Khaldoun Bouacida, Managing Director and Country Cluster Head Northwest Africa, BASF

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On attracting investment and developing local industries

In what ways has the hygiene and personal care segment in Morocco been developing?

BOUACIDA: Demographics undoubtedly play an enormous role in the Maghreb region, and have certainly been the main driver of investment in the hygiene and personal care segment in recent times. Furthermore, in the last few years consumer behaviour has changed significantly, with higher wages and greater wealth distribution leading to increased purchasing power. Morocco’s fair-trade argan oil business model in particular has been able to take advantage of these more favourable circumstances. The production of argan oil adds great value to the local economy, as it is produced sustainably in rural co-operatives. 

BASF has been one of the main companies implementing European standards in Morocco. As a result of more receptive markets and higher standards being offered to consumers, the majority of personal care products – including creams, dental care products and diapers – are now produced in Morocco, Algeria or Tunisia, instead of being imported from further afield. 

Looking ahead, it appears that the hygiene and personal care segment will find a sustainable market in Morocco, and given the country’s young population, establishing and growing the “Made in Morocco” label will be a valuable investment for the sector for many years to come.  

What is the current level of demand for construction materials and thermal insulation in particular?

BOUACIDA: Demand for construction materials is increasing, but unfortunately the quality of local products is still lacking in the private sector. For the materials needed in infrastructure and governmental tenders, for example, no compromises can be made on quality. 

Regarding thermal insulation, there is still some way to go. This is a topic that is always under discussion when the price of oil is high, but at current prices, heating and cooling efficiency is not being given the highest priority. However, thermal insulation is not just destined for housing and shopping centres, it could also be used in industrial facilities, companies, warehouses, farms and livestock holdings. Thermal insulation has the potential to greatly increase productivity. Even though we could further expand our use of thermal insulation, the new thermal regulations have made good headway, and there is a huge difference in its use compared to 2012. 

How do you assess Morocco’s potential as a hub for chemical products? 

BOUACIDA: Morocco has chosen an export-driven economic model, meaning that if Moroccan companies want to be successful in Europe, they will have to strictly adhere to European regulations. This model has been effective in attracting European players to invest here. Compared to the other 18 countries that are within BASF’s cluster, Morocco and Tunisia are clearly at the forefront, though Côte d'Ivoire is also catching up in terms of adopting new regulations, boosting exports and attracting investors. 

One of the main differences between Morocco and other countries in Africa and the Middle East is the petrochemicals value chain. Although we are yet to have a petrochemicals value chain in Morocco, we do have growing value chains in mining, agro-food processing and manufacturing. For instance, the OCP Group has been investing heavily in downstream activities, which is already very promising.

In addition, there are European consumer goods trends that are likely to have a positive impact on Morocco’s chemical products industry, especially in self-medication products and para-pharmaceuticals. Such products – including food supplements like calcium and omega-3 or anti-ageing creams – have already seen double-digit growth in Europe, and Morocco is likely to follow suit. Morocco’s promising demographic growth provides multinational companies with the unique opportunity to provide a range of new chemical products and solutions, whether these relate to construction, personal care or pharmaceuticals.
 

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