Business Brief: EU to Assess Local Benefits of Fisheries Agreement; Moroccan Insurance Sector Grows Quickly; African IT Expo in Rabat in October; OCP and Morocco Work to Promote African Entrepreneurship – Jean R. AbiNader

Jean R. AbiNader
September 5, 2018

Jean R. AbiNader, Moroccan American Center

To shore up the basis for the EU’s decision on renewing its fisheries agreement with Morocco, a delegation of members of the European Parliament (MEPs) visited Morocco this past week to assess the “benefits and benefits of the fisheries agreement,” meeting with government officials, agencies, and locals. Members of the INTA Committee on Trade Agreements and Trade went to the Moroccan Sahara to meet with local residents to determine if the preferential rights provided by the agreements on fisheries and agriculture actually benefited them.

The trip was arranged by The Morocco-European Union Joint Parliamentary Committee, chaired by Abderrahim Atmoun. He noted that recent revisions to the existing agreements were “likely to optimize the benefits and benefits of these agreements for the local populations of the Moroccan Sahara while respecting the principles of sustainable management of fisheries resources and equity “. He mentioned that the visit was the last step in the negotiations process on the fisheries agreement and the application of future agreements. Atmoun said that the bilateral meetings were  “marked by a constructive spirit and the commitment of both parties to strengthen their partnership in the agriculture and fisheries sectors.”

Oxford Business Group, in its continuing analysis of Morocco’s economy, recently reported on the growth of the insurance sector. Major growth indicators included an increase in total turnover of some $4.08 billion, representeding a 20.2% rise in profits. According to the data provided by the Moroccan Capital Markets Authority, the insurance industry regulator ACAPS and the Central Bank, premiums grew by 11% to some $4 billion, with non-life insurance representing a 56.1% growth and automobile insurance, the country’s most mature market, accounting for 27.1% of last year’s turnover.

With the approval of Islamic banking regulations earlier this year, takaful, or Islamic insurance products are waiting in the queue for the go-ahead. The main condition in Morocco is that takafulcompanies must be standalone, offering exclusively Islamic products. Already US company Atlanta announced its partnering with a Qatari investor to launch an Islamic subsidiary, with AXA, a global French brand, also announcing its intentions to enter the market. As OBG reported, “The establishment of a takaful segment falls under the kingdom’s broader plan to develop Islamic financial servicesin the domestic market.”

ACAPS is already at work preparing a regulatory framework to international standards for conditions of solvency “for all activities and risks – including underwriting, and operational, investment policy and market risk – but will also help improve governance and promote transparency, with thresholds tailored to the Moroccan market.” Hassan Boubrik, president of ACAPS told OBG that “The new regulations aim to strengthen different aspects of how insurance works, both on qualitative and quantitative levels. We are improving our prudential control, governance and risk management to comply with international standards. The level of requirements will be increased in matters such as data protection, transparency, and reporting. The system should comply and regular audits will be conducted by the authorities.”

Morocco will again host the African IT Expo October 4-5 in Rabat. The third edition of the Expo will honor Benin and Rwanda among the 15 countries invited from Africa as part of the 25 international participants. Some 1000 participants are expected under the theme “What digital for Africa of the future?” With an emphasis on innovation and applications to African countries and companies, the Expo brings together investors, start-up companies, government officials, national and international players in the sector, universities, and entrepreneurs.

A key assumption of the organizers is that Africa has the potential to find solutions to its development challenges, a consistent theme of King Mohammed VI. By sharing experiences, creating opportunities for hackathon competitors, and identifying the means needed to succeed, the Expo is more than a forum for discussion; it emphasizes outcomes and B2B meetings to promote partnerships.

Key topics include: Technological innovations as an answer to emergence challenges in Africa; Public actors’ role in amplifying African innovations’; OpenGov to generate innovation and employment locally; Which transformations, digital innovations for the tourism sector by 2020?; and applications of digital technology to agriculture, health, ecosystems, and education.

A great example of how Morocco is working hard to drive entrepreneurship throughout Africa is OCP sponsored programs in Nigeria and elsewhere. Among various competitions sponsored in Nigeria, OCP is working with the Ecole 1337 Centre in Khouribga in support of an entrepreneurship academy that houses 150 participants who must pass through a competitive screening. According to a story in The National, they receive “free accommodation and feeding in an arrangement that looks like a technology hub. Participants engage each other in conversations meant to help in solving problems.”

Youssef Dahbt, one of the administrators of the 1337 Centre, said people are allowed to work as individuals and tackle challenges offered by the digital economy.  “There is a free environment to help youths innovate and develop applications and technological solutions.”

Also, Mohammed VI Polytechnic University located in the Green City of Benguerir in Morocco is partnering with several states in Nigeria; its work is supported by the OCP Foundation. The National reported that the university’s Head of Mission, Khalid Baddou, said one of the goals of the institution was to partner with Nigeria and other African countries to build start-ups around sustainable products. According to him, the marketplace is challenging, and many new ventures have difficulty developing technologies, and this is where the institution comes in to train Nigerians to launch and commercialize their businesses, thereby improving local economies and strengthening ties to their communities.

Baddou stressed that OCP, as part of its corporate social responsibility, supports nationwide efforts to promote skills development and entrepreneurship among young people. He added that through its entrepreneurship network, OCP aims to improve the Moroccan economy and create new opportunities for sustainable development. In fact, the special entrepreneurship track offered by OCP skills training centers in Khouribga and Benguerir host 300 youths and provide coaching for many start-ups.

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