Hafez Ghanem, Vice-President for MENA, World Bank: Interview

Hafez Ghanem, Vice-President for MENA, World Bank

Interview: Hafez Ghanem

What steps can Morocco take that will enable it to move towards greater economic and social inclusion for its citizens?

HAFEZ GHANEM: Morocco has come a long way over the past 15 years, almost doubling the average income of its population, which is around 34m. But although it is taking the long view in its approach to development, there are still economic distortions that are hindering growth.

Increasing the country’s development momentum takes inclusive institutions, resulting in a more inclusive economy that provides equal opportunities, a level playing field and, eventually, creates jobs. The country needs to invest more in human capital as well as in institutional and social capital, and I would like to particularly emphasise here the role of education and early childhood development. These principles are at the heart of the social contract and are deeply enshrined in Morocco’s 2011 constitution. We at the World Bank support a series of programmes that address governance, transparency and the simplification of procedures for doing business in Morocco. We are doing this to provide an enabling environment that can drive competitiveness and help the country integrate itself into the global economy.

I would like to add that the greatest economic policy challenges do not reside as much in the content of policies as in their effective implementation. In other words, the key challenge is not what to do but how to do it – how to move towards a situation where comprehensive and strategic policy reforms are anchored and accepted by a majority of the country’s players.

In summary, the country is on the right track and has been able to identify key policy areas that it can leverage to ensure long-term development. The challenge now is to implement them and adopt a more integrated approach to development.

What more can be done to facilitate the creation of more employment opportunities for women and young people?

GHANEM: I had the chance to discuss this with a group of disadvantaged youth – boys and girls – in Sidi Moumen, Casablanca, during my last visit, and their first and foremost demand was jobs. With less than half of people aged 25-35 years having a job, and three out of four women outside the labour force, Morocco needs to generate more jobs to cope with the number of new entrants coming onto the job market every year. When it comes to women’s participation in the labour market, social and cultural norms, legal and regulatory frameworks, and economic factors are all responsible for gender disparity. To improve the participation of Moroccan women in the labour force, there is need for an environment that favours women’s mobility and security, and gives them positive incentives to work. This is also related to the availability of basic services, such as transport, housing and child care.

Financial and non-financial services, such as coaching and training, can be strong drivers of women’s entrepreneurship and empowerment. They should be considered in the development of pro-women labour programmes.

Gender inclusion and youth employment are key areas of engagement in our support to the government of Morocco. However, prospects for growth and job creation rely on the emergence of a more dynamic private sector.

Morocco’s current industrial strategy, with its value-chain or cluster-based approach, can build coalitions for an effective implementation and scale up at a territorial level. The strategy can be very complementary to the macroeconomic approach as it can help deliver a shorter-term impact on growth and the creation of jobs.


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The Report: Morocco 2016

Economy chapter from The Report: Morocco 2016

Cover of The Report: Morocco 2016

The Report

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