Rabat - There are still lapses in Morocco’s development model, and there is room for improvement on many issues, “But we are almost there.”
Rabat – There are still lapses in Morocco’s development model, and there is room for improvement on many issues, “But we are almost there.”
The optimistic tone came at the end of a talk on Morocco’s public investment policies by Othman El Ferdaous, secretary of state for investment and assistant to the minister of industry.
El Ferdaous, who was speaking at a policy talk organized by Moroccan think tank OCP Policy Center at the Rabat School of Governance and Economy (EGE), succinctly presented Morocco’s industrial vision of mobilizing 11 percent of its investment capacity.
He particularly mentioned the success of the “industrial acceleration policy,” a 2014-2020 vision designed to boost Moroccan entrepreneurship, gap the disconnect between the labor market and higher education curricula, and increase Morocco’s economic output.
Despite persisting obstacles, Morocco’s international standing, particularly in terms of knowledge production—the number of PhDs delivered by Moroccan universities—and poverty reduction, has markedly improved in recent years, El Ferdaous told the audience.
Morocco’s ‘African dynamic’
As the kingdom’s “institutional family,” Africa is a big part of Morocco’s industrial ambitions.
King Mohammed VI’s Africa Agenda has revitalized Morocco’s presence on the continent, making Morocco the second biggest African investor in Africa.
When asked what Morocco hopes to bring to the continental table and whether Rabat is ready to compete with other regional giants, El Ferdaous said that it is important that African countries start looking at the relentless pace of globalization as full of potential opportunities, rather than only as a threat to the continent.
“For Morocco’s Africa-focused vision to materialize, however, African states need to communicate and give more weight to intra-African exchanges. Morocco’s bid to be more assertive in the rest of Africa entails fighting side by side with other African countries, not against them. We will be with Nigeria rather than compete with it,” he said.
Referring to the Sous Moussa same region-focused initiative, an investment framework that makes it possible for project bearers to invest beyond the level of their financial means, that investment possibilities have markedly increased for Moroccan entrepreneurs, regardless of their capital level.
As for Morocco’s South-South initiative and its application to join the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), El Ferdaous insisted on living up to the challenges of new regional and political realities.
He explained: “It really is time to sideline old ideas of regional integration in order to practice the now prevailing policy of integration through investment.”
The suggestion is a veiled rebuttal to critics of Morocco’s ECOWAS bid. The critics say that Morocco’s eligibility to the regional body is questionable because the North African country is not geographically located in West Africa.
Investing in human capital
But how ready is Morocco to face the competition of other players—particularly non-African—who are increasingly investing in the continent? And, with the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) in other parts of the world, giving them precedence over Africa in the scramble to master and perhaps dominate the tools of the digital world, can Morocco’s “pan-African foreign policy” prevail?
“The advent of AI is a human capital issue. So the challenge is to invest in knowledge production and to train experts equipped enough to compete with others in the digital world. [Morocco’s] industrial plan expects to train 500,000 youths in matters related to technology and AI.
“This is a huge target, but we are sure to reach it. And the existing figures are very indicative of the level that has so far been attained. There sure are other things left to do to ensure that Morocco is able to absorb its productive capacities. But we are almost there.”