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Another House Collapses in Morocco’s Casablanca

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Another House Collapses in Morocco’s Casablanca
Another House Collapses in Morocco’s Casablanca

Rabat – A dangerously-run down house collapsed on Wednesday morning in “Derb Jrane,” a neighborhood in the old medina of Casablanca.

The house was unoccupied, but its fall caused the partial collapse of a neighbouring building, Moroccan state media reported today.

Local authorities, security, and civil protection services visited the area to secure the neighboring buildings and start the search operations.

The operation enabled authorities to rescue one person.

Read Also: Authorities in Casablanca Begin Demolition of Ramshackle Buildings

“This operation continues to ensure the absence of other people,” the state media said.

Casablanca’s old medina has witnessed several similar incidents in recent weeks, causing uproar among residents.

One of the recent incidents took place on January 7, when a roof of a traditional communal oven collapsed.

The incident killed one person and injured four others in the Casablanca-Anfa district.

In another incident in the same week, social protection services retrieved the bodies of three victims, including a child, from under the ruins of a building that collapsed on January 8. 

A few days later, another building collapsed in Casablanca due to the heavy rainfall that recently caused devastating floods in the city.

Morocco, Luxembourg Sign Memorandum on Digital Transition

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Morocco and Luxembourg have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to cooperate on digital transition projects, particularly in the areas of electronic government (e-gov), digital inclusion, and infrastructure.

Morocco’s minister of industry, trade, and investment, Moulay Hafid Elalamy, and Luxembourg’s deputy minister of digitalization, Marc Hansen signed the agreement Monday during a videoconference.

Within the framework of this partnership, Luxembourg and Morocco intend to share their experience and expertise in the field of digitalization.

Hansen expressed a joint ambition to collaborate in the fields of data interoperability, training for digital inclusion, and developing digital infrastructures. The minister specified that the agreement “marks the beginning of a mutual collaboration that will contribute to a mutually beneficial digital transition for both countries.”

This partnership also paves the way for collaboration between the GovTech Lab of the Luxembourg Ministry of Digitalization and the Moroccan Digital Development Agency in the field of innovation and modernization of digital public services. 

Morocco’s Digital Development Agency implemented a new strategy to further develop the country’s e-governance as well as e-commerce. Digital Morocco 2020, “fosters the digital ambitions of the kingdom,” explained Moulay Hafid Elalamy.

Read Also: Minister: Digitalization Creates Investment, Job Opportunities in Morocco

This initiative aims to accelerate Morocco’s digital transition and to position the country as “the leading African digital hub.” The strategy’s objective is to put 50% of administrative procedures online while reducing the digital divide by 50%. According to Elalamy, The digitalization of administrative services will achieve better productivity and reduce the costs for administrative services. 

In the industry sector, Digital Morocco 2020 seeks to connect 20% of Moroccan small to medium enterprises (SME). By digitizing the economy sector, the ministry hopes to attract foreign investment and to encourage business owners by limiting administrative obstacles.

With the newly signed memorandum, Luxembourg and Morocco appear determined to work toward furthering their evolving economic cooperation. 

In 2020, Luxembourg’s government opened a Trade and Investment Office (LTIO) in Casablanca. 

The office, the very first in Africa, will help identify opportunities in Morocco and more widely in Africa for Luxembourg companies from different sectors. It will also support Moroccan investors and companies to access Luxembourg as a European gateway.

Morocco’s Agricultural Sector Shows Promising Signs After Recent Heavy Rainfall

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Morocco’s Agricultural Sector Shows Promising Signs After Recent Heavy Rainfall
Morocco’s Agricultural Sector Shows Promising Signs After Recent Heavy Rainfall

Aziz Akhannouch, Morocco’s Minister of Agriculture, said this week that the country’s 2020-2021 agricultural season is showing signs of a bountiful harvest year.

As of January 22, Moroccan farmers cultivated 5.35 million hectares (Ha) of fall crops, a noticeable increase from last year’s figures.  

The cultivated area, which includes 9% irrigated farmlands, marks an increase of 9% compared to last season, the minister noted.

Akhanouch told MPs in Rabat that mechanical farmland covered 94% of the cultivated area. A total of more than 1,193 million quintals of approved seeds were sold.

He said that the cultivated area reached about 4.88 million Ha, including 9% irrigated, which are devoted in particular to autumn cereals (4.2 million hectares).

The minister added that 51,800 Ha were sown during the period of January 15 to 21, 2021,  mostly consisting of cereals (89%).

As part of the autumn cereal multiplication program, an area of 51,082 Ha was cultivated. In an area estimated at 173,560 Ha, the main cultivated species were beans (56%), lentils (21%), and peas (20%). Autumn vegetables, meanwhile, occupy an area of 100,900 Ha.

For sugar crops, sugar beets are programmed for an area estimated at 53,600 Ha, compared to 56 Ha recorded last season. 86% of that area was cultivated while 100% monogerm planting was carried out.

Read Also: Agriculture: Moroccan Exports Spark Concerns Among Spanish Operators

For sugarcane, an area of 12,423 Ha is sown, with 2,500 Ha that was programmed for this season, with some 1,737 Ha planted in autumn (1,209 Ha in El Gharb and 528 Ha at Loukkos).

Akhannouch also announced that the country’s exports of vegetables and fruits totaled 474,000 tonnes this month, showing an increase of 9% compared to the same season last year.

The minister said that the reserves of dams for agricultural use have accumulated compared to last year, from 6.22 billion m3 last year to about 5.81 billion m3 this January.

The recent rainfall Morocco has witnessed also had a positive impact on the agriculture sector, improving farming conditions, the quality of the product and vegetation in pastoral areas, and the increased demand for seeds.

Morocco’s agricultural production suffered from drought and lack of rainfall in the 2019-2020 season, while the dams suffered from a chronic water deficit that impacted the country’s supply of drinking water and irrigation.

This year, however, the large quantity of rain witnessed in recent weeks has considerably improved the prospects of Morocco’s agricultural sector, leading both farmers and authorities to expect a distinctly bountiful harvest season.

Marrakech Court Sentences Singer Dounia Batma to 1 Year in Prison

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Marrakech Court Sentences Singer Dounia Batma to 1 Year in Prison
Marrakech Court Sentences Singer Dounia Batma to 1 Year in Prison

Rabat – The Marrakech Court of Appeal today sentenced Moroccan singer Dounia Batma to one year in prison for her involvement in the “Hamza mon bb case” blackmail case.

The court had previously sentenced the controversial singer to eight months in prison in July 2020. The singer, however, appealed the decision.

In its latest verdict, the Marrakech court  added four more months to the singer’s original sentence. 

The court also upheld sentences against Ibtissam Batma, Dounia Batma’s sister, and Sophia Chakri, an “influencer” who cooperated with the Batma sisters.

The court reduced the prison terms against Aicha Ayach, who had received a sentence of one year and a half in July for her involvement in the blackmail case.

Aicha Ayach’s sentence was reduced to six months.

In July, the court sentenced Ibtissam to one year in prison in July, while Aicha Ayach received a sentence of one year and a half.

Read Also: Hamza Mon BB: Court Exempts Dounia Batma From Attending Hearings

The First Instance Court in Marrakech had also sentenced Dounia Batma to eight months in prison for her involvement in the case.

“Hamza mon bb” has made international headlines since 2018. The singer and her sister Ibtissam faced several charges, including accessing personal data to disseminate people’s private conversations and pictures through online applications without the victim’s consent.

The charges include sharing people’s information with the intention to undermine privacy and reputation.

The notorious case references a social network account that was active on Instagram and Snapchat.

The accounts used to share indecent photos, videos, and other content that sought to undermine people’s privacy.

Read Also: ‘Hamza Mon Bb’ Blackmail Account Active Again, Promises More ‘Revelations’

Netanyahu Wants King Mohammed VI’s Visit Before Israeli Elections

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Netanyahu Wants King Mohammed VI’s Visit Before Israeli Elections
Netanyahu Wants King Mohammed VI’s Visit Before Israeli Elections

Rabat – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seeks to arrange for King Mohammed VI to Israel, a number of Israeli news outlets reported on Tuesday.

The Israeli leader wants Morocco’s King to come to Tel Aviv once the COVID-19-indueced lockdown is lifted, according to coverging reports.

The Jerusalem Post said that Netanyahu wishes for King Mohammed VI to visit Israel to secure another crucial political victory for the upcoming Israeli election.

The election is scheduled for March.

“By bringing over the King of Morocco, Netanyahu hopes to appeal to the large Jewish population in Israel that migrated from Morocco,” the Jerusalem Post said.

Yediot Aharonot, a Tel Aviv-based newspaper, indicated that Likud, Israel’s ruling party, was “planning on using the agreement with Morocco as a central aspect of the party’s election campaign.”

For many Israeli observers, a visit by King Mohammed VI would strongly influence the elections in favor of Likud and its candidate Netanyahu. 

Read Also: Biden Administration to Uphold Israel’s ‘Normalization Agreements’

But there is uncertainty as to whether the Moroccan King will agree to visiting Israel on Netanyahu’s preferred terms. King Mohamed VI “might refuse the offer,” Yediot Aharonot reported, quoting a senior Israeli official.

The official was quoted as saying: “I am aware that the Prime minister’s Office and the National Security Council want it to happen, but I’m not sure if it will be possible before the elections take place. But the king may surprise us all and come.”

Netanyahu extended his invitation to King Mohammed VI to visit Israel during a phone call in December. The conversation followed Morocco’s decision to establish ties with Israel.

Israeli observers are, however, questioning whether the King will accept the invitation without the re-launch of negotiations between Palestine and Israel.

Earlier this month, Israeli outlet Maariv quoted French diplomatic sources who said that King Mohammed VI is adamant about the resumption of the Palestinian-Israeli negotiations.

When the Israeli PM asked him to visit, the report explained, the Moroccan monarch demanded that Israel agree to re-launching dialogue with Palestine.

 Read Also: Israel Reopens Diplomatic Liaison Office in Morocco

Israel and Morocco officialized their newly established ties on December 22, with the signing of a Joint Declaration with the US.

Israel’s cabinet approved the motion to upgrade diplomatic ties with Morocco.

The North African country was the fourth Arab country to establish ties with Israel, following the UAE, Bahrain, and Sudan.

As part of their rapprochement deal, Israel and Morocco  have reached an agreement to promote trade and economic cooperation.

Israel reopened its diplomatic liaison office in Rabat after the arrival in Morocco of David Goffrin, the new Israeli envoy. 

The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs called the opening a “historical moment.”

“The establishment of full diplomatic relations with Morocco is a day of Eid (Feast) for the state of Israel,” the ministry said.

MINUSCA Pays Tribute to Moroccan Peacekeeper Killed on Duty

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MINUSCA Pays Tribute to Moroccan Peacekeeper Killed on Duty
Master Corporal Rachid Lamzaata is the 12th Moroccan soldier to die in the Central African Republic since the beginning of the country’s civil war in 2013.

The UN Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) has paid tribute to the Moroccan and Gabonese peacekeepers who lost their lives on January 18 during an ambush by an armed group.

MINUSCA organized a funeral ceremony in Bangassou, southeastern the Central African Republic, on Tuesday, January 26.

Master Corporal Rachid Lamzaata from Morocco and Staff Sergeant Major Franck Donald Mboundou-Moussounda from Gabon lost their lives after members from two rebel groups, the Anti-Balakas and the Union for Peace in the Central African Republic, attacked a MINUSCA convoy 17 kilometers from Bangassou.

“It is a moment of sadness, but it is fitting to honor and celebrate the sacrifice of Staff Sergeant Major Franck Donald Mboundou-Moussounda and Master Corporal Rachid Lamzaata in the service of humanity,” said Lieutenant General Daniel Sidiki Traore, the force commander of MINUSCA.

Read also: Attack in Central African Republic Kills Moroccan, Gabonese Peacekeepers

The January 18 incident brought the number of Moroccan peacekeepers killed in the Central African Republic to 12. In total, more than 130 MINUSCA peacekeepers have lost their lives to the civil war since the establishment of the UN mission in 2014.

Morocco was among the first countries to send peacekeepers to the Central African Republic after the outbreak of a civil war. The North African country is currently the sixth-largest troop contributor to MINUSCA, with over 770 Moroccan peacekeepers deployed.

Since the end of World War II, Morocco has sent over 60,000 troops on 147 UN peacekeeping missions across the world.

Over the years, at least 44 Moroccan peacekeepers have lost their lives on duty. The conflict in the Central African Republic has claimed more Moroccan peacekeeping lives than any other dispute.

The peacekeeping mission in Cote d’Ivoire (UNOCI), between 2004 and 2017, comes second, with 11 Moroccan fatalities, followed by the UN Operation in Somalia (UNOSOM), between 1992 and 1995, with 10 Moroccan troops killed.

Morocco Approves 21 New University Institutions To Be Opened By 2023

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Morocco Approves 21 New University Institutions To Be Opened By 2023
The parliamentary body had requested that Aouicha increase in particular institutions that require additional tests prior to admission, as well as solid high school grades.

Rabat – Morocco will establish 21 new universities with merit-based admissions in the coming two years as demand for higher education increases. Idris Aouicha, Delegate Minister in charge of Higher Education and Scientific Research, announced the new plan on Tuesday, January 26.

With demand for high-quality higher education increasing throughout Morocco, the government aims to create new university institutions aimed at the most talented young Moroccans. Delegate Minister Aouicha had been asked to increase the number of merit-based institutions by the Independence and Equivalence Team of Morocco’s upper house of parliament.

The parliamentary body had requested that Aouicha increase in particular institutions that require additional tests prior to admission, as well as solid high school grades. 

Morocco is aiming to rapidly boost its capacity to educate gifted students in these merit-based institutions. These “institutions with limited access” currently make up 81 out of a total 147 universities in Morocco and teach 659,128 students out of over one million students currently enrolled in higher education. 

With a young population, Morocco is seeing increased demand for quality higher education, with a focus on training future engineers, doctors and specialized professionals. Morocco is increasing the number of such universities to meet its educational targets. According to the government, the plan is  an important part of the Kingdom’s development priorities, notably its ambitions to boost youth empowerment and reform the education system.

Read Also: Morocco Signs Two Agreements to Promote Inclusive Education

Over the past four years, Morocco has opened roughly 40 new universities. In 2020-2021, the government established 11 new “limited access” universities in Agadir, Beni Mellal, Casablanca, Fakih Bensalah, Fez, Al Jadida and Kenitra.

While the new institutions are all public, Delegate Minister Aouicha continues to see private universities in Morocco as an essential partner to those run by the government. Aouicha stated that private universities increase the number of options available to Morocco’s students. 

Private education itself has also been strengthened by the new public institutions, according to Aouicha. The minister expressed confidence that a new class of universities and merit-based institutions will help alleviate the pressure on already existing universities and diversify the available options to Morocco’s talented youth.

Morocco’s Automotive Industry Leader in Intra-African Trade

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Morocco’s Automotive Industry Leader in Intra-African Trade
Morocco’s Automotive Industry Leader in Intra-African Trade

A new report by the World Economic Forum has put the spotlight on Morocco’s thriving automotive sector, showing that the North African country’s industrial sector is increasingly becoming a continental trailblazer in terms of intra-African exchanges.

The report, published on January 26, explores pathways to drive economic recovery in the African continent through the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).  It reviews intra-African trade and current African efforts to meet local and global demands by focusing on the automotive industry as a strategic sector.

Titled “Connecting Countries and Cities for Regional Value Chain Integration: Operationalizing the AfCFTA,” the document looks at the ways through which the AfCFTA agreement can bring a new window of opportunity for Africa to ramp up its manufacturing sector.

The African Union launched the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) on 1 January 2021, hoping for the agreement to accelerate intra-African trade and boost Africa’s trading position in the global market. 

The World Economic Forum reports that by reducing barriers to trade, the economic prospects of “a continent of over 1.3 billion people with a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of $2.5 trillion” will be boosted. 

If Africa were to increase its share of global trade from 2 to 3%, this one percentage point increase would generate approximately $70 billion of additional income per annum for the continent, adds the report.

In 2019, intra-African trade totaled $137.6 million, approximately 4.7% less than in 2018. Only 16% of total African exports and 12% of total African imports were to and from African countries in 2019. 

However, the new agreement is expected to increase intra-Africa trade from about 13% to 25% or more through better “harmonization and coordination of trade liberalization.”

Morocco’s automotive industry as a leading African supplier

Morocco featured among Africa’s top 10 supplying markets in recent years. In 2019, the value of Moroccan exports to other African countries amounted to $2.24 million. This number represents approximately 3% of the total shares of Africa’s aggregation. The North African country is the seventh-largest supplier of automobile vehicles, parts, and accessories.

In addition to being a primary regional supplier, “Morocco’s automotive experience presents valuable lessons” to the sectors in other African countries, according to the report. 

In fact, the report adds, Morocco’s automotive vehicle production revenue was $10.5 billion, the equivalent of 25% of Morocco’s total exports in 2019.

The World Economic Forum attributes this success to the offshore banks active in Morocco’s export free zones. The offshore banks offer customized financial packages for local and foreign investors in the automotive industry, supporting both onshore and offshore projects. The public-private investment of key infrastructure in the production of automobiles, as well as corporate tax exemptions, are all contributing factors. 

The overarching factor of success, according to the report, is Morocco’s industry leadership which works towards “the future of mobility. ” 

The country’s industrial sector is “anticipating the technologies of tomorrow” and working towards “the global transition of the industry to the Fourth Industrial Revolution,” concludes the report. 

Morocco, US Organize Meeting to Fight Nuclear Proliferation

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Morocco, US Organize Meeting to Fight Nuclear Proliferation
The non-proliferation event comes as an extension of the Strategic Dialogue to which Morocco and the US committed recently.

Agadir – The US State Department and Morocco’s Foreign Affairs Ministry are holding a  meeting on cooperation in the fight against nuclear proliferation and weapons of mass destruction.

The meeting, which opened today and is set to close on January 29, comes as an extension of the Strategic Dialogue the two countries held recently, covering various political, economic, and security issues.

Redouane Houssaini, the director Morocco’s foreign ministry’s United Nations and International Organizations department, and David Greene, Charge d’Affaires at the Embassy of the United States in Rabat, opened the meeting.

With round table discussions led by international experts, the event helped identify good practices in the fight against nuclear proliferation. Participants hope to channel the sharing of “good practices” and experiences in the implementation of international sanctions that fall under the purview of the UN Security Council.

The regional meeting was organized in response to growing cross-border tensions, often driven by terrorism and separatist movements.

The Stimson Center, a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank working towards international peace and security, and a well-known figure in the fight against nuclear proliferation, participated in organizing in the event. Also attending the event were delegations from Tunisia and Libya.

Read Also: Nuclear Safety: Morocco Poised to Lead African Nuclear Cooperation

The Moroccan delegation included the Ministry of the Interior, the National Defense Administration, the Royal Armed Forces, the Royal Gendarmerie, Bank Al-Maghrib, and the General Directorate of National Security (DGSN).

Houssaini said the meeting was yet another proof of the evolving friendship and cooperation between Morocco and the United States, noting the coordination between the two countries in different multilateral platforms, such as the United Nations.

For his part, Greene praised Moroccan efforts in the fight against nuclear proliferation. He also noted that Morocco has found the right balance between security and freedom of trade.

The US diplomat also reiterated the US’ commitment to strengthening regional cooperation to control nuclear proliferation and curb the circulation of weapons of mass destruction.

This is not the first time that Morocco has taken up the non-proliferation cause. 

At the 64th General Conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency in September 2020, Morocco’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Nasser Bourita declared the country’s commitment to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. 

Arguing that global crises call for increased multilateralism, the Moroccan minister advocated for “a spirit of solidarity” and more “effective cooperation and practical coordination at the international level.”

2021 CHAN: Morocco Qualifies for Quarter-Finals, Tops Group C

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As the few supporters present at the Stade de la Reunification were beginning to pack up, Raja Casablanca playmaker Abdelilah Hafidi, who played his first game in more than six weeks due to injury, scored the fifth goal for Morocco.
Morocco will face either Guinea, Zambia, or Tanzania in the quarter-final.

Morocco’s national football team of local-based players has qualified for the quarter-finals of the ongoing African Nations Championship (CHAN) in Cameroon.

The Moroccan team secured a spot among the eight finalists after beating Uganda 5-2 today, January 26, during the third round of the competition’s group stage.

Uganda opened the score at the 26th minute with a stunning shot from 22-year-old Ibrahim Orit. The goal seemed to put the Moroccan squad into disbelief for several minutes, before players began gradually regaining the composure they had at the start of the game.

The Moroccan team earned a penalty kick at a crucial time, right before the end of the first half. Wydad Casablanca striker Ayoub El Kaabi, the top scorer of the 2018 CHAN with nine goals, translated the foul into an equalizing goal for Morocco, allowing his teammates to regain some confidence.

The in-between-halves speech from coach Hussein Ammouta seemed to be effective, as Moroccan players entered the field in the second half more determined to fill Uganda’s net with goals.

Raja Casablanca winger Soufiane Rahimi scored the second goal for Morocco at the 51st minute. At the 71st minute, Moghreb Tetouan defender scored Morocco’s third goal.

Despite dominating their opponents with a comfortable margin of two goals, the Moroccan team kept their all-out offensive playing style until Rahimi scored his second goal of the game and the fourth for Morocco at the 80th minute.

Rahimi’s goal, however, seemed to make the Moroccan players too comfortable, leading them to surprisingly concede a second goal from Saidi Kyeyune at the 84th minute of the game.

As the few supporters present at the Stade de la Reunification were beginning to pack up, Raja Casablanca playmaker Abdelilah Hafidi, who was absent from football fields for nearly two months due to injury, scored the fifth goal for Morocco.

Read also: 2021 CHAN: Morocco Begins Title Defense With 1-0 Win Against Togo

Today’s win puts Morocco at the top of Group C, with seven points collected from a 1-0 win against Togo and a 0-0 draw versus Rwanda.

Rwanda comes second with five points, followed by Togo (three points) and Uganda (one point).

In the quarter-finals, Morocco will face either Guinea, Zambia, or Tanzania—to be determined tomorrow, January 27.

The Moroccan team will play the quarter-final on Sunday, January 31. If it further advances to the semi-finals, it will face the winner between the Democratic Republic of Congo and Cameroon—the competition’s host country.

As the CHAN titleholder, Morocco is among the tournament’s favorites. More still, the country’s displays in the group stage, especially in the third game, suggest it has the wherewithal to retain its champion title. 

Today’s qualification brings the Moroccan squad closer to its objective, but the team still needs to improve its performance if it were to conquer the much stronger opponents that it will face in the direct elimination stage of the competition.

In 2018, the Moroccan team had an impressive performance in the CHAN, ending  the tournament in style  with a thumping 4-0 win against Nigeria in the final.

This year, however, Morocco is far from its 2018 level. After the first two games, many supporters expressed doubts about Morocco’s offensive prowess. 

Some fans have taken to reminiscing about Morocco’s festival of goals when it won the tournament three years ago. Others hope, with today’s win being convincing enough to buttress their sentiment, that the Moroccan squad can still find its way back to their glorious form of 2018.

As debates rage on about the prospects of the Moroccan team, it remains to be seen whether the squad will prove its doubters wrong in the coming games.

Read also: 2021 CHAN: Morocco Fails to Secure Early Qualification for Quarter-Finals

European Bank Announces €10 Million Loan to Assist Small Businesses in Morocco

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European Bank Announces €10 Million Loan to Assist Small Businesses in Morocco

Rabat – The European Investment Bank (EIB) announced on Tuesday the signing of a financing contract worth MAD 108 million ( 10 million) to support income-generating activities in Morocco.

EIB said it signed the loan agreement with JAIDA, a Moroccan company that finances microfinance organizations.

The bank said the loan aims to streghten’s JAIDA’s capacity to finance small businesses in Morocco. Part of the goal is to support JAIDA’s  programs of financial inclusion and social development, EIBsaid.

“This funding will be used exclusively to finance microcredits of an amount less than 25,000 euros,” the bank noted.

The loan also seeks to help promote activities to maintain employment through micro and small enterprises with less than 10 employees in rural and urban areas. It will also benefit self-employed workers.

“The EIB pursues its objective of promoting sustainable and responsible financial services” for the benefit of income-generating activities” through the support program. The financial empowerment scheme is particularly aimed at rural populations, especially disadvantaged women and youth.

“With this financing, JAIDA’s loan portfolio should be maintained between MAD 800 to 900 million  (€74 to 84 million) per year,” EIB said.

Claudia Wiedey, the EU’s ambassador in Morocco,  expressed satisfaction with the agreement, highlighting the importance of supporting small businesses.

“In this period of pandemic, it is important to support as many people as possible in their financial empowerment.”

EIB’s Anna Barone described the loan agreement as an important operation that will help JAIDA achieve its goals.

Barone said: “We are happy to be able to support micro-entrepreneurs across the country. Funding and support for project leaders is an action priority for the European Investment Bank.”

JAIDA’s General Manager Meriam Mechahouri said the partnership with EIB will allow JAIDA to consolidate its role as a reliable financier for small businesses in Morocco.

The loan agreement is  under the Venture Capital Mechanism for Southern Neighboring Countries, an operation the EU and EIB created to support private sector development, inclusive growth, and job creation.

Morocco Confirms 15 COVID-19 Related Deaths in 24 Hours

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Morocco Confirms 15 COVID-19 Related Deaths in 24 Hours
Morocco Confirms 15 COVID-19 Related Deaths in 24 Hours

Rabat – Morocco’s Ministry of Health has confirmed 867 new cases of COVID-19 in the past 24 hours as of 6 p.m. January 26.

This means the country’s total number of COVID-19 cases has reached 467,493.

Morocco also confirmed 1,351 recoveries, adding to a total of 444,823 recoveries since the outbreak began in March 2020.

The death toll related to the coronavirus reached 8,187 after more 15 patients died in the past 24 hours.

Morocco’s health authorities said the country counts 14,483 active cases , including 766 patients in severe or critical condition. 

Casablanca-Settat remains the most affected region in the country, with 422 new COVID-19 cases and eight coronavirus-related deaths.

Tangier-Tetouan-Al Hoceima comes second, with 162 new cases, followed by Rabat-Sale-Kenitra (87  cases, two deaths).

The region of  Souss-Massa recorded 40 cases, followed by the Oriental (38 cases, one death), Marakech-Safi (36 cases, one death), Beni Mellal Khenifra (20 cases, two deaths), Laayoune Sakira El Hamra (17 cases), and Fez-Meknes (16 cases, one death).

The region of Dakhla-Oued Eddahab recorded 16 cases, followed by Daraa-Tafilalet (11 cases), and Guelmim-Oued Noun.

The national recovery rate reached  95,2%, while the rate of death stood at 1.8%

Morocco Hands Essential Data to US on American Soldier Facing Terrorism Charges

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Morocco Hands Essential Data to US on American Soldier Facing Terrorism Charges
Morocco Hands Essential Data to US on American Soldier Facing Terrorism Charges. Chief of DGST-DGSN Abdellatif Hammouchi with former US ambassador David Fischer

Rabat – Morocco’s General Directorate of Territorial Surveillance (DGST) provided the US with essential data on American soldier James Bridges, who was recently arrested for attempting to assist ISIS in attacking US troops.

On January 19, the US States Department of Justice announced the arrest of Bridges, emphasizing that the soldier provided “tactical guidance to attempt to help ISIS to attack American forces in the Middle East.”

 “As alleged, Cole Bridges betrayed the oath he swore to defend the United States by attempting to provide ISIS with tactical military advice to ambush and kill his fellow service members.  Our troops risk their lives for our country, but they should never face such peril at the hands of one of their own,” US Attorney Audrey Strauss said. 

Bridges is also believed to have provided training to ISIS fighters who were planning attacks, including advice about potential targets in New York City, such as the 9/11 Memorial.

Read also: US, Morocco Commit to ‘Crucial’ Counterterrorism, Intelligence Partnership

On Monday, News Talk Florida quoted a Moroccan source, who revealed that US and Moroccan officials discussed the case of Bridges before his arrest.

Morocco’s DGST brought the case to the attention of the US in September 2020, according to the news outlet. 

Moroccan state media confirmed the news on Tuesday, saying that DGST provided the FBI with crucial data regarding the arrested soldier.

Haboub Cherkaoui, the chief of Morocco’s Central Bureau of Judicial Investigation (BCIJ), said the American soldier attracted Moroccan intelligence’s attention for his online activities since last summer.

In an interview on January 24, the BCIJ chief said that Rabat’s security services usually provide crucial intelligence to their American counterparts.  

“Morocco provided the US with information regarding the Khalden training camp, one of Osama bin Laden’s main military training camps in Afghanistan,” Habboub said. “The information allowed the bombing of the camp.” 

Morocco’s counterterrorism leadership

In its report on Bridges’s case, News Talk Florida emphasized DGST’s  leading role in countering terrorism under the leadership of Abdellatif Hammouchi.  

The new US-Morocco cooperation against terrorism is another momentum, reflecting the importance of partnership between the two countries in the field of security.

The American outlet stressed the leadership of Hammouchi, also known as the “Super Cope”  and “the man who does not sleep” in his role as the head of DGST and the General Directorate of National Security (DGST-DGSN).

The Moroccan official frequently holds meetings with high-ranking US officers as part of the American-Moroccan security and counter-terrorism cooperation. 

One of the most recent meetings was in December 2020, when he met with several US officials, including David Fischer, the former US ambassador to Morocco.

Officials from the two countries frequently meet to discuss cooperation in the field of security, with the US repeatedly haling Morocco as a regional leader on counter-terrorism and security matters.

In its  annual  Country Report on Terrorism in June 2020, the US State Department commended Morocco’s efforts in counterterrorism and de-radicalization. According to the report, Morocco’s counterterrorism efforts are essential in mitigating terrorism risks in the MENA region.

Morocco Hosts Webinar On Interfaith Dialogue, Memory Transmission

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Morocco Hosts Webinar On Interfaith Dialogue, Memory Transmission
Morocco Hosts Webinar On Interfaith Dialogue, Memory Transmission

Morocco is hosting a webinar on interfaith dialogue and on the preservation of the religious and cultural legacies of the North African country. Held between January 25-28, the webinar is organized by the Center for Research and Training on Interfaith Issues and Peacebuilding, in partnership with the US Embassy in Morocco and Archives of Morocco. 

Several eminent personalities and public figures attended the event’s opening session. The participants praised Morocco’s well-documented culture of interreligious tolerance and the peaceful coexistence between Islam and Judaism.

During the opening session, André Azoulay,  Advisor to King Mohammed VI and a prominent figure of the Morocco’s Jewish community, described the North Africa country as a space of exceptional proximity between Jewish and Muslim communities.

“Morocco is experiencing an exceptional momentum” with regard to its efforts towards the preservation and celebration of the country’s rich Jewish heritage, Azoulay argued.

Countries that turn their backs on their history and do not know how to resist the tragic illusions of amnesia compromise and undermine their own destiny, he explained.

Serge Berdugo, the Secretary-General of the Council of the Jewish Community of Morocco, agreed. Judaism and Islam have managed to coexist in respect and tolerance in Morocco, he said, adding that the two religions have ended up “harmonizing without losing their authenticity.”

Meanwhile, the Secretary-General of Morocco’s Council of Ulemas, Ahmed Abbadi, noted that it is important to open the discussion on interfaith tolerance to all social categories across different generations. The preservation of Morocco’s diverse histories should be a collaborative societal and political project, said Abbadi.

For the Director-General of the Islamic World Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ICESCO), Salem Ben Mohamed El Malek Morocco is a “model in terms of preserving customs and traditions, especially those of the Jewish community.” 

El Malek stressed the centrality of memory preservation in any successful development model. 

The international webinar is themed “Preserving and transmitting memory to anchor Otherness,” and it will host a series of workshops, discussions, and film screenings to reflect on the safeguard and transmission of memory.

Survey: COVID-19 Sent Many Moroccan Companies Out Of Business

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Survey COVID-19 Sent Many Moroccan Companies Out Of Business
More than 16% of Moroccan companies have temporarily or permanently closed their doors by the end of 2020.

Agadir – COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on the majority of Moroccan companies, according to a recent survey by Morocco’s High Commission for Planning (HCP).

The survey, the third of a series of similar studies carried out in 2020 to measure the impact of the health crisis on Moroccan businesses, indicates that more than 16% of Moroccan companies temporarily or permanently closed their doors by the end of 2020.

The first survey, carried out in April 2020, measured the immediate repercussions of the pandemic on the financial situation of companies. The second survey was carried out in July 2020 and aimed to assess the level of resumption of activity that followed the easing of COVID-19 related safety measures.

With the third iteration of the survey, HCP sought to assess business activity between July and December 2020, and to compare it to the same time period from before the pandemic. According to HCP, this will allow companies to understand their current levels of performance in comparison to normal, pre-COVID-19 times.

The survey reveals that 83.7% of Moroccan companies remained active in the second half of 2020. It added, however, that 8.1% of the companies have since temporarily shut down, while 6% have had to temporarily close after the resumption of activity and 2.2% have declared shutting down permanently.

Read Also: HCP: Morocco to Record 4.6% GDP Growth in 2021

The most affected sectors were transport, catering, and real estate. The three sectors are still struggling to reach normal levels of activity, with companies that are temporarily shut down reaching 31%, 27% and 25% respectively.

HCP also looked at the effect that the pandemic had on private employment, with the survey showing that nearly 38% of companies have had to reduce the number of employees by the end of last year.

Looking at the most affected sectors in terms of employment lost, catering, accommodation and construction companies have experienced the highest shrinkage of workforce, with 64% and 56% respectively.

The study also noted that 2020 saw Moroccan companies struggle with their cash flow. 40% of Moroccan companies said they do not have a cash reserve, while 8% have a reserve sufficient for less than a month.

The survey was carried out with a sample of 3,600 companies, representing the sectors of manufacturing industry, construction, energy, mining, fishing, trade, and non-financial market services.

Morocco Reiterates ‘Unwavering Support’ for Palestine at African Union

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Morocco Reiterates ‘Unwavering Support’ for Palestine at African Union
Mohamed Arrouchi stressed that Morocco will continue to work towards just and lasting peace in the Middle East.

Agadir – Morocco has once again made clear its position on the Palestine-Israel conflict, with the country’s African Union representative reiterating Rabat’s “unwavering support” for Palestinians.

In the wake of newly established bilateral ties with Israel, the Moroccan government has been facing criticism for supposedly abandoning the Palestinian cause. In response, Rabat has repeatedly voiced its support for Palestine, most recently during the 41st Ordinary Session of the Permanent Representatives Committee (PRC) of the African Union (AU).

During this week’s 41st Ordinary Session of the Permanent Representatives Committee of the African Union, Mohamed Arrouchi, Morocco’s Permanent Representative to the African Union and United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, said that Morocco considers the Palestinian cause as a top priority and will not waver in the defense of the rights of the Palestinian people.

Stressing that Morocco has always stood alongside Palestine, Arouchi argued the North African country will continue to advocate for Palestinians’ rights. He also said that the country will continue to work towards achieving just and lasting peace in the Middle East.

Read Also: Morocco’s Ruling Party Condemns Israel’s Attacks in Palestine

The Moroccan diplomat also underscored the need to preserve the special status of Al-Quds (Jerusalem), advocating for the multi-religious character of a city considered as a holy site for all the three Abrahamic religions.

Arouchi’s comments add to the growing list of statements and moves that suggest that, despite its diplomatic rapprochement with Israel, Morocco has no intention of “abandoning” Palestinians. 

During a phone call with Palestine’s Mahmoud Abbas on December 10, 2020, King Mohammed VI assured him that “Morocco always places the Palestinian issue in the rank of the Moroccan Sahara issue, and that Morocco’s work to consolidate its Moroccanness will never be, neither today nor in the future, at the expense of the Palestinian people’s struggle for their legitimate rights.”

Most recently, in response to an invitation to visit Tel Aviv, the Moroccan King notified Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the visit could only happen upon resumption of dialogue between Israel and Palestine. According to the Israeli news outlet Maariv, the King was adamant about Morocco’s “consistent, constant and unchanged” support for the Palestinian cause.

Morocco Urges African Union to Create Expert Platform on Epidemics

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Morocco Urges African Union to Create Expert Platform on Epidemics
Morocco initially made the proposal in June 2020, when African countries began witnessing the harsh impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Morocco reiterated on Monday, January 25, its call for the creation of an African expert platform to boost the continent’s resilience to epidemics.

Morocco’s Permanent Representative at the African Union (AU) and the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), Mohamed Arrouchi, stressed the need for such a platform during the 41st session of the AU Representatives Committee in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Morocco initially proposed the expert platform in June 2020, arguing it would consolidate Africa’s response to future health challenges.

The platform would support competent authorities in African countries by providing them with advice on the fight against epidemics, Arrouchi said. It would also allow for continuous exchange of expertise, consolidating intra-African cooperation.

According to the Moroccan diplomat, the proposal would also lead African states and pan-African institutions to achieve autonomy in the field of medical products, equipment, and logistics. 

Read also: Morocco Calls for Expert Platform to Boost Africa’s Epidemic Resilience

Arrouchi emphasized the importance of building a common African vision that meets the aspirations of African citizens.

He recalled that Morocco sent medical aid to over a dozen of African states to help them in their fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

“All the products and equipment constituting the aid were manufactured in Morocco, on African soil, by Africans,” the diplomat said.

“This action constitutes a concrete example demonstrating that Africa can acquire its own expertise, in very specific areas, as soon as the opportunity arises,” he continued.

Arrouchi also urged African states to accelerate the creation of the African Medicines Agency (AMA), “which will provide the continent with greater autonomy in the provision of medicines for all African citizens.”

Morocco was among the first countries to ratify the Treaty for the Establishment of the African Medicines Agency, in December 2019.

The agency, which the AU created in February 2019, is designed to harmonize medical regulation between African countries. But it is yet to become fully operational.

Russia Consolidates Position as Morocco’s Main Coal Supplier

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Russia Consolidates Position as Morocco’s Main Coal Supplier
Since 2015, Russia has been exporting more coal to Morocco than the US.

Russia consolidated its position as Morocco’s main coal supplier during the first 11 months of 2020, business-specialized Argus Media reported on Monday, January 25.

Between January and November 2020, Morocco decreased its coal imports from all of its traditional suppliers, except for Russia, which saw its exports to Morocco increased.

Morocco imported a total of 9.2 million tonnes of coal in the first 11 months of 2020, approximately the same amount recorded in the previous year.

However, imports from Russia witnessed an increase from 57% of the total imports to 87%.

The increased market share of Russian coal pushed Morocco’s other coal suppliers, notably the US, into the red.

The US’ coal exports to Morocco decreased by more than two-thirds between November 2019 and November 2020, standing at only 816,000 tonnes. The decline cut the American market share from 31% to only 9%.

South African coal exports to Morocco also witnessed a sharp decline. Morocco imported only 61,000 tonnes of coal from South Africa — just over a tenth of the amount recorded in the first 11 months of 2019. This has pushed South Africa’s market share from 6% to only 1%.

Russia has been consolidating its position as Morocco’s major coal suppliers since 2015. Russian coal exports to the North African country gradually grew every year, overtaking the US as Morocco’s main supplier in the process.

Argus Media argues that the lower price of Russian coal compared to its American counterpart could be one of the reasons why it has gained popularity in Morocco.

Read also: Morocco Still Dependent on Coal for Energy Production

Israel Reopens Diplomatic Liaison Office in Morocco

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Israel Reopens Diplomatic Liaison Office in Morocco
Morocco is yet to make a similar move and reopen its liaison office in Tel Aviv.

Israel reopened today, January 26, its diplomatic liaison office in Rabat after the arrival of its head, David Goffrin, to Morocco.

The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs described the reopening as “a historical moment.”

“The establishment of full diplomatic relations with Morocco is a day of Eid (Feast) for the state of Israel,” the ministry wrote.

The office has been closed since Morocco cut its diplomatic ties with Israel in the early 2000s.

The reopening of the Israeli liaison office in Morocco comes after the North African country agreed to re-establish its diplomatic ties with the Jewish state.

Morocco officialized its decision on December 22, 2020, through a tripartite Joint Declaration with the US and Israel.

Under the declaration, Morocco and Israel pledged to reopen their respective liaison offices in Rabat and Tel Aviv “as soon as possible.” They also agreed to intensify cooperation on a wide range of issues.

One of the major points that the two countries agreed on was the launch of direct flights in view of promoting tourism and business opportunities.

Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs appointed David Goffrin to lead the Israeli diplomatic mission in Morocco earlier this month.

Prior to his appointment in Morocco, Goffrin served as the Israeli ambassador to Cairo, Egypt.

At the time of writing, only Israeli official sources have announced the reopening of the Israeli liaison office in Rabat.

The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs attached a photo of Goffrin with Israeli and Moroccan flags in the background, but it did not disclose whether Moroccan officials attended the reopening ceremony.

Read also: Israel Appoints ‘Temporary’ Head of Diplomatic Representation in Morocco

France Dismantles Network Hiring Moroccan Seasonal Workers Irregularly

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France Dismantles Network Hiring Moroccan Seasonal Workers Irregularly

Rabat – French police dismantled on January 19 a network that illegally hired Moroccan seasonal workers in Tarn-et-Garonne, in southwestern France. 

France 3  reported that the “large network” used to employ Moroccans, dispatching them at farms throughout France illegally.

The network included five French-Moroccan suspects, who will face charges for employing 250 people from Morocco.

The network generated a turnover of  €1.6 million during its two years of activity.

Police seized €23,000 in cash, while €30,000 were in bank accounts.

French authorities also seized vehicles.

The suspects were supplying farms with workforce in the agricultural sector, without legally declaring the activities.

The farmers work in fields to collect fruits. The suspects used to employ the farmers under different identities on several farms across France.

“They smuggled dozens of people into France and used others who were already there but in an irregular situation,” the news outlet said.

The network created several companies in different forms to attract attention.

The arrests followed several months of investigation that was opened in June. 

France and Morocco work in different fields, including agriculture.

Seasonal farmers frequently go to France under a work contract to participate in clementine harvest.

In October 2020, Didier Ledshi , the director of France’s Immigration and integration Office (OFII), said that voer 900 Moroccan agricultural workers were due to participate in clementine harvest in France.

Despite the COVID-19 crisis and the closure of borders, OFII said that it made negotiations with Moroccan authorities to allow Moroccan seasonal workers to participate in the harvest campaign.

Farmers who partake in OFII’s program are granted three or four-month contracts.

In addition to France, Spain also receives thousands of Moroccans seasonal workers.

Read Also: Clementine Harvest: France to Welcome 900 Moroccan Seasonal Workers

Morocco Launches Digital Platform To Strengthen Communication With Its Diaspora

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Morocco Launches Digital Platform To Strengthen Communication With Its Diaspora
Morocco Launches Digital Platform To Strengthen Communication With Its Diaspora

Nezha El Ouafi, the Deputy Minister in charge of Moroccans living abroad, launched on Monday “Bladifqalbi,” a digital platform to strengthen communication with Moroccans around the world.

The platform will be available in Arabic, French, English, and Spanish and will be equipped with a video library through which Moroccans living abroad can publish videos and share their ideas, projects, and concerns. The website will also highlight, on a weekly basis, the achievements of Moroccans abroad and celebrate their diverse skill-sets and expertise.

According to the minister, this platform aims to consolidate links between the Moroccan diaspora, especially the younger generations, and their country of origin. The idea is to provide the diaspora with a virtual environment that can help in introducing them to, or reinforcing their attachment to Moroccan culture, identity, and history. 

The initiative seeks to facilitate the communication between Moroccans living abroad and Morocco’s administration. The website will enable the ministry to receive, monitor, and process the complaints of members of the Moroccan diaspora. The portal will also ease access to certain services dedicated to the Moroccan diaspora.

Pointing out the importance of a platform like “Bladifqalbi” amid pandemic-induced social distancing and limited travel between countries, Minister El Ouafi said the ministry seeks to maintain and strengthen communication with the Moroccan community abroad. 

Read also: Remittances From Moroccan Diaspora Reached $7 Billion in November 2020

El Ouafi noted Moroccans living abroad increased their financial transfers to their country of origin in 2020. The 4% increase, she added, highlighted the diaspora’s commitment to national solidarity during this unprecedented crisis. 

The deputy minister highlighted Morocco’s intention to launch a set of innovative programs and initiatives aimed at encouraging Moroccans living abroad to fully participate in Morocco’s cultural, political, and social development. 

El Ouafi also vowed to further protect the rights and interests of the Moroccan diaspora and to adapt various services to the demographic changes of this community.

The launch of “Bladifqalbi” comes within the framework of the national program to mobilize the skills, experience, and expertise of the Moroccan diaspora.

The program calls on the emerging highly-skilled and highly-educated community of Moroccans living abroad to work towards the development of their country of origin.

 The new national strategy to attract the expertise of Moroccans abroad will be discussed during the government council on Thursday, January 28.  

Western Sahara: South Africa Renews Wishes to See Biden Reverse US Position

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Western Sahara: South Africa Renews Wishes to See Biden Reverse US Position
Western Sahara: South Africa Renews Wishes to See Biden Reverse US Position

Rabat – South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa expressed his country’s desperate wishes to see US President Joe Biden change the US position regarding Western Sahara.

During a recent speech before the ANC’s National Executive Committee (NEC), President Ramaphosa called on the US to “speedily reverse” its recognition of Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara.

The South African president also raised concerns about the “lack of progress in solving the issue of Western Sahara,” expressing his country’s well-documented, Morocco-bashing stance on the Sahara question. 

This is hardly the first time a high-ranking official from South Africa has lashed out at recent developments in the Sahara conflict to either challenge Morocco’s territorial integrity or try to shore up international support for the separatist Polisario Front.

Last week, South Africa’s Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Naledi Pandor, also urged President Joe Boden to reverse former President Donald Trump’s proclamation on Western Sahara.

Read also: Western Sahara: What Polisario Advocates Don’t Want You to Know

Trump’s decision to recognize Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara angered a shrinking list of countries that continue to support Polisario’s independence claims.

Algeria, Polisario’s most vocal supporter and biggest sponsor, also opposed Trump’s decision. In recent weeks, the Algerian regime has repeatedly attacked Morocco and its efforts to defend its territorial integrity.

Most recently, concerns mounted in Algeria and South Africa after Joe Biden announced his administration will uphold Israeli peace accords. 

Despite increasing signs that the Biden administration will not reverse the Trump-brokered “Abraham Accords,” oberserves and politicians from countries supporting Polisario continue to hope against hope, desperately clinging to their version of the future for Western Sahara. 

To the overwhelming majority of observers and MENA watchers, the Biden White House will most likely refrain from frustrating Morocco and Israel, two strong and strategic US allies. 

Meanwhile, to the utter dismay of Polisario and its supporters, the new US administration has already expressed satisfaction with Israel’s peace agreements with Morocco, the UAE, Bahrain, and Sudan.

According to a recent White House statement, Joe Biden is unwaveringly committed to supporting Israel’s recent peace accords.

Biden’s MENA strategy, the statement suggested, will essentially consist in building on the momentum initiated by former US President Donald Trump.

The statement also reassured concerned analysts in Morocco and across the world, who have been asking questions about whether the new US administration would repeal or uphold Trump’s achievements in the MENA region.

Read AlsoSouth Africa Desperate to See Biden Change US Position on Western Sahara

The majority of American politicians and diplomats also believe Biden will work to further US-Morocco relations. 

David Fischer, the former US ambassador to Morocco,  said recently that Biden will not harm recent developments in Western Sahara.

Fischer made the remarks in his last speech as the US envoy to Morocco. Speaking to reporters before his departure, he said he is “100 percent sure that the incoming Biden administration will nominate a highly qualified individual to fill this important post, someone who will build on all that we have done together, and that the United States and Morocco will grow and prosper together as we have for over two centuries.”

Morocco Opens Honorary Consulate in Kolkata, India

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Morocco Opens Honorary Consulate in Kolkata, India
The news comes at a time when economic and diplomatic ties between Morocco and India are at a historic high.

Agadir – Mohamed Maliki, the Moroccan ambassador to India, inaugurated the Honorary Consulate of Morocco in Kolkata, the capital city of West Bengal, January 23, 2021. It is the second Honorary Consulate opened in India.

During the inauguration ceremony, Rashmi Chowdhary, an Indian businesswoman, was appointed as Morocco’s first Honorary Consul to the State of West Bengal.

Ambassador Maleki gave a speech emphasizing the importance of opening a Moroccan honorary consulate in India to help consolidate diplomatic and economic ties between the two countries. He noted both countries’ “special interest” in furthering bilateral cooperation in investment, trade, tourism, and “people-to-people exchanges,” according to a press release from the Moroccan embassy.

The Moroccan diplomat pointed to the excellent relationship between Morocco and India, noting the “historic” visit of King Mohammed VI to India in 2015, which significantly improved the development of bilateral relations. Furthermore, he stressed the fact that the business communities of the two countries should benefit from the “momentum” imparted by the King’s visit.

Read Also: Morocco, India Aim to Build on ‘Great Impetus’ in Bilateral Cooperation

Several prominent Indian dignitaries, including politicians, business people, as well as culture and media figures participated in the ceremony.

The news comes at a time when economic and diplomatic ties between the two countries are at a historic high, with various government bodies and private enterprises signing memoranda of understanding and a wide range of cooperation deals. 
Just in December of 2020, Morocco’s BMCE Bank of Africa and India Exim Bank signed a Memorandum of Understanding to improve bilateral trade and investment.

Ambassador Maliki, meanwhile, has long underlined the need to take advantage of the “enormous” potential for trade that exists between the two countries.

2021 Green Future Index: Morocco Best Country in MENA, 2nd in Africa

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2021 Green Future Index Morocco Best Country in MENA, 2nd in Africa
The index measures countries’ commitment to achieve a low-carbon economy.

Morocco has ranked first in the Middle East and North Africa region and second in Africa in the 2021 Green Future Index, which measures countries’ progress and commitment towards a low-carbon economy.

A team from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) compiled the annual index through secondary research and analysis, as well as interviews with experts on climate change, green energy, and environmental technologies.

This year’s list included 76 countries and featured Morocco in the 26th rank globally, the first in MENA, and the second in Africa — behind Kenya (23rd).

Morocco’s global rank puts the country in “the greening middle” category, which includes “the 20 countries that are making progress or commitment toward building a green future.”

“The greening middle” is the second-best category, ranking behind “the green leaders” and ahead of “climate laggards” and “climate abstainers.”

The 2021 Green Future Index considers Morocco as one of the countries “with ambitious climate policies albeit at a more nascent stage.” It compared Morocco’s efforts with those of countries such as South Korea (31st globally) and Israel (38th).

The index, published on MIT Technology Review Insights on Monday, January 25, presented Morocco as a role model in renewable energies.

Read also: King Mohammed VI Calls for Timely Transition to Renewable Energy

“Over a decade ago, the King of Morocco began a national debate about the future of energy, resulting in a fundamental policy redesign and a goal that renewables would produce 42% of the country’s power by 2020—a target that has now been raised to 52% by 2030,” the authors wrote.

Through an interview with Said Mouline, the CEO of the Moroccan Agency for Energy Efficiency (AMEE), the researchers behind the index illustrated Morocco’s progress in renewable energies over the past decade.

“Fossil fuel subsidies have been eliminated and replaced with energy transition programs. For example, to replace gas-fueled farm irrigation with solar-powered pumps, nearly 40,000 pumps have been installed to date,” the text said.

The document also mentioned Morocco’s leading role in the continent, notably through the training of African experts in renewable energies and sustainable agriculture.

“AMEE created a capacity-building center in Marrakech to train Africans from other countries in areas like renewable electrification and sustainable pumping for agriculture,” the index said, quoting Mouline.

Read also: Morocco’s MASEN, IDB to Develop Renewable Energy Projects in Africa

Besides the global ranking, the 2021 Green Future Index featured several specialized rankings, based on more specific criteria.

Morocco appeared in the fifth rank globally in the “clean innovation pillar.” The specialized ranking takes into consideration countries’ efforts to promote the development of clean technologies. Only Singapore, Finland, Chile, and Luxembourg earned higher scores than Morocco in this subranking.

Globally, the 2021 Green Future Index ranked Iceland (1st), Denmark (2nd), Norway (3rd), France (4th), and Ireland (5th) as the best countries worldwide in terms of decarbonization.

The bottom of the ranking, meanwhile, features Algeria (72nd), Russia (73rd), Iran (74th), Paraguay (75th), and Qatar (76th).

OECD: Morocco is Not One of the Big Radiators of Carbon

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OECD: Morocco is Not One of the Big Radiators of Carbon
OECD: Morocco is Not One of the Big Radiators of Carbon

Despite its extensive use of coal for electricity generation, Morocco is not one of the world’s biggest radiators of carbon, a new report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has shown. 

The report, titled “Taxing Energy Consumption Development: Opportunities for reforming energy taxation and subsidies in certain emerging and developing economies,” revealed results of efficient energy use from 15 developing and emerging market economies, including Morocco. 

According to OECD, the results aim to inform policymakers about Taxing Energy Use for Sustainable Development (TEU-SD). The idea is to help governments translate high-level policy ambitions, such as those under the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), into concrete action at the national level.

OECD’s report showed that between 2007 and 2017, Morocco’s GDP grew by an average of 3.9% per year in total, and 2.5% per capita, while energy-related CO2 emissions increased by 2.4% per year in total, and 1.0% per capita.

Morocco’s use of fossil fuels increased from 30.7% of CO2 emissions from energy use in 2007 to 33.3% in 2017.

Read also: UN: Morocco Urges Funding for Sustainable Development in Africa

The country’s non-combustible energy sources, such as wind and solar, accounted for 4.9% of primary energy use in 2017, up from 2.7% in 2007.

Due to Morocco being a net energy importer, its electrification rate is complete and 95.0% of Moroccans have access to clean cooking.

In addition to Morocco, the report examines the taxation of energy in Cote D’Ivoire, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Uganda, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Jamaica, and Uruguay.

OECD revealed that five of the 15 countries do not use any coal. Meanwhile, the use of wind and solar energy is growing fast in 13 of the 15 countries that have experienced a carbon tax reform that would be relatively straightforward to implement. 

The report also shows that developing countries could raise badly needed government revenues, while at the same time reducing CO2 emissions and air pollution by making better use of energy taxes or reducing fossil fuel subsidies.

In late 2020, Morocco’s Minister of Energy Aziz Rabbah announced the country’s plan for the development of renewable energies. He said Morocco envisions reducing its energy consumption by 20% by 2030 and exceeding 52% of its installed electrical power from renewable resources.

Morocco’s energy transition, which began in 2009, involves regional integration with an objective to optimize the Moroccan electricity mix around reliable and competitive technological choices through different means in terms of renewable energies.