Magharebia (Washington DC)

Morocco Embarks On New Industrial Strategy

Casablanca — Morocco's industries "will have the resources to match their ambitions, to raise their game, to develop and to reach out internationally".

That was the message hammered home by Industry Minister Moulay Hafid El Alamy when he spoke to reporters on Wednesday (April 2nd) following the presentation of Morocco's new industrial strategy to King Mohammed VI in Casablanca.

The new policy's goal is to create half a million jobs by 2020, driven by foreign direct investment and a reworked national industrial framework.

A number of measures are included in the National Industrial Accelerator Programme for 2014-2020.

Most importantly, there will be a new dynamism and a new relationship between the large businesses and SMEs, an enhanced role for industry as a major provider of employment - particularly to young people, and better use made of the social and economic benefits of public spending with help for industry, the government official said.

The objectives include help to move activities from the informal sector into the mainstream with the introduction of a comprehensive system for the integration of very small enterprises (TPEs). The plan also aims to resolve the crucial issue of matching skills to business needs.

Rented properties on industrial estates will also be more readily available to help solve the problem of shortage of premises. The government intends to make 1,000 hectares of public land available for rent.

As for finance, the banking sector is being called upon to offer active support for industry. There will also be a reworking of the system of public underwriting for SMEs. In addition, a public industrial investment fund (FDI) will be created with a budget of 20 billion dirhams (1.8 billion euros) by 2020. This level of funding has never been seen before, El Alamy said.

"This policy will strengthen our industrial fabric, modernise it and develop its capacity to replace the products we now import," the minister commented.

Thanks to the new strategy, industry's share of GDP should increase from 14% to 23% in 2020.

Industry figures were delighted at the launch of this kind of strategy. According to Meriem Bensalah-Chaqroun, who chairs the Moroccan General Business Confederation (CGEM), this programme will give a new impetus to the industrial sector.

"The CGEM welcomes this plan and will help put it into action alongside other partners, to encourage competitiveness and breathe new life into the national economy," she told the press.

According to economist Ahmed Semmari, the new plan should address the real problems facing the sector.

"Industry has certainly made some advances in Morocco over recent years, particularly in terms of what are referred to as global trades: cars and aerospace. But there are some obstacles to be overcome, because Morocco is seen simply as a production site thanks to its labour force," Semmari said.

"However, we need to develop real expertise if Morocco is to have real industry of its own. We also need to consider how to deal with the problems of land availability and administrative processes," he told Magharebia.

Among the public, the hope is that the new strategy will breathe new life into the Moroccan economy and boost employment.

That point was emphasised by Bahija Rebbahi, a bank clerk: "Creating half a million jobs is an ambitious target for this new strategy. I hope all the real steps will actually be taken on the ground to achieve their aims."

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