Interview: Mohamed Benchaâboun

Which sectors present opportunities for investors?

MOHAMED BENCHAÂBOUN: Major reforms have been undertaken in the past two decades in combination with infrastructure projects. Integrated industrial platforms, business environment reforms and new training programmes have increased Morocco’s standing as an attractive investment destination and export platform on a global scale. This is evidenced by the establishment of a number of international groups and investors, and by Morocco’s improved ranking on the World Bank’s ease of doing business index, from 121st in 2009 to 53rd in 2020 out of 190 countries.

Today the country offers a range of new business opportunities in dynamic activities, including technology-intensive industrial sectors like the automotive industry, which has developed rapidly in recent years, offering investment opportunities across the value chain. Similarly, aeronautics have a development potential that is fuelled by attractive ecosystems.

Moreover, there are sectors in which Morocco has undeniable comparative advantages, such as food and beverages or textile, which offer many investment opportunities to develop and promote high value-added product-transformation activities.

Opportunities related to sustainability also cover a number of investment fields, such as the blue economy, which includes aquaculture, ecotourism and marine bioproducts. The energy transition offers an estimated investment potential of more than Dh300bn ($31.2bn) for the development of renewable energies and more than Dh250bn ($26bn) in energy efficiency for the building, industry and transport sectors.

How is Morocco pursuing its ecological transition?

BENCHAÂBOUN: The ecological transition is an essential pillar for the renewal of our development model. With this in mind, several strategic decisions and structuring levers have been deployed to create the conditions necessary for such a transition to succeed. Sectoral objectives have been put forward, including the objective to reach 52% renewable power in the electricity mix by 2030. We also aim to promote greater energy efficiency by capturing 15% energy efficiency gains by 2030. In addition, our Green Morocco Plan supports the resiliency of certain sectors by putting in place water-saving and solar-pumping technology, and through the establishment of support programmes for both big and small farmers, for instance. Lastly, economic reforms will be implemented with the total elimination of fuel subsidies, while studying the best possible ways to rationalise energy consumption.

What guarantees will the new Finance Law provide small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)?

BENCHAÂBOUN: SME development has become a national priority because of their crucial role in creating jobs and national wealth. The 2020 Finance Law provided for the creation of a fund, endowed with Dh6bn ($625.1m) over three years, for operations to support young graduates, facilitate their access to bank loans to finance projects, and support SME exporting companies, particularly for trade within Africa. In addition, and as part of plans to strengthen SMEs’ access to financing mechanisms, the government has continued to overhaul the national guarantee system by simplifying and strengthening its offer. It has also put in place the National Financial Inclusion Strategy to bring together and focus the inclusionary efforts of key public and private sector stakeholders around very small enterprises in particular.

Furthermore, the Small Business Act is in preparation, which will bring together all existing support mechanisms dedicated to SMEs. By restructuring the base of the system, its main objectives are to optimise the scope of certain instruments, while simplifying access conditions, ensuring better overall alignment and seeking wider diffusion among target companies.