Rabat - For U.S. investments, Morocco is the gateway to the African continent. The Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), the U.S. government's development finance institution specializing in investing in the private sector abroad, has announced this week that it will double or even triple its $200 million of projects already in the study phase in Morocco, reported business daily L'Economiste.
Rabat – For U.S. investments, Morocco is the gateway to the African continent. The Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), the U.S. government’s development finance institution specializing in investing in the private sector abroad, has announced this week that it will double or even triple its $200 million of projects already in the study phase in Morocco, reported business daily L’Economiste.
On the sidelines of a meeting with the General Confederation of Moroccan Businesses (GCEM) on Wednesday, OPIC said that its objective is to reach $500 to $600 million in engaged capitals. This is a little above MAD 5 billion and the Americans are eyeing several strategic sectors in the kingdom, including renewable energy, infrastructure, and tourism.
“We intend to diversify our portfolio in Morocco with priority sectors,” said Elizabeth Littlefield, CEO of OPIC. “We are very responsive to the funding requests by investors.”
According to L’Economiste, OPIC is supporting the financial offer of several American companies bidding for large governmental projects in the Moroccan renewable energy sector. “This is a priority sector for US private investors,” Littlefield said, adding that the American financial institution is also accompanying many American companies in other Sub-Saharan countries, mainly in Kenya where it is supporting an American company on a geothermal plant project with a loan of $310 million.
“We have also provided a loan of several hundred million dollars to build a power tri-fuel power plant in Togo, a large solar plant in South Africa and the wind power industry in Senegal,” she added.
In Morocco, OPIC is studying investment projects primarily funded by fully-American capitals or in joint ventures with Moroccan ones. “We also fund several projects in the SME sector, in partnership with private banks. The objective is to ensure the risks for banks to encourage them to lend more to SME’s, especially in rural areas and to businesswomen,” Littlefield was quoted by the French-speaking daily as saying.
Last August, OPIC has finalized an agreement with Attijariwafa Bank Group on the sidelines of the first US-Africa Leaders Summit that saw the participation of nearly 50 African nations in Washington, D.C. The agreement should be extended to other African countries where the Moroccan group is already established.
Established as an agency of the U.S. Government in 1971, OPIC is planning to strengthen its presence in African economies with high potentials such as Morocco.
“We are still very low on the ground, if not through the network of US embassies. We are very important in terms of mobilized capital, but still very limited in terms of human resources, said Littlefield.