Interview: Moulay Hafid Elalamy

How are perceptions of Morocco as a destination for foreign direct investment (FDI) changing?

MOULAY HAFID ELALAMY: Morocco has forged an international reputation as a reliable and credible partner. The interest shown by world leaders and the implementation of large-scale projects are strong signals of its position in global industry. In certain sectors, Morocco has become very appealing to FDI. The kingdom has a number of valuable assets that set it apart, including security and stability; developed infrastructure; workforce quality; constant improvements to its business environment; a vast network of free trade agreements; and geographical proximity of European and African markets.

In 2018 FDI flows amounted to Dh33.5bn (€3bn), up 28.6% from 2017. Morocco is becoming ranks first among FDI destinations in Africa, according to the UN Conference on Trade and Development. This momentum is furthered by the investment reforms launched in 2016, and a thorough overhaul of the investment charter is under way. Moreover, the Moroccan Agency for Investment Development and Export was created to support investors at all levels, and it has so far proved an effective tool in promoting Morocco’s appeal.

What are the results to date of the Industrial Acceleration Plan (Plan d’Accélération Industrielle, PAI)?

ELALAMY: Development through industrialisation is based on the royal vision rolled out in the last two decades. The PAI seeks to implement our industrial ambitions and propel its progress. The ecosystem approach has strengthened our achievements and accelerated sector momentum. It has been particularly successful in diversifying jobs, expanding the production base, enriching value chains, increasing job opportunities for youth and boosting local and foreign investment.

The automotive industry has experienced promising growth, positioning the segment as a key global platform. It is Morocco’s top exporter and employer, and it attracts global actors and a number of original equipment manufacturers. Another triumph is the aerospace industry, which has recorded export growth of 13.8%, the highest rate in the manufacturing industry. Aerospace is also making a significant upmarket move, and the kingdom is progressively becoming known in the sector. Meanwhile, historical sectors have not lagged behind, as textiles and agribusiness have renewed their dynamism, shown vigorous export trends, and increased their competitiveness. The dynamism of the overall production web has boosted employment, creating more than 288,000 jobs from 2014 to 2017, and we expect that to continue. Importantly, we are working to ensure that jobs are distributed as equitably as possible.

What is the industrial sector’s mid-term outlook?

ELALAMY: A regional rollout of the PAI is under way and new economic poles are being created throughout the country, with the goals of placing productive activities in various regions and bringing employment closer to all citizens. Another ongoing transformation is the arrival of domestic investors in advanced sectors such as aeronautics, automotive, engineering and advanced logistics. All these achievements are largely accomplished through the availability of a skilled workforce, and we attach the greatest importance to this.

Each performance contract with professional federations has a specific training plan and a roadmap of labour needs by year, region and profile. The multiplication of industrial sites and the need for human resources calls for such a plan. The long-term vision is to position industry in leading sectors, integrate it into global value chains, and take advantage of the components of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, namely artificial intelligence, 3D printing and smart objects. This new paradigm will rely on strong human capital and a coordinated national policy to promote innovation and market-oriented research and development. It will have to integrate the sector’s strongest trends and position Moroccan industry within global chains of production.