Casablanca, May 5, 2011 – Finishing a visit to Morocco today, World Bank Group President Robert B. Zoellick said that Morocco’s economic reforms and decade of good economic growth could be expanded through further reform and greater civic participation. Zoellick − who met with King Mohammed VI, key officials, and members of civil society − discussed Morocco’s reform agenda within the context of the historic changes across the Middle East and North Africa.
“Morocco has performed well economically, but Moroccans recognize rural areas and many people have lagged behind. The country’s renewed reform plans can accelerate momentum. The reform plans will be more successful and lasting if the process draws on the creativity and energy of all parts of society. Morocco’s potential depends on enabling its people to achieve their full potential within a globalized economy,” said Zoellick. “I’m pleased to have had the chance to listen to Moroccans describe their plans and hopes, and the World Bank looks forward to working with the government as a partner to support further reforms, growth and inclusive development.''
Zoellick gave a speech at the Deuxiemes Assises de l’Industrie, the high-level Industry Summit hosted by His Majesty the King to address the country’s Pacte d’Emergence, or National Pact for Industrial Emergence. Developed through broad consultations between the public and private sectors before its launch in 2009, the Pacte sets out an industrial development strategy in the areas of competitiveness for Morocco. The Industry Summit provides a high-level forum to assess the implementation of the plan. He also confirmed that the Bank was pushing ahead energetically to finalize preparations for the Ouarzazate Solar Plant, expected to be the first of its size in Africa.
“Morocco’s Concentrated Solar Power plans have the potential to be a game-changer in the production of solar energy,” said Zoellick. “Solar power in Morocco is a win-win opportunity to generate green energy, foster a key innovative sector grounded in North Africa, and boost jobs.”
With at least 1 Gigiwatt in potential power, the equivalent of three times the world’s capacity today, Morocco and North Africa offers a tremendous platform to deliver solar power to Europe. Zoellick said that harnessing this untapped green power requires close cooperation with European states and institutions.
Making remarks at the industry conference about Morocco’s growth and competitiveness, Zoellick said: “Success depends on making progress on multiple fronts in a mutually supportive way. Through our development policy loans, the World Bank is working with your government to strengthen economic governance so as to: attract technology and know-how; encourage innovation; upgrade the trade logistics infrastructure; reform the training and education system to bring the right skills to the market; and ensure that good labor market policies and social safety nets are in place to support this economic transformation.”
Zoellick pointed out that since 2005, the World Bank has supported Morocco’s National Initiative for Human Development (INDH), which has financed more than 22,000 projects, at an average of $70,000 per project; targeting more than five million beneficiaries, with budget appropriations over $1.5 billion. In those rural areas targeted by the INDH, the poverty rate has decreased from 36 to 21 percent. By developing networks of associations, the INDH has helped foster a new civic awareness, encouraging people to partner with public authorities to drive and direct development. Zoellick emphasized the need to build on this strong first phase, and strengthen implementation in the second phase through rigorous measurement and assessment of performance.
In an early April policy address before the World Bank’s Spring Meetings, “The Middle East and North Africa: A New Social Contract for Development”, Zoellick said the Bank would not only promote institutional reforms but also look into providing more support for civil society as a way of making government more accountable to people.
Zoellick said that he had long been interested in Morocco’s development, and that he was proud to have completed the US-Morocco Free Trade Agreement in 2004 to help boost economic reforms and a more diversified economy.
During his visit to Morocco, Zoellick met with Mr. Mohamed El Yazghi, Minister of State; Mr. Salaheddine Mezouar, Minister of Finance and Economy; Mr. Nizar Baraka, Minister of Economic and General Affairs; Minister Aziz Akhannouch, Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries; Ms. Amina Benkhadra, Minister of Energy, Water and Environment; and Mr. Mustapha Bakkoury, Head of the Moroccan Solar Energy Agency (MASEN). Zoellick also met with members of the private sector, and his consultative meeting with civil society representatives had a special focus on youth groups.
The World Bank provides about $700 million a year in support to Morocco. Areas of Bank focus include health, overcoming poverty, climate change and solar energy, vulnerable populations, and Morocco’s agricultural plan, Plan Maroc Vert.
The World Bank’s private sector arm, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), has a committed portfolio of $202 million in 13 companies. IFC is seeking to increase its investment program in Morocco, with a specific focus on access to finance for micro, small, and medium enterprises; renewable energy; infrastructure; agribusiness; education and IT services; automotive; and other growth sectors. IFC also encourages regional integration through investments in regional private equity funds for small and medium enterprises and cross border investments from Morocco to Sub-Saharan Africa. And IFC has been supporting the Government of Morocco on Public Private Partnerships, including by signing a Memorandum of Agreement with the Ministry of Finance last October.