The project aims to increase financial inclusion by strengthening Morocco’s digital economy.
Rabat – Morocco’s Ministry of Economy and Finance signed off on a $700 million loan from the World Bank on March 14, launching extensive reforms for Morocco’s digital economy.
The program is the World Bank’s latest project in Morocco, part of their five-year “Country Partnership Framework,” which the two launched in February. The framework laid out the World Bank’s priorities for Morocco of job creation and human capital.
The release of the plans came at a “critical juncture” for Morocco economically, the World Bank said, pointing to the kingdom’s deepening reforms and upward—if sluggish—economic growth.
Now, its newest loan has brought the digital economy to the center of development efforts in Morocco.
Social inclusion through digital transformation
Less than one-third of Moroccans have access to a bank account (29 percent), substantially lower than the 44 percent average across the MENA region. A lack of access to such basic financial services—financial exclusion—hinders entrepreneurship and holds back economic growth.
The World Bank’s project will address the issue in part through digital transformation. Its reforms will expand the range of broadband internet and scale up the use of electronic transactions.
The intended result, it said, is an “inclusive digital ecosystem” for Morocco.
“Digital entrepreneurship is central to the current program,” said Djibrilla Issa, a financial sector specialist at the World Bank, in a press release. He explained that the project’s reforms would “unleash the potential of Morocco’s digital start-ups.”
Issa said that an enhanced digital economy will particularly benefit Moroccan women, who often face greater barriers for financial services. The World Bank will monitor the results of its reforms on the gender gap in the workplace.
A longstanding relationship with Morocco
The World Bank’s latest project in Morocco is the latest chapter of their “longstanding, multisectoral engagement” with the country, it said.
The World Bank scaled up its work in Morocco in 2010 and have since lent the country an average of $748 million annually, through projects that have addressed everything from pollution management to rural infrastructure. Only Egypt receives more money from the World Bank than Morocco, of MENA region countries.
At the March 14 signing ceremony, Moroccan Minister General Affairs and Governance Lahcen Daoudi quashed rumors that the World Bank had imposed its own agenda on the kingdom with such projects.
“The World Bank is a good partner for Morocco,” he said, noting that the project lines up with the Moroccan government’s stated development goals, such as its five-year program.
The World Bank also approved an MAD $700 million loan in February to help Morocco fight unemployment—one of the 18 other World Bank projects presently active in Morocco.