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Business Brief: Prominent Companies Detail Plans for Morocco; Conferences Announced on Pipeline Infrastructure and Renewable Energy; Germans and Moroccans Talk Energy

Jean R. AbiNaderMATIC
September 18, 2017

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

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

Major international companies are headed to Morocco as a base for doing business in Africa. Casablanca and Marrakech prepare to host conferences focused on business in Africa. Senior German and Moroccan officials discuss energy…in Mexico!

Companies look to future in Africa from Morocco. The Moroccan economy holds many opportunities for investments, a prime sector being agri-business. KWS, the giant seed company headquartered in Germany, has invested more than $10 million in Morocco over the past five years to build up its range of services. Looking at its success so far, it intends to invest at least that much again, if not more, by 2020 to build up its local operations into a hub for expanding into regional markets. Its initial foray was in developing several varieties of sugar beet adapted to Morocco’s agro-ecological conditions, providing high yields, with a high sugar content and good tolerance to disease. KWS is active in more than 70 countries, and its new investments will enable it to become a leader in Morocco and the region.

Sopra Banking Software is looking to strengthen its presence in Africa, the Middle East, and Europe from its headquarters in Casablanca. A subsidiary of Sopra Steria, the European leader in digital transformation, it believes that its experience in becoming a preferred supplier to the banking sector will enable it to succeed in other markets. Sopra recently set up facilities in Casablanca Finance City (CFC) to take advantage of its regional networks into Africa and the Middle East. Since 2014, Sopra has been building its market share on the continent, and has greatly expanded its client portfolio, in many instances following the expansion of Morocco banks abroad. It is recruiting locally and intends to have 300 employees in the Kingdom.

Not to miss out on an opportunity to extend its reach into Africa, Lloyd’s of London has announced that it will set up its Francophone African operations hub in the CFC. Currently negotiating an agreement with the Moroccan insurance regulator ACAPS, Lloyd’s is working out details regarding the transfers of premiums, and is committed to offering training and technical services to clients.

Conferences on the horizon. Two energy-related conferences will be held in in Casablanca November 29 – December 1. The Africa Renewable Energy Forum, which debuted at COP22, is a pan-African meeting for stakeholders driving forward renewable energy, including government ministers, heads of African utilities, and some of the biggest global investors in renewable energy.

The Gas Options – North and West Africa meeting will focus on gas-to-power projects in the two regions. All 12 countries involved in the Morocco-Nigeria Gas Pipeline project will likely attend to discuss next steps and the benefits of the project in developing the region. Investors and energy decision-makers will be invited to participate in discussions with the public sector on how they can contribute to the project. This meeting has the support of the National Office of Hydrocarbons and Mines (ONHYM) and participation from Director General Amina Benkhadra.

Speaking of energy. On the sidelines of the “World Energy Leaders” conference in Mexico last week, Secretary General of the Moroccan Ministry of Energy, Mining, and Sustainable Development Abderrahim El Hafidi met with German state secretary for energy Rainer Baake. The countries have a bilateral partnership agreement promoting energy projects, and this was an opportunity to discuss current progress and future plans for an energy prospects modeling center to chart potential developments. German companies, such as Siemens, are already present in the energy sector in the Kingdom. Looking ahead, the two countries are looking at the possibility of linking renewable technology with seawater desalination to enable Morocco to meet its energy and potable water needs.

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