Interview: Akinwumi Adesina
How is the AfDB engaged in supporting economic development in Morocco?
AKINWUMI ADESINA: Since 1970 the AfDB has invested over $10bn in nearly 170 operations throughout Morocco’s key economic sectors. We believe in an integrated and holistic approach to development. Beyond financial commitments, support is also channelled into human development with a focus on education and social safety nets, especially the widening of medical insurance coverage, which has benefitted more than 12m Moroccans. Industry is another area of intervention, as Morocco strives to increase the sector’s share of GDP from 14% to 23% by 2020, as well as generate 500,000 new jobs. This effort will focus on strengthening Morocco’s integration in the African and global value chains. Projects targeting the modernisation of roads, ports, railways and airports – including the Marrakech Menara Airport, the capacity of which has gone from 3m to 9m passengers per year – have also received significant support, as have large, innovative infrastructure projects, such as the Noor solar energy complex, which is expected to increase the capacity of solar energy by 510 MW, enabling Morocco to reach its target of 52% renewable energy production by 2040.
To what extent is Morocco engaged in the integration process across Africa?
ADESINA: Morocco has always put Africa at the centre of its strategic priorities. King Mohammed VI has been giving a strong impetus to South-South cooperation through his multiple visits to the sub-region. Nearly 1000 agreements have been concluded in different sectors since 2000. The AfDB welcomes this African anchor, which aligns with our core priorities, particularly in terms of regional integration. I am convinced that, together, we will reach new and greater levels of development. Morocco is an inspiring country, which is proving that with vision, strong will and adequate resources, economic emergence can become a reality.
What are the principal goals of the soon-to-belaunched Desert to Power initiative?
ADESINA: The Desert to Power initiative is expected to be rolled out soon by the AfDB and the Moroccan Agency for Sustainable Energy (Agence marocaine pour l’énergie durable, MASEN). Morocco is an example of renewable energy in action. The Noor Ouarzazate complex alone is testament to Moroccan know-how. It is proof that Africa can accomplish great projects at an international level. The Desert to Power initiative targets the development of a 10,000-MW solar power zone across the Sahel region of Africa. It will be the largest solar zone in the world, and is expected to provide electricity to 250m people, 90m of those through off-grid solar systems. The AfDB has signed a memorandum of understanding with MASEN to co-develop this initiative, combining MASEN’s expertise in the development of renewable energy projects with our operational experience in this sector, particularly in the areas of knowledge sharing, capacity building, experience, technical assistance and project development. We are convinced that this will accelerate the implementation of the New Deal on Energy for Africa.
How can other African states capitalise on the experience Morocco has gained?
ADESINA: Thanks to its experience in agriculture, Morocco is able to provide concrete solutions to African challenges. From this point of view, the Green Morocco Plan is a model for food security that could be exported to countries in sub-Saharan Africa.
Based on a partnership approach, this model makes it possible to transform the agricultural sector into a stable source of growth, competitiveness and largescale economic development. Duplicating this approach will have the effect of enabling these countries to sustainably increase their agricultural productivity and strengthen their resilience to threats and crises, as well as improve the management of their natural resources.
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