morocco’s age pyramid will begin to reverse itself from 2040. She said, “Morocco must become rich before becoming old,” investing in skills and inclusive strategies that enable young Moroccans to drive economic growth.

One of the key demographic measures is the ratio of dependent population – the non-working young and elderly – to the overall population. Currently less than 50%, projections show that by 2040, the overall population will begin to age with fewer workforce age citizens. Referring to the latest World Bank report on the economic memorandum, the director said that if Morocco is to achieve its expected emergence, it will have to “significantly improve its productivity by investing in the human factor, education.”

The issue of investments in education was further explored in an article in Medias24, which noted Marie-Nelly’s point that the bulk of the money spent on public education is for salaries for administrators and teachers, with little left for student and teacher resources, infrastructure, and educational reform. She called for greater investment in the pedagogical content and quality of education, with a view to ensuring a thorough reform of the education system.

Recognizing that educational reform is a long process, she encouraged the country to mobilize parents, restructure the learning calendar, and develop an integrated educational strategy combining all the necessary elements. “Ms. Marie-Nelly also noted that Morocco has succeeded in ensuring full access to primary education for both girls and boys, adding that efforts are still needed to improve access for pupils to secondary education, which is limited to 80% in urban areas and 40% in rural areas.”

Big news on the tourism front. Moroccan sovereign fund Ithmar Capital was created primarily to channel Gulf investments into the tourism sector. Now, according to le360, it has joined with the Qatari Investment Bank Qinvest to launch three joint mega-tourism projects.  A newly formed entity, Oryx Capital, with an initial budget of $5.5 million, will carry out initial feasibility studies.

In May 2016, Ithmar, formerly the Moroccan Fund for Tourism Development (FMDT), received the approval of Moroccan public authorities to launch such a venture. The three projects include “a resort with sports and entertainment services around a medina in the mountainous region of Oukaimeden in the Middle Atlas; an amusement park in the region of Marrakech; while the third project, nicknamed Al Chatii Al Abdyad (The White Beach), will be a sea resort with leisure services catering to both local and foreign visitors.”

Jazz music set to rock Agadir. The French Institute of Agadir, in cooperation with local and regional governments, is launching the 1st edition of the “Anogoggar N Jazz” festival to be held November 24th to 26th. While the jazz scene is already present in Morocco with Jazzablanca, Tanjazz, Jazz au Chellah and Jazz sous l’Arganier, this marks the first foray for jazz events in the South. The festival will bring together diverse audiences in the Souss-Massa region around a common passion, jazz, which transcends cultural and geographic borders. This event will also be the occasion for meetings with local artists, workshops, and discussions related to jazz, its teaching, and general artistic practice.

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