Investing in Morocco is an opportunity for Spanish companies to increase their presence on the African continent, but also to further consolidate economic cooperation between Rabat and Madrid, Moroccan entrepreneurs said.
Co-organized by the Spanish group La Razón, this first Spain-Morocco Economic Forum, bringing together many personalities from the Hispano-Moroccan economic and commercial scene, aimed to highlight the relations enjoyed by Morocco and Spain, in particular their economic partnership as well as the new opportunities to be seized to continue to generate mutual benefits.
Present at the Forum, the Moroccan Minister of Equipment and Water, Nizar Baraka, recalled that Spain has been Morocco’s main trading partner since 2013, “a dynamic that continues to grow”.
In this sense, he underlined that after the signing of the new roadmap between Spain and Morocco in 2022, trade increased by 22% to 20,000 million euros, so that in 2022 the Spain has become the first customer and the main supplier of Morocco with a growth of 25%.
“More than 100,000 Spanish companies are already established in Morocco. Exchanges can be further strengthened if our economies take advantage of their complementarity and their proximity to build genuine integrated, sustainable and innovative industrial ecosystems in fields as varied as infrastructure, energy transition, textiles or the automobile.”added the Minister.
He also mentioned the energy transition and decarbonization as new opportunities for cooperation to continue to generate mutual benefits around investments in renewable energies or the development of green hydrogen.
“There is still a lot to do and the challenges are many. Spain is preparing to preside over the Council of the EU. It is time to forge a more ambitious relationship with Morocco.”he said.
For his part, Mohammed Benchaib, administrator and general manager of BBI Madrid-Bank of Africa recalled that there are many opportunities for collaboration between the two countries. “Morocco is an opportunity, a platform for entry into Africa for Spanish companies”, did he declare.
In Morocco, ” there are real customers, a real market, perfect knowledge between importers and exporters. And this is an encouraging factor for co-investment“, he said, highlighting the existence of real opportunities for collaboration.
In this context, Bank of Africa can play a very important role. ” Our activity consists of supporting Spanish and Moroccan companies wishing to establish themselves in both countries. Not only financially, but also in terms of market knowledge, finding partners or market research. We are the only African entity in Spain. And we have historical Spanish clients who value our services“, he argued.
Experiences of collaboration between Spanish and Moroccan companies have yielded more than positive results, as evidenced by two of the cases presented at the forum, namely Barceló and Gaia Energy.
Ángel Esquinas, general manager of Barceló Hotel Group in Morocco and Tunisia, explained that the company started its activity in Morocco in 2006 with its first hotel in Casablanca. And since then, we have increased the number of units” , did he declare.
And to add: “We have reproduced the model we had in the Canary Islands and our objective in Morocco is to grow” and consolidate its success. His latest notable case, he said, is the Barceló Tanger, a 1971 hotel that the chain has completely renovated.
Esquinas affirmed that the confidence offered by the Moroccan authorities “urges us to renovate all the hotels we have in Morocco”. In Marrakech, for example, Barceló is creating a desert-inspired theme park to attract customers. And in the establishment of Agadir, and “we plan to build a water park that will complement its appeal”he explained.
Gaia Energy’s collaboration with Spanish companies has also been more than satisfactory. Its founder and president, Moundir Zniber, said that they have launched a renewable energy project in collaboration with Iberdrola, with an investment of 600 million euros.
They also have other ongoing collaborations in the field of hydrogen with companies such as Enagás and Arcelor, which are very satisfactory. ” We have created a collaborative environment that shows that Moroccan companies can live up to the expectations of Spanish companies, as evidenced by the project with Iberdrola. And there are other companies that can be reliable partners“, clarified Zniber.
According to the boss of Gaia Energy, Morocco could be ” the next +Saudi Arabia+ of green energy. It could produce a large volume of carbon-free energy that Europe needs. And this could be achieved with Spanish companies such as Abengoa or Iberdrola“. However, for this, he added, the country “ needs an opening that allows the private sector to take a more prominent place, helping the public sector“, without replacing it.