News Notes: EU Expands Commitment to Moroccan Economic Growth; Innovations in OCP-Ghana Fertilizer Agreement; and Blockchain Economy Coming for Renewable Energy Sector – Jean R. AbiNader

Jean R. AbiNader
October 3, 2018

Jean R. AbiNader, Moroccan American Center

The EU and Morocco signed agreements to support small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and enhance the country’s social protection program. According to the EU, there are two programs that will receive support. The “Competitiveness and Green Growth” program will receive some $120 million to support start-ups and first time exporters, while improving the business climate and promoting recycling.

The program of support for social protection reform in Morocco “is a new chapter of [our] reinforced partnership, which will allow us to advance together towards a more just and more egalitarian society system,” explained Johannes Hahn, European Commissioner for European Neighborhood Policy & Enlargement Negotiations. It allocates $130 million to upgrade Morocco’s social services aimed at the most needy and marginalized. According to Johannes Hahn, the funds will contribute “to the reduction of inequalities and to the improvement of the social cohesion and human development of Moroccan society through the promotion of equitable access to basic social services.” He went on to say that Morocco is the EU’s major strategic partner in North Africa, and that “We share many common challenges and opportunities.”

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) added two efforts to improve Morocco’s economy. The first is aimed at Morocco’s packaging industry with financing of some $5.3 million to Multisac.SA, a Moroccan manufacturer with partners in more than 20 countries. It is the first local recipient of the EBRD’s and EU’s Value Chain and Competitiveness Program, “which aims to improve value chains and makes businesses more competitive in the country and across the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean region.” The company will also benefit from an investment grant under the FINTECC program (Finance and Technology Transfer Centre for Climate Change) to help it optimize its resources, minimize waste, and improve its purchasing, operations, and recycling efforts.

Under the agreement, “the EBRD will also provide experts for five years to advise the company on its growth strategy under its Blue Ribbon program, which targets high growth enterprises, offering them a combination of financial and advisory products. Multisac supplies several sectors, including the agricultural, food, manufacturing, chemicals and animal fodder industries.

The second EBRD effort is the launch of its Women in Business Program with “the aim of strengthening the national economy by unleashing the potential of female entrepreneurs.” Initially, it will provide around $35 million to two Moroccan banks “to support women-led small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The EBRD signed agreements with BMCE and BMCI. Other banks are expected to join the initiative.

The initial phase aims to work with at least 200 women entrepreneurs, through both financing and advisory services. Importantly, “a focus will be put on supporting entrepreneurs outside of Morocco’s main commercial centers. In addition to financing, women entrepreneurs receive business advice to make their businesses more competitive, as well as training, mentoring and network-building services, and also access to the EBRD’s online self-diagnostic, Business Lens. The training and mentoring allows women entrepreneurs to share experiences and learn from each other.”

Major move forward in fertilizer cooperation as OCP and Ghana collaborate “to optimize the fertilizer value chain in Ghana to provide customized fertilizers at affordable prices to farmers,” the OCP said in a statement. The fertilizer value chain will be improved at the farmer level, with targeted farmer-centric and agronomic initiatives, providing appropriate inputs to farmers and supporting them with adequate training, soil mapping, field trials, and fertilizer formula development. “The fertilizer value chain development will further include the introduction of fertilizer blending to allow the production of customized mineral fertilizers that will meet soil- and crop-specific nutrient requirements.”

The partners are also studying the feasibility of developing a fertilizer production capacity in Ghana that would combine its natural gas with phosphate from Morocco to produce locally appropriate, high quality, and affordable fertilizers.

Low-cost renewable energy in Morocco may soon benefit from the application of blockchain technology through a strategic partnership between SolunaTechnologies, Ltd and DMG Blockchain Solutions Inc. Soluna is developing a 37,000-acre wind farm in southern Morocco, which will be the largest in the world. The company’s energy systems and accompanying computing technology will be self-contained, distributed, scalable, and flexible, allowing it to achieve efficiencies only obtainable with utility-scale operations. The energy resources will be integrated with a suite of computing facilities to power next-generation blockchain breakthroughs.

DMG will handle hardware procurement, data center design, mining setup, remote hardware, and systems monitoring, including all necessary support services and a 5MW innovation lab in British Columbia. “Our partnership with DMG represents an important step forward for Soluna,” said John Belizaire, CEO, Soluna. “Having the right partners is critical, and DMG is best-in-class. DMG benefits from deep global expertise in building large-scale computing facilities and brings a wealth of blockchain mining and infrastructure knowledge to the project. As we plan the first stage of development for our project in Morocco, we are thrilled to have a seasoned partner to galvanize our efforts to create the world’s first vertically-integrated blockchain computing company.”

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