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Moroccan businesses come in full force

Moroccan businesses come in full force

Almost three-fold in number from last year’s delegation that visited Ethiopia, 90 Moroccan businesses have arrived in Addis Ababa this week to take part in the 3rd Ethio-Moroccan Business Forum where companies such as OCP and Tanger Med Group have expressed possibilities of investing in the sugar, livestock feeds and industrial park development projects in Ethiopia.

During the forum, Fayçal Benameur, managing director of OCP Ethiopia, a subsidiary of OCP Africa under the OCP Group said that in addition to the USD 3.7 billion ongoing industrial complex, which will process phosphate fertilizer in Eastern Ethiopia, the company is looking into ways to venture on sugar development, horticulture and livestock subsectors in Ethiopia.

Currently, supplying Ethiopia with a phosphate fertilizer manufactured in Morocco, OCP is likely to dominate supplies of chemical inputs the Ethiopian agriculture is becoming reliant on. According to Benameur, the ongoing fertilizer complex which is to be erected in Dire Dawa, some 445 kilometers from Addis Ababa is strategically chosen in view of future prospects of fertilizer exports.

The project will create 1,200 jobs during its construction phase and some 500 jobs when it becomes operational. Since 2012, a particular phosphate formula suited for soil conditions in Ethiopia was developed following studies (fertility soil map of the country) conducted by the Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources and the Agricultural Transformation Agency (ATA).

Following suit, Tanger Med Group expressed interest in joining the industrial parks development businesses. However, representatives of the Group declined to give further details claiming it is too early to divulge its plans.

According to the information posted on its website, Tanger Med is a global logistics gateway located on the Strait of Gibraltar and connected to 174 ports worldwide and provides a processing capacity of nine million containers, seven million passengers, 700 000 trucks and one million vehicles.

Both Rakiya Edderphem, state secretary of the ministry of trade, investment, industry and digital economy of the Kingdom of Morocco and Bekele Bulado (PhD), minister of trade have conferred to strengthen trade and economic ties of the two countries while the actual trade volumes remain significantly low.  According to Bekele, Ethiopia’s export to morocco, mostly of beans, coffee and ginger accounting for 90 percent of the export volume generates USD 8.3 million annually. Morocco exports to Ethiopia, a USD 198 million worth of merchandise on yearly basis.

For Zahra Maafiri, general manager of Moroccan center for export promotion, the trends are quickly changing that many of her country fellows are focusing on the Anglophone region, mostly the Eastern Africa region. More business ties will be expected between Ethiopia and Morocco, she noted.

Similarly, Aklilu HaileMichael (PhD), state minister of foreign affairs, expressed that relations between the two countries is showing strong drive. Apart from the interests OCP and the likes have, businesses are waging interests in areas of oil production, transport and logistics corresponding to the five pillars of economic diplomacy.

However, despite the surge in the foreign direct investment, the World Bank reported last year, the ongoing unrest in the country is a concern to some.