Interview: Mohamed Benchaâboun
What has been done to promote Morocco’s economic growth, particularly in the private sector?
MOHAMED BENCHAÂBOUN: Over the last decade Morocco has been working to improve its business climate and there have been a number of improvements. From 2009 to 2018 Morocco rose from 130th to 60th in the World Bank’s ease of doing business index. The establishment and ongoing efforts of the National Committee for the Business Environment (Comité National de l’ Environnement des Affaires, CNEA) is regarded as one of the main factors leading development in the country. The CNEA, in partnership with ministerial departments and public and private organisations, is working on several strategic projects aimed at reinforcing good governance, increasing transparency, modernising the legal business framework, facilitating access to financing, improving access to land and urban planning, and simplifying and digitising administrative procedures.
At the same time, Morocco has consolidated the status of several good governance bodies, including the Competition Council and the Central Authority for the Prevention of Corruption. Additionally, a draft law amending the organisation and powers of the regional investment centres is currently being discussed in Parliament. In short, we are making efforts to strengthen the role of the private sector and put in place a legal framework for public-private partnerships in line with best practices. We are also taking the necessary steps to make it more operational, especially in strategic sectors such as infrastructure.
What sectors are currently benefitting from the most focus and government input?
BENCHAÂBOUN: There has been a focus, among other things, on positioning Moroccan products at the heart of the global value chain. Hence our industrialisation strategy, and the creation of infrastructure that meets international norms. Many successful implementations have delivered an industrial context that is more visible, resilient and, above all, has better prospects. We are now working on strengthening the local integration of the industrial sector by bolstering relations between large industrial groups and small and medium-sized enterprises. To this end, the government has devoted substantial funds to road, port, airport and rail infrastructure, while implementing the National Strategy for the Development of Logistical Competitiveness.
We have also focused on resolving our growing electricity needs and reducing our foreign energy dependence through renewable energy. Our energy strategy will help increase renewables’ total share of national electricity production to 52% by 2030.
How can systemic reforms help to further socio-economic development?
BENCHAÂBOUN: Generally speaking, our socio-economic model, due to its multidimensional nature, has enabled our country to achieve undeniable political, institutional, economic and social gains. Programmes aimed at reducing social and spatial inequalities have enabled us to substantially improve almost all human development indicators in terms of reducing poverty rates, social protection, access to care and schooling. From an economic perspective, major reforms aimed at stabilising the macroeconomic framework, structuring projects and implementing sector strategies have proven fruitful. They have resulted in the relatively rapid integration of our economy into global value chains and have stimulated economic growth rates well above the regional average. Nevertheless, the progress we have made so far, however encouraging, does not represent the maximum fulfilment of our potential. There is still work to be done to boost inclusiveness, and this has hindered the consolidation of Morocco’s position as an emerging country. There is an almost unanimous agreement that the economic model currently in place has reached its limits, and it is now time to evolve in order to meet new economic and social challenges.
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