‘To achieve the Moroccan energy strategy, namely in renewable energies, Morocco has set up a local industrial policy for the implementation of solar and wind energy programs developed by the Moroccan Energy for Sustainable Energy (MASEN) and the National Office of Electricity and Drinking Water (ONEE),’ Says Mohamed Maliki, Ambassador of His Majesty the King of Morocco to the Republic of India. In an exclusive interview to Souvik Goswami, Elets News Network (ENN).
Shed some light on the strategic importance of Indo-Morocco relationship and the focus areas of cooperation between two countries?
It is important to mention, at the outset, that Morocco and India established their diplomatic relations in 1957, one year after the independence of Morocco. Today, the two countries maintain excellent relations in various fields. These relations have been further consolidated after the memorable meeting between His Majesty the King Mohammed VI and His Excellency the Indian Prime Minister, Mr. Narendra Modi, held on the sidelines of His Majesty’s participation in the 3rd Summit of the India-Africa Forum, in New Delhi in October 2015.
During that meeting, the two leaders expressed the common will to raise the level of the bilateral relations to a Strategic Partnership and to enhance them with a stronger ambition and a renewed horizon. The discussions revealed a convergence of views on the strategic place occupied by the development of the African continent and the importance of stability, security and sustainable economic and social development in Africa.
In fact, India, thanks to its geographic location, will be the gateway for Morocco to the rest of Asia. Morocco, on the other hand, due to its strategic location at the crossroad of Africa, Europe and the Arab world will be a platform for India towards these regions, especially Africa.
To talk about the areas of cooperation between Morocco and India, it is important to emphasize that the new dynamic between the two countries is concerned with many sectors of interest and is truly diversified.
How Indian companies and industry participation can boost development in Morocco?
Before answering this question, it is important to shed some light on what Morocco is today and what Morocco offers to the world business community.
The political will and the long-term vision of the King of Morocco, His Majesty Mohammed VI, since His Enthronement in 1999, are two important elements that have contributed in transforming Morocco to a propitious land of investment. This Royal vision focuses on the development of the infrastructure, mainly the highways, ports and airports, automotive and aeronautic industries, renewable energies such as the huge solar energy complex in Ouarzazate, financial platforms such as Casablanca Finance City and many other projects.
Thanks to its more than twelve centuries of history, Morocco is a stable country today in the eyes of its people, foreign tourists and investors. Thanks to the important reforms undertaken by His Majesty the King of Morocco, this ongoing and sustainable stability has giving investors more confidence to invest in the Kingdom and to continue to reinforce their investments.
Coming back to your question about the role that Indian companies and industries can play in the development in Morocco, I can say that several factors can enable them to play a very important role in this context. India, with the involvement of Indian companies in particular, has achieved an unprecedented technological revolution and set major records in medicine and health, telecommunications, space, defense industry, higher education, public transport, electrification, renewable energy, e-commerce, and especially in the management of the social problems of a population of about 1.2 billion, a number close to the totality of the population of the African countries.
With their experience in the listed fields, Indian companies can benefit tremendously from the progress happening in Morocco through a win-win situation.
Future road map for Indo-Morocco ties.
The bilateral relations between India and Morocco are excellent in all fields and sectors of mutual interests. In my point of view, what is needed, for the time being, is to focus more on connecting our people who, in fact, share a lot in common and have many similarities. This is why Morocco and India need to give more attention to their tourism exchange both ways. Actually around 15,000 Indians visit Morocco annually which is a small number comparing to the rich tourism potential of Morocco and to the total number of outbound Indian tourists.
However, the potential of growth is significant because of many elements such as the big size of the outbound Indian market (about 24 million Indians travel annually) and it is growing at an average of 10% annually.
Based on what tourism observers say and what surveys results show, most of the Indian travelers are saturated with the traditional destinations like Europe and Middle East and they are looking for newer destinations. We believe that Morocco has an exotic charm that can attract a sizeable number of Indian travelers. Thanks to its tourism strategy, Morocco is largely number one in Africa in terms of tourist’s arrival by receiving 12.3 millions foreign tourists in the year 2018.
Morocco is acutely aware that India is a fast growing tourists market, both inbound and outbound, as well as a very important source of tourists especially in the luxury segment. For this reason, Morocco has taken several measures to attract Indian tourists and facilitate their discovery of Morocco.
In this regard, His Excellency Mohammed Sajid, Minister of Tourism, Air Transport, Handicraft and Social Economy of the Kingdom of Morocco paid an official visit to India last September. This visit will remain a memorable moment as it marks the launching of the first regional office of the Moroccan National Tourist Office (ONMT) in South Asia, in New Delhi.
The Embassy of the Kingdom of Morocco in New Delhi has been focusing, since two years, on giving more importance to the tourism sector in order to develop and enhance the ties between Morocco and India and their people.
How Morocco is transforming itself by using New & Renewable energy?
The world is facing a major challenge – climate change is impacting hundreds of millions of people all over the world and everyone agrees today that renewable energies are the appropriate and ultimate solution to face the issues of securing energy supplies and access to energy while protecting the environment.
Aware that this situation is becoming even more complex, the Kingdom of Morocco has adopted since early 2000 an ambitious energy strategy, taking into consideration the Moroccan challenges, based on the development of renewable energies, the enforcement of energy efficiency and the encouragement of regional integration.
First of all, it is important to note that the birth of the Moroccan energy strategy could not have being possible without the clear vision of His Majesty Mohammed VI, the King of Morocco, who personally supported and followed closely its implementation.
This strategy has a clear roadmap with objectives with short, medium and long-term action plans, accompanied by legislative, regulatory and institutional reforms, to continuously improve the attractiveness of the Moroccan energy model.
It is important to mention, at this stage, that the awareness of using renewable energies in Morocco was also raised by the heavy energy bills that the country has been facing. Morocco, which is not an oil producing country, imported more than 90% of its energy needs. Therefore, the objective of the Moroccan energy strategy was to secure 42% of the country’s energy mix from renewable sources by 2020 and 52% by 2030 and so far it is obvious that the objective of 42% will be reached before the fixed deadline.