ECONOMICALLY, Morocco represents a kind of happy island within the African continent, particularly in North Africa. Spared from the so-called Arab Spring, in recent years the country governed by Muhammad VI has profoundly transformed its economy, while continuing to post very high rates of growth. Currently, industry, trade and services represent three developed and solid national sectors, standing alongside the more traditional agricultural sector. It is therefore no coincidence that the North African monarchy is the preferred destination for foreign capital entering the African continent, attracted by a favourable environment for entrepreneurship, as well as opportunities offered by its strategic geographical location, overlooking the Atlantic on one side, and very close to the European Union on the other.
Italian companies are among those showing the greatest interest in recent times. Automotive component maker Magneti Marelli, for instance, has announced that it will build a plant in the Tangier area for the production of automotive components. The project, which will be launched in 2019, envisions 37 million euro in overall investments. The planned industrial site will be located in the Tanger Automotive City, a dedicated free zone, and will cover an area of about 20,000 square meters, with the possibility of subsequent extensions. The plant will have a production capacity of around 6 million units at full capacity. The workforce is expected to reach 500 employees by 2025. “We are pleased to support Morocco in one of the country’s strategic objectives: the development of its automotive industry,” said Pietro Gorlier, managing director of the company, which is a subsidiary of FCA.
Magneti Marelli’s investment is an addition to an already highly developed automotive hub. Renault has been present in Morocco since 2012, with a factory located in Dacia, which last year reached its million-vehicle mark, and the French carmaker recently decided to invest almost a billion euros there with the creation of a global supply-chain platform. In addition to the commitment shown by Renault, which has 50,000 employees in the country, there’s the contribution of Valeo (car components) that opened a new integrated industrial centre within the TangerMed port. That French group invested 50 million euro to directly supply Peugeot-Citroen’s Kenitra facility, and Renault’s at TangerMed, with surplus production destined for export to Europe and the United States.
Also noteworthy, in the energy sector, another cornerstone of the Moroccan economy, was the acquisition of a 48% stake in Masdar Energy, a company that deals with energy efficiency, on behalf of Italy’s Green Power Group, a company listed on the AIM Italia index. Morocco’s energy plan envisages investments worth 40 billion dollars over a period of 15 years, three-quarters of which are destined to the development of green energy facilities. Indeed, the government in Rabat has itself set a goal of achieving 52% of energy needs through green power generation by 2030. Enel Green Power is also active in Morocco, engaged in the construction, together with Nareva and Siemens, of five wind farms, that will provide a total of 850 MW power. The facilities at Midelt (150 MW), Tanger (100 MW) and Jbel Lahdid (200 MW), are located in northern Morocco, while those at Tiskrad (300 MW) and Boujdour (100 MW) are located in the country’s south. The implementation of the project, which will be completed by 2020, provides for 1 billion euro in overall investments.
But it’s the buoyancy of the service sector, too, that stands as proof of just how much Morocco’s economy has evolved. Recently, Milan-based company Sisal has arrived in the country. The firm won a tender by Morocco’s National Lottery Management Company (SGLN) for “the implementation of outsourcing services and services related to the supply, installation and maintenance of a new gambling system.” Beginning January 1, 2019, Sisal will operate and develop an array of gambling options which will include fixed odds, national lottery games, instant lotteries, computerized gambling, virtual races, and MILs (Interactive Lottery Machines).