North Africa News April 2021

Covid-19 Status

(as at April 4, 2021)

Business

MOROCCO – Moroccan government approves legalization of cannabis
The Moroccan government has approved a draft law relating to the legalization of cannabis. The legal text provides a framework for cultivating, producing, manufacturing, transporting, marketing, exporting, and importing cannabis for medical and industrial usage. The law is yet to undergo the voting process at the Parliament before it can become official.
Mar. 11, 2021

MOROCCO – British mining company Altus Strategies to operate three sites in Morocco
British mining company Altus Strategies has won three calls for bids for mining projects in Morocco. The projects concern mining for copper and silver, over a total surface of 252 square kilometers in the Anti-Atlas Mountains, central Morocco. Altus Strategies will operate the three mining sites through its Moroccan subsidiary, Aterian Resources Ltd.
Mar. 15, 2021

MOROCCO – Business creation in Morocco declined by 11.7% in 2020
The number of businesses created in Morocco has witnessed an 11.7% annual decline in the year 2020, according to the Moroccan Office of Industrial and Commercial Property (OMPIC). The number of businesses created in the country stood at 83,806 in 2020, including 39% in the trade sector, 17% in the construction and real estate sector, and 16% in other service sectors. The OMPIC suggests that the COVID-19 lockdown has contributed to the decline in the number of created businesses.
Mar. 17, 2021

MOROCCO – French rail company Alstom to maintain Morocco’s electric locomotives
French rail transport manufacturer Alstom has signed an agreement with Morocco’s National Railway Office (ONCF) to provide maintenance for ONCF’s new Prima M4 electric locomotives. Alstom earned in 2018 a contract to provide the ONCF with 30 Prima M4 locomotives. The French company has already delivered 15, including 10 that are already in service. The new agreement gives Alstom maintenance responsibility as well.
Mar. 19, 2021

MOROCCO – Moroccan and Israeli business associations sign a partnership agreement
The General Confederation of Enterprises in Morocco (CGEM) has signed a partnership agreement with the Israeli Employers and Business Organizations (IEBO), the Manufacturers’ Association of Israel (MAI), and the Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce (FICC). The agreement aims to promote economic and trade relations between Morocco and Israel. It also seeks to facilitate the exchange of information and experiences between Moroccan and Israeli businesses.
Mar. 22, 2021

TUNISIA – Tunisia launches website to help companies impacted by COVID-19
The Tunisian Ministry of Economy has launched an online platform to allow companies impacted by COVID-19 to benefit from the country’s supportive measures. The concerned companies can apply through the link: https://entreprise.finance.gov.tn, until the end of June 2021. The measures include a guarantee mechanism for loans and delayed payments of taxes. Companies wishing to benefit from the measures would have to attach all the necessary supporting documents to their applications, as presented on the online platform.
Mar. 3, 2021

TUNISIA – Tunisia launches its 1st locally-manufactured satellite
Tunisian telecommunication company Telnet Holding and Russian space agency Roscosmos have made a successful launch of Challenger One, the first satellite entirely manufactured in Tunisia. The satellite is equipped with thermometers, pollution sensors, location chips, and humidity sensors. Its mission will last from five to seven years. Tunisian President Kaïs Saïed announced that Telnet Holding plans to launch 20 additional satellites in the coming years, in partnership with other countries, notably from Africa and the Arab world.
Mar. 22, 2021

ALGERIA – Algeria launches online platform for business creation
The Bank of Algeria, the country’s central bank, has adopted a regulation that allows Algerian exporters to receive the entirety of their revenue in foreign currency. According to the Bank of Algeria, the decision aims to facilitate exporters to use foreign currency in their transactions without the formalities linked to bank domiciliation and currency exchange. This will encourage Algerian companies to increase their exports, the Bank of Algeria hopes.
Mar. 28, 2021

ALGERIA –Algeria extends measures protecting banks and businesses from COVID-19
The Bank of Algeria, the country’s central bank, has extended the measures put in place to support financial institutions and local businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic until June 30. The measures concerning banks and financial institutions include reducing the liquidity coverage ratio (LCR) and exempting banks from the obligation of building a liquidity cushion. Meanwhile, the measures concerning businesses include the postponement of loan reimbursements without penalties.
Mar. 30, 2021

Politics

MOROCCO – Morocco extends national curfew for two additional weeks
The Moroccan government has once again extended the national night curfew put in place to curb the spread of COVID-19 in the country. The latest extension runs from March 30 until April 12. The national curfew prevents citizens from leaving their homes between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m., except for exceptional circumstances. Shops, restaurants, and other facilities must close before 8 p.m. Meanwhile, all parties and social gatherings are prohibited.
Mar. 29, 2021

MOROCCO – Morocco suspends flights with France and Spain
Morocco has suspended flights with France and Spain, among other countries, to prevent the spread of new COVID-19 variants into the country. In total, Morocco has suspended air routes with 39 countries: France, Spain, Italy, Belgium, Turkey, Switzerland, Germany, the Netherlands, Austria, Portugal, Sweden, Ukraine, the Czech Republic, Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, South Africa, Denmark, the United Kingdom, Brazil, Algeria, Egypt, Poland, Norway, Finland, Greece, Lebanon, Kuwait, Argentina, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Cameroon, Croatia, Mozambique, Mali, Ghana, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea, and Libya.
Mar. 29, 2021

TUNISIA – Tunisia launches national vaccination campaign against COVID-19
Tunisia has launched its national vaccination campaign against COVID-19 after it received 30,000 doses of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine. The first category of people to benefit from the campaign is health workers who have direct contact with COVID-19 patients. More people will benefit from vaccination after Tunisia receives additional vaccine doses.
Mar. 13, 2021

ALGERIA – Mali’s President makes official visit to Algeria
Mali’s President, Bah N’Daw, has made a 72-hour official visit to Algeria. During the visit, he met with his Algerian counterpart Abdelmadjid Tebboune and several senior Algerian officials. Discussions between Malian and Algerian officials revolved around bilateral cooperation in the fields of business and defense, as well as the situation of the Malian community living in Algeria.
Mar. 15, 2021

ALGERIA – Algeria to hold legislative elections in June 2021
Algeria will hold legislative elections to elect the members of the People’s National Assembly on June 12, 2021. Candidates will hold election campaigns between May 17 and June 8. More than 24.3 million Algerians are registered to vote. Last February, Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune dissolved the lower house of Parliament to push for early elections.
Mar. 29, 2021

ALGERIA – Algeria removes night curfew restrictions from several governorates
The Algerian government has reduced the number of wilayas (governorates) where a night curfew is imposed to nine. The concerned wilayas are Batna, Biskra, Blida, Tebessa, Tizi-Ouzou, Algiers, Jijel, Sidi Bel Abbes, and Oran. In these wilayas, citizens are not allowed to leave their homes between 11 p.m. and 4 a.m. On the other hand, 49 wilayas do not have any restrictions in place. The Algerian government updates the lists every 15 days, depending on the epidemiological situation in each region.
Mar. 30, 2021

Economy

MOROCCO – AfDB forecasts 4.5% economic growth in Morocco in 2021
The African Development Bank (AfDB) has forecast Morocco’s GDP to grow by 4.5% in 2021 and 3.2% in 2022. In its annual report, “Economic Perspectives in Africa,” the AfDB predicted that the Moroccan economy will begin to fully recover in the third quarter of 2020, thanks to the exportation of automotive parts and phosphates. According to the AfDB, these exports will compensate for the losses of the tourism and catering sectors.
Mar. 12, 2021

MOROCCO – Morocco’s trade deficit records 16% annual decline by end of February
Morocco’s trade deficit stood at MAD 24.9 bn (EUR 2.3 bn) by the end of February. The figure is MAD 4.7 bn (EUR 441.8 mn) or 16% lower than the deficit recorded in the first two months of 2020. Morocco’s exports have reached a total value of MAD 49.6 bn (EUR 4.7 bn) by the end of February – about 2.5% lower than the previous year. Meanwhile, the country’s imports stood at MAD 74.6 bn (EUR 7.0 bn) – approximately 7.4% lower than the previous year.
Apr. 2, 2021

TUNISIA – AfDB forecasts 2.0% economic growth in Tunisia in 2021
The AfDB has forecast Tunisia’s GDP to grow by 2.0% in 2021 and 3.9% in 2022. The bank has also predicted Tunisia’s inflation rate to maintain its downward trend, standing at 5.7% in 2021 and decreasing to 4.3% in 2022, thanks to the “careful” Tunisian monetary policy. According to AfDB’s annual report, the risks that Tunisia can face in the near future are a third wave of the pandemic, political instability, and the lack of financial resources available for companies.
Mar. 12, 2021

TUNISIA – Tunisia records increase in quantity of date exports and decrease in value
The quantity of dates that Tunisia has exported since the start of the 2020-2021 agricultural season in October has reached 81,800 tonnes as of March 15, with a total value of TND 535.8 mn (EUR 160.7 mn). Compared to the same period of the 2019-2020 season, Tunisia’s date exports have increased by 1.8% in quantity but decreased by 3.7% in value. Tunisia has exported dates to 82 countries around the world, including Morocco (20,700 tonnes), Italy (6,700 tonnes), France (6,400 tonnes), Germany (5,900 tonnes), and Malaysia (5,600 tonnes).
Mar. 15, 2021

ALGERIA – AfDB forecasts 3.4% economic growth in Algeria in 2021
The AfDB has forecast Algeria’s GDP to grow by 3.4% in 2021 and 2.9% in 2022. The bank has also predicted a downward trend in the country’s trade deficit. It is expected to decline from 14.8% to 13.8% in 2021 and 11.1% in 2022. The AfDB, however, encouraged Algeria to enlarge its tax base and reduce its dependence on hydrocarbons to help the Algerian economy recover quickly.
Mar. 12, 2021

Key Economic Indicators