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Bank Turned Think Tank: Attijariwafa’s Newest Foray

Comments (0) Africa, Business, Featured


The African Development Club, launched in February by banking giant Attijariwafa, promises to be an exclusive club providing members with access to a platform connecting developers and investors.

Morocco’s largest bank, Attijariwafa, has recently announced a new development forum called the African Development Club. This club was created by the Casablanca-based institution to provide developers and investors with a platform for meetings and exchanges across the continent. Since January 25th, representatives from Africa’s biggest banks have crisscrossed the continent, presenting this new initiative to the leaders of Africa’s most substantial companies. Attijariwafa Bank is the largest bank on the continent in terms of branches: 3,400 outlets across the continent. The bank is often recognized for its ability to connect Morocco with greater Sub-Saharan Africa through trade relations. It is for this reason that Attijariwafa was able to create its own think tank.

Going Their Own Way

Attijariwafa Bank is more than 100 years old, has more than 6.8 million customers and employs more than 16,000 Africans across the continent. As part of the King of Morocco’s holding company, Attijariwafa has unprecedented access to Moroccan business opportunities–which is why Attijariwafa was so well equipped to launch this exclusive development group.

At the 2015 African Development Forum, hosted by Attijariwara Bank, Mohamed Kettani said that “South-South cooperation is vital. So we must create larger, cross-frontier trading spaces. We have to make the most of the mutualization and the complementarity of our resources and our economies. But we can’t do it without the North, because today in Morocco we are meeting international investors, from Europe, the US, and Asia, who are making Morocco a platform where part of the value is created in Morocco, another part in the North, and a third part in the countries south of Morocco.” Instead of waiting for change to happen, Kettani took matters into Attijariwara’s capable hands.

In December of 2015, the African Development Club was launched: Kettani promoted it as “an open African community whose purpose is to build an inter-priority network of decision makers and economic operators, development opportunities generator and reflections on trade and investment on the continent.” By creating a network of businesses, Attijariwafa is doing what many believe African governments have failed to do in the past: inspire real development through cross-continental economic ties, unhindered by the weight of political relationships. Perhaps unsurprisingly for a club developed by a financial institution, this club will only be open to those willing to pay.

Getting Down to Business

Attijariwafa Presences

Attijariwafa Presences

Mounir Oudghiri, director and general manager of Attijariwafa’s Senegalese subsidiary, explained the African Development Club as “a kind of Bluetooth, a private network open to those who want to be a part. This is an accelerator and integrator of mastering the best information possible to speed up the business.” The club gives access to more than 30,000 of Africa’s most influential business people. Not only will this group make use of its existing strengths, but it aims to provide vocational training for emerging business experts. Attijariwafa Bank prides itself upon its educational opportunities for its thousands of employees. As a self-designated pan-African bank, ensuring that all employees, from all backgrounds and regions, are up to par with their international counterparts is of the utmost importance. It stands to reason that Attijariwafa would similarly emphasize the importance of capacity building between and amongst club members.

The club will also provide its members with a database of potential connections in more than 180 countries and is primarily aimed at business leaders, the influential and the wealthy both inside and outside of Africa. Attijariwafa has strategic partnerships with several Chinese banks, and as China’s investment in Africa grows, this can only be a promising region of investment for the business savvy. By working across state borders to forge economic ties, members of the African Development Group will be able to draw upon the experience and various fields of expertise of their peers, thus giving way to a rich business environment.

Will it Work?

There are, of course, a variety of potential flaws to this plan: by requiring members to pay a fee to belong, budding entrepreneurs without the capital to cover the costs will be excluded. This threatens to widen the income gap between the wealthy elite, who will be members and thus have access to an enormous number of important individuals and businesses, and small businesses that have thus far been excluded from development. If the members of the African Development Club choose to invest in their communities–be it through a micro-lending program, infrastructure development or encouraging young people to stay in school with vocational training incentives–then this club could very well change the face of development in Africa.

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Morocco annual inflation eases to 0.3% in January

Comments (0) Business, Latest Updates from Reuters, Middle East

RABAT (Reuters) – Morocco’s annual consumer price inflation eased to 0.3 percent in January from 0.6 percent in December, mainly due to falling food prices, the country’s High Planning Authority said on Monday.

Food inflation eased to 0.2 percent from 1.1 percent from January 2015 to January 2016. Non-food price inflation rose at 0.6 percent, from 0.2 percent in December.

Transport costs fell 0.4 percent, while hotels and restaurants were 2.3 percent more expensive, the agency said.

On a month-on-month basis, the consumer price index eased to 0.1 percent in January, down from 0.5 percent in December. Food price inflation fell 0.3 percent, while non-food inflation dropped 0.1 percent.


(Reporting by Aziz El Yaakoubi; editing by Katharine Houreld)

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Morocco’s first solar power plant opened by King Mohammed VI

Comments (1) Business, Featured, Middle East

Ouarzazate solar

King Mohammed VI switches on Morocco’s first solar power plant that is set to provide over a million homes with power.

The edge of the Sahara desert, just 12 miles outside of the city Ouarzazate is now home to a glittering spectacle that is set to be the world’s largest solar power plant.

After beginning construction on May 10th, 2013 the project has succeeded in completing stage one of its epic operations. Covering a spans the size of 35 football fields, the 800 rows of 500,000 crescent-shaped solar mirrors make up Noor I. This is the first of a complex of four linked solar power plants that once completed in 2018, will finally occupy a site larger than the country’s capital, Rabat, which is home to 1.4 million people.

Instead of utilizing the more familiar photovoltaic panels that are now a common sight on rooftops around the world, ‘the door of the desert’ site uses mirror technology which despite being less common and more expensive, has the advantage of continuously producing power even after the sun has gone down.

As NASA’s Kathryn Hansen explained, “The system at Ouarzazate uses 12 meter-tall (39 foot-tall) parabolic mirrors to focus energy onto a fluid-filled pipeline. The pipeline’s hot fluid is the heat source used to warm the water and make steam. The plant doesn’t stop delivering energy at night time or when clouds obscure the sun; heat from the fluid can be stored in a tank of molten salts.”

Royal inauguration

ouarzazateOn Thursday 4th February, 2016 the plant welcomed royal guest King Mohammed VI to inaugurate the countries first ever solar power plant. The ceremony was attended by the head of government, members of the government and foreign officials, including French Environment Minister Ségolène Royal who said it inspired, “great hope to all countries with a lot of sun and desert” to produce solar energy.

As the opening took place construction works commenced on the plants Noor II and Noor III sites, while for Noor IV, a call for tenders was opened. Once completed the full complex is expected to provide 1.1 million homes with power.

The king is said to be confident in the immense capacity his country has to offer renewable energies, from the Atlantic wind to the Saharan sun.

Solar superpower

It is hoped that for a country who has no claim to fossil fuel, this will be its opportunity to become self-sufficient. Additionally it plans to enter onto an international platform, providing fuel for countries worldwide. No small fry for a country that has been the biggest importer of fuel in North Africa, the venture will bring both economic and geopolitical value.

As Morocco’s Minister of the Environment Hakima el-Haite recently highlighted, “We are not an oil producing country. We import 94% of our energy, which has serious consequences for our state budget. We also have the weight of fossil fuel subsidies, so when we heard about the potential of solar power, we thought, why not?”

The country has pledged that 42% of its electricity will come from renewable energy by 2020. By 2030 they vow to have decreased their CO2 emissions by 32%, a commitment made as part of the climate conference in Paris (COP 21) that Morocco is determined to honor.

Raising the bar

As the official hosts of this year’s COP 22, Morocco is setting a precedent with the huge investment into renewable energy. However, they are by no means new to the fight against climate change. In fact since the 1960’s Morocco has shown a firm dedication to protecting the planet with a dams, agriculture and water strategy, followed more recently in 2008 by the energy strategy.

By investing in what it has, Morocco is investing in the future of its people and more far reaching, in the future of the planet. The added bonus being that by extricating itself from major financial outgoings it allows money to remain within the country and the possibility of exporting becomes very real, as more and more countries look for alternatives to fossil fuels. Could Morocco become one of the world’s biggest suppliers? Only time will tell but one thing is for certain, as Thierry Lepercq, CEO of the Paris-based Solaire Direct, acknowledged, “Solar is a true revolution,” and Morocco is at the forefront of that revolution.

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Morocco trade deficit falls 18.7% in 2015

Comments (0) Business, Latest Updates from Reuters, Middle East

RABAT (Reuters) – Morocco’s trade deficit fell 18.7 percent to 152.27 billion dirhams ($15.43 billion) in 2015 compared with a year earlier, thanks to lower import costs and higher exports, the foreign exchange regulator said on Friday.

Energy imports fell by 28 percent from a year earlier to 66.84 billion dirhams, data showed. Wheat imports also fell 32.6 percent as the local harvest hit a record high last year.

Total imports fell 5.6 percent and total exports rose 6.7 percent from a year earlier to 214.27 billion dirhams, led by a 21 percent rise in auto exports and 16.3 percent hike in phosphate sales.

Exports covered 58.5 percent of imports for the first time in 10 years, the regulator said.

Tourism receipts dropped 1.4 percent to 58.51 billion dirhams, while remittances from the 4.5 million Moroccans living abroad rose 3 percent to 61.75 billion dirhams.

Foreign direct investment jumped 6.7 percent to 39 billion dirhams.


Figures are in billions of dirhams:


Jan-Dec Jan-Dec Jan-Nov

2015 2014 2015

EXPORTS 214.27 200.80 195.29

IMPORTS 366.53 388.08 335.32

BALANCE -152.27 -187.27 -140.02


REMITTANCES 61.75 59.97 56.68


RECEIPTS 58.51 59.31 54.66


INVESTMENT 39.01 36.55 33.96


($1 = 9.8654 Moroccan dirham)


(Reporting by Aziz El Yaakoubi; Editing by Alison Williams)

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Moroccan insurer AFMA aims to raise $18 million in share listing

Comments (0) Business, Latest Updates from Reuters, Middle East


RABAT (Reuters) – Moroccan insurance broker AFMA SA plans to raise 180 million dirham ($18 mln) in an initial public share offer, the country’s stock market watchdog said on Monday.

AFMA is owned by private Moroccan holding company Tenor group, which has subsidiaries in distribution, real estate and media. AFMA’s revenues have increased by about 10 percent annually over the last three years and reached 82.8 million dirhams for the first half of 2015, the company’s data showed.

The initial public offering (IPO) would be the second this year on the Casablanca stock exchange this year, which has suffered from the knock-on effects of the euro zone crisis and a lack of foreign investors.

Total Maroc listed in May.

Casablanca’s benchmark MASI index has fallen 3.7 percent this year. Morocco was downgraded to “frontier market” status by index provider MSCI in 2013, due to a lack of liquidity in the market.

Stock market watchdog CDVM said it had approved the issue. AFMA will sell 250,000 shares, or 25 percent of its shares, and they have been priced at 750 dirhams apiece. The offering is expected from Nov. 30 to Dec. 2.

Tenor group agreed also to sell 20 percent of the company’s shares in a block trade to Moroccan institutional investors CIMR and Fipar Holding for 130 million dirhams once the IPO is completed. CIMR is a pension fund for the private sector while Fipar is an affiliate of Morocco’s state investment vehicle Caisse de Depot et de Gestion (CDG).

CDVM said CIMR and Fipar had agreed to keep their stakes for at least three years.

(Reporting By Aziz El Yaakoubi; Editing by Susan Fenton, Reuters)

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Moroccan inflation eases to 1.6% y/y in September

Comments (0) Africa, Business, Latest Updates from Reuters

RABAT (Reuters) – Morocco’s consumer price inflation eased to an annual 1.6 percent in September from 1.7 percent in August as non-food prices dropped, the High Planning Authority said on Thursday.

Food inflation rose slightly to 3.9 percent from 3.5 percent in the 12 months to August. Non-food price inflation eased to 0.2 percent from 0.4 percent in the previous month.

Transport costs fell 4.7 percent, while hotels and restaurants were 2.3 percent more expensive, the agency said, without elaborating.

On a month-on-month basis, the consumer price index rose 0.2 percent in September, compared to 0.1 percent in August. Food price inflation was steady at 0.2 percent on the month while non-food inflation eased to 0.1 percent.

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Morocco subsidy spending to fall to $1.6 billion in 2016

Comments (0) Africa, Latest Updates from Reuters, Politics

Parliament morocco

RABAT (Reuters) – The Moroccan government plans to spend 15.5 billion dirhams ($1.61 billion) on subsidies, down from 23 billion dirhams budgeted for this year, the 2016 draft national budget seen by Reuters showed.

The kingdom expects subsidies of only 14 billion dirham in 2015 – down from budgeted 23 billion – thanks to lower energy prices.

Morocco started to repair its public finances three years ago after huge deficits in 2012 when the government spent billions to calm Arab Spring-like protests.

Morocco has done more than most North African countries to make painful changes required by international lenders to curb deficits, such as ending fuel subsidies and freezing public sector hiring. The government still controls the prices of wheat, sugar and cooking gas.

In another move to step up with the subsidy reform, the government is planning to fully liberalize gasoline and diesel prices on December 1.

The government has said gross domestic product (GDP) would grow by 3 percent in 2016, down from an estimated 5 percent in 2015.

The forecast is more ambitious than that of Morocco’s planning agency, which had said the economy would grow by 2.6 percent in 2016 as agricultural output fell from an exceptional 2015.

Agriculture accounts for more than 15 percent of the economy, with this year’s cereal harvest hitting a record 11 million tonnes.

The budget deficit is expected to come in at 3.5 percent of GDP in 2016, down from 4.3 percent in 2015, while inflation is seen at 1.7 percent, according to government estimates.


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World Economic Forum Reveals Morocco as North Africa’s Most Competitive Country

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Preparations Ahead Of The Davos World Economic Forum 2015

According to the latest report by the World Economic Forum (WEF), at 72nd Morocco is the most competitive country in Northern Africa (an improvement from the previous report), and ranked 4th in all of Africa. Above are Mauritius, South Africa and Rwanda at 39th, 56th and 62nd respectively. Morocco is making a transition toward lower, and eventually, elimination of subsidized government spending through collaboration with international lenders, and more toward innovation, education, and free trade leading to overall economic amelioration.


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Why Morocco intervened in Yemen?

Comments (0) Politics


In light of the downing of a Moroccan F-16 jet in Yemen, the question “Why is Morocco intervening in the Yemen crisis?” must be asked. The Foreign Ministry has abandoned its legendary discretion and The Royal Air Force – along with a Saudi Arabia led coalition- is engaging in Yemen against Houthi Shiite rebels. Why does Morocco have an interest in this? Here are some explanations.

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