OBG’s interview with the Moroccan minister is part of its research on the impact of COVID-19 on emerging market economies.
Beyond industry, the discussion also touched on implications for sustainable development and digitization efforts.
OBG’s interview with the Moroccan minister is part of its research on the impact of COVID-19 on emerging market economies. The Moroccan Investment and Export Development Agency is OBG’s research partner on the project.
The OBG host began by requesting the minister’s assessment of Morocco’s COVID-19 response. Elalamy emphasized King Mohammed VI‘s proactive instructions in preparing for the pandemic, before the closure of borders.
Elalamy revealed he received “clear instructions” directly from the King. The directives came to ensure supplies in the country to meet Moroccans’ demand.
“The King commanded us to prepare and produce masks, because we didn’t have any in Morocco. We were working very hard and in earnest in order to satisfy all of the requirements we had in terms of ensuring the protection of the health of Moroccans.”
Elalamy was surprised by the responsiveness of several counterparts in Morocco’s industrial sector to every requirement of his ministry.
The minister shed light on the provision of hand sanitizer, which Morocco, like any other country facing the pandemic, needed to secure.
“In order to manufacture it [hand sanitizer] we needed Ethanol. We had a plant that produced ethanol … and we had to renovate it and rebuild it. Initial estimates provided eight to 14 months before it would be made operational … we rebuilt it and recommissioned it within one week.” Elalamy added that this was a great example of “swift response.”
A comfortable supply of protective face masks has marked Morocco’s COVID-19 response. The minister revealed to OBG the vision behind Morocco’s manufacturing of face masks. Some tissue bag companies quickly converted in order to adapt to the ministry’s production requirement.
Elalamy explained, “we thought about how to make face masks, because we did not want to depend on imports from China or elsewhere.”
As for ventilators, Elalamy recalled that Morocco had never made them before the pandemic. “Three teams of engineers are making exceptionally good ventilators,” he said. “We are talking about ventilators and respirators that are used in intensive care units of top notch quality.”
Elalamy declared Moroccan ventilators are not less performant, if not more performant, than German equipment. “This performance, I did not expect myself to see.”
The aeronautical factory SERMP was able to manufacture 500 ventilators to benefit COVID-19 patients as of April.
Beyond Morocco’s COVID-19 response
Elalamy said that Morocco started thinking in a more serious manner about dependence when the virus first hit China. “When you have a pandemic that starts in China, you would have chain reactions in terms of the impacts you will suffer.”
The official said that Morocco has a “strong resolve” to continue serving friendly nations as a partner. He highlighted Morocco’s “exceptionally good” ties with European countries.
“We continue to be a complementary production platform. We do not have the intent nor the ambition to replace China’s industry,” he said.
“However, in Morocco, we can be a valuable element of the puzzle that makes European and American competition today.”
Elalamy explained how the COVID-19 crisis benefited Morocco on the level of internal policy. It lifted barriers between ministries and governmental agencies, as well as psychological barriers between citizens.
The social and political changes, also led, according to the minister, to the digitalization of administrations.