Last week, Marrakech welcomed 350 participants from 19 different countries to the World Investment Conference (WIC) North Africa to discuss the opportunities and potential offered to foreign investors by North African economies.
Abdelkader Amara, Morocco's Minister of Trade, Industry, and New Technologies inaugurated the event by stressing the importance of "putting North African countries on the map" for international investors, and mentioned the significant investments made in Morocco by leading companies such as Renault, Safran, and Bombardier. The latter, one of North America's premier specialty aircraft manufacturers, confirmed during the conference its intention to build its own factory near Casablanca, with plans to have a workforce of 850 employees by 2020. It is currently operating in leased facilities in the Free Zone.
"After the Arab Spring, it is clear that investors are worrying about the conditions of stability in the region. It is a brake on investments even if Morocco appears to be a case apart," said Jean-Pierre Chauffour, Chief Economist at the World Bank in Morocco. However, for many companies at the WIC, prospects are very promising since they came to the region. "In Africa, especially in the North, we have seen a growth last year of 20 percent. Many companies in Europe would love to be close to this dynamism," said Alain Viry, chairman and CEO of CFAO (formerly Pinault Primtemps Redoute SA). Another star at the WIC was TAQA, the Abu Dhabi National Energy Company, who received the "Best Partnership Award 2012," for its $1.6 billion investment to build an extension to the Jorf Lasfar thermal power plant. This represents the biggest investment in Morocco in the past ten years.
By showcasing the varied opportunities in North Africa and by giving existing companies a platform to share their success stories, the WIC provides investors with assurances that Morocco offers the security and stability needed to support their investments and business growth.
L'usine Nouvelle (March 21, 2013)