With the kingdom of Morocco’s strong macro-economic developments, massive investments in the transport and logistics sector, with a special focus on the aerospace industry, and improvements in the regulatory framework of the country, it is emerging as a continental transport and logistics hub, Surya Kannoth reports.

Morocco’s economy has been growing at an average of four percent annually over the last 10 years. The kingdom has been creating a very stable investment climate which have attracted major foreign investments in sea ports, infrastructure (roads, rail), manufacturing industry (automotive, aeronautics) and renewable energy (wind, solar).

In fact, over the last fifteen years, the Moroccan government has developed more high-end productive investment projects resulting in the creation of free zones for companies active in the automotive and aeronautics industry.

With the various economic reforms in recent years, Morocco’s business environment has improved considerably. According to the World Bank Ease of Doing Business Index 2018, Morocco ranks number 3 in Africa after Mauritius and Rwanda. In North Africa, Morocco holds the highest ranking.

Globally, the country stands at rank number 69 out of 190 countries while in 2010, just eight years ago, Morocco only ranked number 128.

Morocco has already completed some major projects such as the Mediterranean bypass, the Tangiers-Agadir and El Jadida-Casablanca-Oujda motorways, work has already begun on the first section of the master plan for high-speed railway lines between Tangiers and Casablanca, the Tangiers-Mediterranean port, construction work at the port of Safi and the forthcoming ports of Nador West Med, Kénitra Atlantique and Dakhla Atlantique. In addition, there have been a lot of reforms of the road haulage and passenger transport sector, the rail sector and the reorganisation of the country’s ports by introducing competition both within and between ports have been initiated. A new development strategy for the merchant navy, the liberalisation of the aviation sector and the implementation of an ambitious development strategy for logistics activities encompassing all modes of transport is currently being drafted.

The ministry is also seeking to develop skills and training centres for the transport sector and to turn Morocco into a regional platform for industry, particularly for transport-related businesses by developing sub-contracting and maintenance industries for aeronautics, railways, shipyards, etc.

Booming hub for aerospace
A recent briefing by the US’s export.gov deemed Morocco as a central base in the region with high-quality facilities and more than 110 international aeronautical and aerospace companies operating in the kingdom. “Morocco boasts nearly 11,500 aviation professionals, of whom 50 percent are women. (Morocco’s) aerospace industry plans to double its capacity and number of operators and create 23,000 new jobs by 2020. The Casablanca Free Zone in Nouaceur is a designated industrial integrated platform with special support for investors in the aerospace sector,” it said.

The development of economic zones devoted to aerospace and other nascent industries has proved important in providing a platform for the growth of Morocco’s growing aviation-related sector. These include Aéropole Nouaceur in Casablanca, and free zones Midparc, in the same location, as well as facilities in Tangier, Kenitra, Oudja, and Salé, all of which host aerospace players.

The Midparc Casablanca Free Zone claims to be an extension of the Casablanca aviation industries zone that already hosts companies such as Boeing, Dassault Aviation, EADS Aviation, Ratier Figeac, Safran, and others.

Recently, the German thyssenkrupp Aerospace company announced the commissioning of a materials processing and logistics center in Casablanca by the end of 2018. The aim of the center is to supply the company’s “local customers with the required materials and services,” said Patrick Marous, thyssenkrupp Aerospace CEO.

“Morocco’s aerospace industry is booming. With an annual growth rate of over 15 percent, it is a significant driving force behind the nation’s economy. This encouraging development is also fueling demand for local material suppliers and service providers,” the company said in a press statement.
The government has also announced in 2017 it would develop, along with the Chinese MRO specialist Haite Group and the local BMCE Bank, the Mohammed VI Tangier Tech City, an economic hub able to generate 100,000 jobs, at least 90,000 of them guaranteed for the inhabitants of the often neglected Tangier region. The 2,000-hectare project involved an initial investment of $1 billion.

“It will involve the arrival of 200 Chinese companies operating in a variety of areas including the manufacturing of cars, the aeronautics industry, aviation replacement parts, electronic information, textiles, the manufacturing of machines, and many more. Total investment by companies in the zone after 10 years is expected to reach $10 billion,” the AMDI said in April 2017.

Meanwhile, Boeing and Safran are joint-venture partners in Morocco Aero-Technical Interconnect Systems (MATIS) Aerospace in Casablanca, a supplier that employs more than 1,000 people building wire bundles and wire harnesses for Boeing and other aerospace companies. Also, Boeing and the government of Morocco signed an agreement in September 2016 for Boeing to assist Morocco’s goal of further expanding its aerospace industry. Furthermore, a Bombardier manufacturing facility producing aircraft structures including flight controls for the CRJ Series aircraft is also located in Nouaceur. Construction of the permanent 13,935-sq-m facility by Bombardier at Nouaceur began in September 2013. In another development, Airbus Helicopters and Heliconia signed an agreement to create a service center in Marrakech for H125 and H135 helicopters.

Several masterplans for the years 2030-2035 have been drawn up and included in development programmes for Morocco for roads, motorways, railways, ports and airports that have already been completed or are still ongoing. These plans reflect a determined strategy to strengthen and modernise the main infrastructure and superstructure networks so that Morocco can act as a strong link in north-south trade between Africa and Europe as well as among the Mediterranean countries.

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