Interview: Jean Christophe Quemard

How has the expansion of the automobile industry impacted local content and exports?

JEAN CHRISTOPHE QUEMARD: Following the arrival of major automobile actors, Morocco has developed six additional ecosystems: wiring, metal stamping, battery, powertrain, vehicle interior and seats. Automobile projects are also creating a new industrial pole of excellence in the Gharb region, which should act as a vector for territorial development and sustainable regional growth. Local integration rates are already at 60% and are expected to reach 80%. Export numbers are showing tremendous promise, and purchase volumes of vehicles made in Morocco are predicted to exceed 1bn by 2020. The automotive sector in Morocco currently represents around 16% of GDP, and that number is predicted to increase to 20% over the next years.

Despite these encouraging developments, there are still improvements that we hope to make. Discussions continue with the authorities regarding the need for Moroccan investors to become active in the sector. There is a shortage of involvement from domestic actors, and we hope to develop a network of medium-sized Moroccan automotive businesses. This will help the entire sector reach its integration goals. It will also serve to increase sourcing from Moroccan suppliers to European factories, and bolster the development of labour associated with the processing of raw materials into plastics, steel and aluminium.

What are some of the key advantages offered by Morocco’s automobile industry?

QUEMARD: From a purely strategic perspective, the country offers several key advantages. The cost base here provides one of the most favourable landed cost formulas for the European market. Because of its competitive advantage in terms of labour costs and proximity, which makes it a natural distribution basin, Morocco is particularly well situated to supply Southern Europe. Policies promoting the development of the automotive industry have been in place for many years, making Morocco one of Africa’s most business-friendly environments for automobile manufacturers. Furthermore, the economy continues to grow steadily, inflation is under control, balanced regulatory measures are in place, fiscal dispositions are encouraging and the exchange rate is stable. Morocco also has a proactive policy of developing favourable export Customs agreements with the EU, other countries in the Mediterranean basin, North America and Africa. As a result, the country has already signed deals with numerous foreign actors, consolidating its position as an international hub for the sector and underlining the attractiveness of the kingdom.

How can other African countries draw on Morocco’s experience in the automobile sector?

QUEMARD: We are currently seeing the beginnings of research and development for the automobile sector in Africa. Centres have already opened and started partnerships with Moroccan-based schools to study sustainable mobility systems for Africa.

The primary axes of research will continue to be electric mobility, renewable energies and futurebased logistics. The government is also working to create a test centre for vehicles that is set to enable the country to cover the entire automotive value chain. This centre will be operated by international experts in the field and open to a variety of other automobile manufacturers.

While long-term projects include targets for low-emission electric vehicles of 20% by 2025 and 35% by 2030, there should also be a focus on transportation in the shorter term. The first step for transport policy should be centred on collective mobility, serving as an example for the continent. Eventually electric vehicles will become a reality in developing countries, but at the moment it does not make sense to spend large sums of money on electric vehicle infrastructure.