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Moroccan Entrepreneurs Get a Boost and Tourism and Auto Sectors Note Growth. More Investments Announced in Renewable Energy and Mining As New Report Notes Growing Demand in the Digital Economy. – Jean R. AbiNader

Jean R. AbiNaderMATIC
December 18, 2017

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

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

CGEM represents Morocco in entrepreneurs showcase in Paris. On the theme “Africa – Land of Entrepreneurs,” the event focused on entrepreneurs who want to build businesses in Morocco to contribute to pan-African development. Participation was a joint effort by CGEM, the leading business association in Morocco, and the Moroccan Entrepreneurs Association (MEM). The goal is to build synergy between entrepreneurs abroad and their peers in Morocco.

The parties signed a memorandum of understanding that will enable them “to pool their efforts thus promoting cooperation between the two business communities.”

Morocco again shows strong tourism results, up 9% to 9.7 million through October 2017. This included a rise in foreign tourists of 14%, and expatriate Moroccans by 5%. Year on year, Germany is up 14%, the Netherlands by 8%, France 7%, while non-European markets showed strong growth with China up 203%, Japan by 40%, South Korea 33%, United States 30%, and Brazil by 51%, clearly validating Morocco’s push in those markets.

And the auto industry is on a roll, as Reuters carried the announcement that Morocco has signed deals for 26 industry projects worth some $1.45 billion. Six agreements are with Renault, the largest manufacturer in the Kingdom, to expand its industry ecosystem to attract more supply chain companies in order to increase local sourcing of car components to 55%. Peugeot will undertake 13 projects related to its factory under construction in Kenitra due to open in 2019 with an annual production capacity of 90,000 vehicles.

It is projected that 11,500 jobs will be created and that 11 of the companies will be new to Morocco. This does not include the recently announced electric car facility by BYD to be located near Tangier.

Renewable energy continues to rise in Morocco, according to an updated report by the Oxford Business Group, as the government increases its funding to drive sustainable energy consumption practices in the agricultural sector. Monies will be spent “to promote the use of solar energy to power water pumps for irrigation as part of a plan to expand agricultural water access to more than 100,000 hectares of new land by 2021. The move should also help reduce consumption of butane gas in farming operations, part of broader government efforts to shift towards clean energy.” The article points out that “In 2009 Morocco generated just 1.7% of its electricity from renewables, but by last year this had risen to 34%” from solar, wind, and hydroelectric power sources.

Mining sector gets a boost as South Africa’s Kasbah Resources announced that it will undertake an advanced feasibility study to identify optimization opportunities to improve its tin project in Morocco at a reduced risk. The improvements related primarily to site infrastructure, grinding, pulverizing, and ore sorting. Its revised plans call for a processing facility using modularized equipment with an initial capacity of 750,000 tons a year.

Ore sorting technology has progressed significantly over recent years with improved sensors and computing capacity and has the potential to increase the grade of ore entering the separation processes and as a result increase the recovery of tin in those circuits and lower operating costs,” the company explained.

The proposed initiatives, the company noted, were likely to result in higher up-front capital than the 2016 study indicated. However, the higher capital cost was expected to be offset by greater revenue in the initial years and a significant reduction in production risk.

Rising demand in cloud and data services is driving investment in new technological infrastructure according to an Oxford Business Group study. Both the public and private sectors are driving the demand for more digital capacity and utilization. A news hosting center for up to 10,000 servers has recently opening outside of Casablanca, “and builds on increasing local demand for cloud hosting and data storage services, ensuring data sovereignty for the private and public sectors.”

The company N+One is behind the new center, its second in Casablanca, and has another planned for the Rabat-Kenitra area. “The distance between the two centers and their positioning in different seismic zones is intended to provide storage and back-up in case of any technical problems, further strengthening the country’s digital backbone.”

This initiative echoes the government’s efforts to boost the technology skills of the Moroccan workforce. “Last year the government launched the Plan Maroc Numeric 2020, a medium-term strategy with the core aim of digitalizing up to 50% of all state administrative procedures within four years, and expanding the reach of the digital economy. To support these goals, increased funding has been allocated towards internet-enabling infrastructure, with additional support provided for digital literacy and computer training program in the school system.”

Others government programs include a digital innovation fund “to support social entrepreneurship projects, and implementing advanced skills training to deepen the national pool of engineers and technicians. The aim is to see a 10-fold increase in the number of IT professionals by 2020, increasing figures from present levels of 3000 to 30,000.”

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