Tourism: Investment Volume Reached MAD 8 Bln by End 2023 (Minister)

Rabat - The volume of investment in the tourism sector reached 8 billion dirhams by the end of 2023, announced, on Tuesday in Rabat, Minister of Tourism, Handicrafts and the Social and Solidarity Economy, Fatim-Zahra Ammor. In terms of accelerating and developing investment in tourist accommodation and entertainment, well-known global brands are showing increasing interest in investing in Morocco, while regional development companies have been set up specifically for small and medium-sized businesses, and the 'Go Siyaha' program has been launched to support 1,700 tourism businesses, stressed Ammor in her reply to a question on the state of the tourism sector in Morocco, during the weekly session of oral questions at the House of Councillors. She also pointed out that Morocco has a clear vision for the tourism sector, aiming to reach 26 million tourists by 2030, with the launch of the 2023-2026 roadmap, backed by a budget of 6.1 billion dirhams, which is already beginning to bear fruit and is based on a new concept of tourism offering centered on the tourist experience through 9 thematic sectors and 5 cross-cutting sectors. To implement this roadmap, 7 regional contracts have been signed to date in the regions of Fez-Meknes, Beni Mellal-Khenifra, Tangier-Tetouan-Al Hoceima, Draa-Tafilalet, Dakhla-Oued Eddahab, Souss-Massa and the Eastern region, in addition to the development of 5 contracts for the other regions, she added. After just 14 months of implementing the roadmap, the Minister reported that significant progress had been made, including the launch of the 'Morocco, Land of Light' promotional campaign on 20 world markets, a 22% increase in the number of air transport seats by 2023, and the signing of a partnership with Ryanair to open up several regions, including the opening of 24 international and 11 national air routes. Source: Agence Marocaine De Presse

Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy: Morocco’s Experience Highlighted in Washington

Washington - Morocco's ambassador to the United States, Youssef Amrani, on Monday took part, in Washington, in a meeting chaired by U.S. Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, Bonnie Jenkins, on the the Sustained Dialogue on Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy, Science and Technology (SDPU). During this meeting held at the State Department, Mr. Amrani welcomed efforts made within the framework of the SDPU initiative, "an important platform and a precious partner" for scientific and technological cooperation in several key sectors, particularly water, environment, food and health. The diplomat stressed that the objectives of this initiative are in line with Morocco's national priorities set out in the New Development Model, as well as with the Kingdom's commitments to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The ambassador said in this regard that Morocco takes part in activities related to SDPU in particular through its competent agencies, namely the National Center for Energy a nd Nuclear Science and Technology (CNESTEN) and the Moroccan Agency for Nuclear and Radiological Safety and Security (AMSSNuR). Since joining the IAEA in 1957, Morocco has introduced nuclear techniques for peaceful uses in various sectors and has benefited from the IAEA's effective cooperation and support, including through training, expertise and the acquisition of cutting-edge equipment, he added. AMSSNuR and CNESTEN are both recognized, at the regional and continental levels, as centers of excellence in capacity building, training and technical support, in addition to their regulatory missions in this area, the ambassador pointed out. Regarding the support provided by Morocco to African countries in this area, the diplomat expressed the Kingdom's readiness to promote triangular and multilateral cooperation initiatives, involving on the one hand the SDPU and the IAEA, and on the other the Member States concerned. Such partnerships would further strengthen knowledge and expertise in this important area a cross Africa, Mr. Amrani underlined. The SDPU aims to expand the conversation on peaceful uses of nuclear technology and identify opportunities for enhancing access to such technology in a manner guided by the interest of those engaged in the dialogue. With a participant-driven approach, the program brings together diverse stakeholders including national policy makers, the private sector, and the broader international development community. Source: Agence Marocaine De Presse

Morocco Participates in 175th FAO Session in Rome

Rome - The 175th session of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations commenced on Monday in Rome, with Morocco actively participating. The session, which runs until June 14, addresses key issues related to global food security and agricultural initiatives. Morocco's delegation is led by Ambassador Youssef Balla, the Kingdom's Permanent Representative to the UN agencies in Rome. The team includes Redouane Arrach, Secretary-General of the Ministry of Agriculture, Maritime Fisheries, Rural Development, and Water and Forests; Abdellah Larhmaid, Deputy Permanent Representative; and Reda Ayouch, Director of Strategy and Statistics at the Ministry of Agriculture. During the session, the Moroccan delegation underscored the significance of the 33rd FAO Regional Conference for Africa, which took place in Rabat from April 18 to 20, 2024. They lauded the outcomes of the conference, highlighting it as a pivotal platform for African nations to reaffirm their commitment to sustainable agricultural growth and to bolster the FAO's role in this endeavor. As the newly appointed President of the FAO Conference for Africa for the next two years, Morocco emphasized the collective dedication of African countries to contribute to agricultural development in alignment with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the 2030 Agenda. The Moroccan delegation also called on the FAO to enhance its partnership with African member states to optimize their efforts, particularly regarding the implementation of the post-Malabo action plan within the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP). The 175th FAO Council session will tackle critical topics, including global food security challenges, the effects of geopolitical events on food systems, and the execution of regional agricultural initiatives. The FAO Council, consisting of 49 members including Morocco, serves as the executive arm of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, overseeing the implementation of its programs and polic ies. Source: Agence Marocaine De Presse

Casablanca Stock Exchange Starts on High Note

Casablanca - - The Casablanca Stock Exchange began trading higher on Monday, with its main index, the MASI, rising by 0.18% reaching 13,220.89 points. On Friday, the MASI closed with a loss of 0.35% at 13,197.04 points. Source: Agence Marocaine De Presse

FG committed to infrastructure development through PPP – ICRC boss

Mr Michael Ohiani, Director-General, Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC), says the Federal Government remains committed to infrastructure development through Public-Private Partnership (PPP). Ohiani said this at the Second Quarter 2024 Public-Private Partnership Units Consultative Forum(3PUCF) Meeting in Abuja on Friday. The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the forum provides a platform for PPP departments in Ministries Departments and Agencies(MDAs) and stakeholders to share ideas, success stories, and challenges on their PPP projects to drive economic growth in Nigeria. The meeting was hosted by the Federal Road and Maintenance Agency (FERMA). Ohiani said that within the second quarter, the commission successfully issued Outline and Full Business Case Compliance Certificates in respect of key PPP projects from several MDAs. He said between April and June 2024, the commission issued 14 Outline Business Case (OBC) Compliance Certificates and two Full Business Case (FBC) Compli ance Certificates. Ohiani said the commission would continue to issue OBC and FBC certificates as the need arises. He said some projects which had been issued OBC Compliance Certificates in the second quarter included the Infrastructure Development of Residential Buildings at the Federal School of Forestry, Jos. Ohiani said others were the Design and Development of eight Hostel accommodations at the University of Lagos, Campus, Akoko. 'Others are the development of 240 Housing Units of two and three Bedroom Bungalows at Nigerian Airspace Management Agency's land located at Jaba, Kano State. 'The Operation and Management of Kashimbila Integrated Cargo/Agro-Allied Airport, Taraba, and Implementation of the Nigerian National Patronage Cash Reward Programme. 'Also, the Implementation of Metal and Mineral Operational Audit and Export Certification programme, and the Implementation and Development of the Electronic Enforcement and Penalty Management (eTraffika).' Ohiani said FBC Compliance Certificates were issued for the following projects which included the Implementation and Development of the Electronic Enforcement and Penalty Management (eTraffika). 'Also the Renovation and Upgrading of School of Nursing Student Hostel, University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan, Oyo State.' He said the commission had also continued to monitor PPP projects which were at the implementation stage. 'Just last week, our staff and the relevant officers of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security visited 17 silo complexes across the Federation.' Ohiani reiterated the commission's commitment to continue to build PPP capacity across MDAs and PPP practitioners through its training arm- the Nigeria Institute of Infrastructure and Public-Private Partnership. He urged the members of the forum to take advantage of the opportunities the training institute provided. 'We also invite you to take advantage of the MBA in PPP and PhD in Management (PPP option) programmes which are being run in collaboration with the Malaysia University of Science and Technology.' Ohiani expressed his appreciation to members of the forum for their continued valued contributions to its sustenance and overall success. 'I, therefore, encourage us all to continue to advance with the various projects across our MDAs up to implementation and possible hand-back, as these will have a direct positive bearing on the wellbeing of Nigerians. ' I encourage us to sustain the shared vision of a prosperous and infrastructure-sufficient country for the coming generations.' Source: News Agency of Nigeria

NCS’ bold steps to ease trade operations in Nigeria

With its poverty rate hitting 38.9 per cent in 2023, Nigeria has continued to battle several social and economic problems, throwing up an avalanche of concerns for both the leaders and the populace. The populous African nation has continued to battle food shortages, poor infrastructure, unemployment, while striving to make quality health care and education affordable. It is also confronted with security challenges ranging from banditry, militancy, separatist agitations, among others. With these challenges getting more serious by the day, experts say that the prospects of overcoming them may not be so bright with the nation's monolithic economy that depends substantially on oil. They say that short and long term measures must be initiated if the nation is to be salvaged from its many woes. One recurrent suggestion has been the need to diversify the economy, especially with the global upsurge in energy transition, which is expected to reduce the demand for oil. Relying on the oil sector, in spite of the t ransition, will diminish the nation's revenue base, the experts have always pointed out, while emphasising the need to build resilience to navigate the situation by leveraging opportunities in other sectors. Sectors that provide such revenue options include agriculture, mining, manufacturing, among others. In line with this, President Bola Tinubu's administration has continued to focus on reforming the economy to deliver sustained growth that would have multiplier effects on all aspects of life. To this effect, government has continued to develop and implement policies and initiatives designed to generate revenue from the non-oil sector. One of such policies focuses on trade reforms. The idea is encapsulated in the Trade Policy Of Nigeria(TPN) 2023 to 2027, designed to promote trade as a tool for economic growth and development. It aims at using trade as a catalyst to develop a diversified and competitive economy. While it hinges on government's commitment to an open and transparent trade policy, one of its key objectives is to address constraints limiting Nigeria's potential to participate effectively in international trade. As part of efforts to address these constraints, the Nigeria Customs Service(NCS), in 2022 embarked on a journey to reposition and ease trade operations in the country through its Trade Modernisation Project(TMP), which has three phases. The project is a 20-year concession agreement signed on May 27, 2023 between the Federal Government of Nigeria, represented by the NCS Board, and the Trade Modernisation Project Ltd. The TMP is the automation of the business processes of the NCS. It seeks to simplify and enhance the experience of stakeholders in the trade value chain. It is aimed at making it easy to obtain export and import clearances. It will also ease the payment of duties and the release of goods. Shortly put, it is a long term rescue plan aimed at ensuring predictable and transparent processes and procedures for imports, exports and transit trade. According to the General Man ager of the Concessionaire, Mr Ahmed Ogunshola, the project creates the basis for improving NCS' services which include improving revenue generation, facilitating trade development and minimising corruption in trade facilitation. The project is aimed at automating trade operation processes using a software described as the Unified Customs Management System(UCMS), to be deployed by NCS, which would soon be inaugurated by the Federal Government. The UCMS is the core of the operational activities and underpins the decision chain and command of goods clearance for release, in line with the requisite taxes and waivers of the Federal Government. The automation aims to address leakages in the revenue collection of customs duties and includes Electronic Cargo Tracking System. This system gives traders access through the UCM to comprehensively monitor their transactions from the beginning of the process until the delivery of their goods, and act appropriate where they experience hiccups. The system also facilitat es Electronic Port System, Logistics Monitoring System, Mobile Enforcement System and Intelligent Gate System. In addition to providing further ease of cross border trading, its major advantage is the significant long-term impact it would have on the social and economic development of the country. At the end of the 20 year period, the project is expected to generate in excess, 250 billion dollars as revenue for Nigeria. This is because automating the process helps to increase revenue collection due to improved trading experiences, which would increase trading frequency and, therefore, revenue from chargeable duties. While Nigeria gets to use the revenue to fund its infrastructure development, create jobs, address its security challenges, it would also develop other non-oil sectors to ensure sustainable development. On the current stage of the development of software to be deployed to drive the modernisation process, the Head of the Business Section of the Project, Usman Abba, a Chief Supritendent of Cust oms, said that all internal sytems had been completed, and final touches were being made on stakeholders' integration. While this is the first phase of the process spanning year one to six, with two more phases to go, it is expected that at a stage, all systems must be deployed to hardware, software and technology services. The reform, through the project, is expected to streamline customs processes, reduce delays and cut down on corruption. As a result, businesses can operate more efficiently, and government can collect more accurate and timely revenues from trade activities. Additionally, aligning trade policies with international standards can attract more global partners and increase Nigeria's share of global trade. As the implementation of this project gets to its peak, excited analysts say that Nigeria can look forward to a more dynamic, efficient and profitable trade sector, driving sustainable economic growth and prosperity. Source: News Agency of Nigeria