Morocco: A match made in heaven

Morocco and Côte d’Ivoire have maintained a very close relationship, nurtured many years ago by the high regard King Hassan II and Félix Houphouët-Boigny, Côte d’Ivoire’s revered first President, had for each other.


Côte d’Ivoire has also long been the economic powerhouse of Francophone West Africa. So it was no surprise that the state visit of the King in March coincided with a flurry of cooperation, economic and bilateral agreements.
Over 100 key players in the Moroccan economy and some 450 dignitaries from Côte d’Ivoire met on 26th February 2014 to finalise contracts or cooperation agreements across all sectors.
The state visit to Abidjan was possibly the most fruitful for the Moroccan private sector. It showed that economic relations between Côte d’Ivoire and Morocco are in good shape, as confirmed by the announcement of 26 public-private partnership (PPP) economic cooperation agreements and conventions signed between Abidjan and Rabat. At a ministerial level, a number of agreements were signed to try and increase trade between the two countries. This should lead to increased cooperation in the areas of agriculture and fishing, ports, logistics and tourism. The objective of these agreements is to share expertise and for Moroccan companies to help develop and depend these industries in Côte d’Ivoire.
In the banking sector, a partnership agreement was established between the Banque Centrale Populaire Group of Morocco and the Ivorian Ministry for the Economy and Finance. This will enable the banking group to extend its services and expertise to the ministry and the wider Ivoirian financial services industry. This partnership agreement is wide ranging and the bank will assist, for example, in a financing programme for the Ivorian national education and technical teaching sector.
Mohamed Benchaaboun (see interview) was not the only high-level financier present. The other two leading financial institutions, BMCE and Attarijiwafa Bank, represented respectively by their CEOs Mohamed el Kettani and Othman Benjelloun, were also present to sign a number of financial cooperation agreements to boost lending to key strategic sectors in the economy and to SMEs, as demonstrated by a financing facility which would be guaranteed by the Africa Guarantee Fund.
In terms of urban planning, Mamadou Sanogo, the Minister for Construction, Housing, Sanitation and Urban Planning, signed an agreement with Hicham Berrada Sounni, Head of the Palmeraie Développement Group, for the construction of 10,000 social housing units. Another agreement on tourism projects was also signed between the two ministers, Hicham Berrada Sounni and Roger Kacou.
Well before that, King Mohammed VI proceeded with the launch of two building projects. In the two communes of
Koumassi and Yopougon, the Moroccan property group, Addoha, will be investing $270m to build 8,000 affordable homes.
Sail Alj, CEO of the Unimer Group, which deals in agribusiness, signed an MOU with the Ministry to help develop fish-farming facilities. This will authorise the latter to set up in Côte d’Ivoire with a view to promoting the operation of a pelagic fish processing and recycling plant.  
A Memorandum of Understanding on public health was signed between Côte d’Ivoire and the Cooper Pharma company in Morocco by Raymonde Goudou Coffie, Minister for Health and the Fight Against AIDS, and Jawad Cheikh Lahlou, the CEO of Cooper Pharma, to facilitate the construction of a medication production and industrial unit.
In terms of training elites, a framework cooperation and partnership agreement was signed by Seidou Diaby, Director of Study Bursaries at the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research, and the International University of Casablanca (UIC), represented by Tarafa Merouane, President of the Academic Council.
If the ties before were close, these numerous agreements will only strengthen the relationship between the two countries as they work closer and closer together. It is by sharing resources and expertise and creating strong growth poles, which Morocco and Côte d’Ivoire have become, that African growth and development will be fast tracked.

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