* Part II of series examining economic, social, & human development progress in Morocco *
July 30 marks the 15th anniversary of King Mohammed VI’s ascension to the throne. In evaluating the accomplishments of an American President, one often asks: “are you better off now than you were four years ago?” The following images will demonstrate just how much Morocco has changed, for the better, in the past fifteen years. The first part of this series looked at jobs and the overall economic environment. Now we’ll take a look at human development.
Health and Access to Care
Quite simply, Moroccans are living longer. The steady climb of life expectancy is the result of many things, from better health care to better quality of life in general.
The improving healthcare system, including better access, starts at birth. In Morocco, there continues to be a steady rise in proper birth registrations, especially in rural areas where access to healthcare is more difficult. Prenatal care has likewise increased by 10 percent from 2004 to 2011.
Improving primary school enrollment is a major emphasis in Morocco, and the results are astonishing. The overall enrollment rate has gone from about 70 percent to over 98 percent in 14 years. Notably, the gender gap has almost completely been eradicated.
With the booming school enrollment, Morocco is also working to increase the quality of education, starting with the hiring of thousands of new primary school teachers. Not only is the overall literacy rate way up, but the percentage of students moving on to secondary school has increased as well.
Access to Financial Services
Morocco’s remarkable economic advancement of the past 15 years was covered in part I, but part of this growth involves the expansion of domestic private credit, which provides mobility and flexibility to consumers and businesses. The last 8 years have demonstrated strong and consistent growth in the domestic credit market, which Morocco supports through regulations supporting banks, investment, and individual credit ratings systems.
Morocco is home to several of Africa’s leading banks, with an expansive and growing reach across the continent. Back at home; this has resulted in greater access to financial services for Moroccans, as demonstrated by the fast growth of commercial bank branches, which doubled in only 5 years.
Mobility and Travel
Moroccans are also becoming more physically mobile. Car ownership rates in Morocco have come close to doubling in the past 15 years, with steady growth throughout. Likewise, the overall road network has expanded, and the percentage of roads that are paved has increased by 25 percent since 1999.
Moroccans are also moving about the country more by train. Railway passengers more than doubled in only 9 years. Increased regional trade, tourism, and labor mobility are all likely benefits of people moving around the country more.
Moroccans are also expanding their global reach. The growth of air transport to and from Morocco is less stable, but the overall trend is overwhelmingly positive. Tourism likely plays a role, but Moroccans are also more able to use air travel as the GDP per capita continues to grow.
Better economic and human development conditions play a role in the reduction of the overall poverty rate. The national rate nearly halved from 1999 to 2007, with the biggest impact in rural areas that are most in need. In cities, Morocco also prioritizes the elimination of slums, which dovetails with its efforts to minimize endemic poverty. From Morocco’s High Planning Commission: