North Africa News February 2021

Covid-19 Status

(as at January 31, 2021)

Business

MOROCCO – Moroccan-Italian consortium to build a 270 MW wind farm on Atlantic coast
A Moroccan-Italian consortium is set to build a wind farm in Jbel Lahdid, approximately 25 kilometers north of Essaouira, on the Atlantic coast. Moroccan energy company Nareva Holding and Italian renewable energy corporation Enel Green Power will jointly work on the project. The wind farm will have a capacity of 270 megawatts and will cost an investment of MAD 2.8 bn (EUR 259.3 mn). The project will become operational in the first half of 2023.
Jan.1, 2021

MOROCCO – Import tax on Turkish textile products increases from 27% to 36%
The Moroccan import tax on Turkish textile products has increased from 27% to 36%. The additional tax entered into force on January 1. The Moroccan government increased the tax in the amended Morocco-Turkey Free Trade Agreement.
Jan. 1, 2021

MOROCCO – Morocco begins a support program for gyms, restaurants, creative industries
The Moroccan government has launched a series of measures to support gyms, restaurants, and businesses in creative industries (music producers, moviemakers, publishers, etc.). The measures include a monthly stipend of MAD 2,000 (EUR 184) for all employees of these sectors, until the end of March 2021. The government also extended the deadline for business owners to pay annual taxes and social security fees for their employees until the end of April 2021.
Jan. 6, 2020

MOROCCO – Two Japanese companies to open four new factories in Morocco
Japanese wire harness manufacturers Yazaki and Sumitomo are set to open four different factories in Morocco, for a total investment of MAD 912 mn (EUR 84.5 mn). Yazaki will open three new factories in Tangier, Kenitra, and Meknes. The new industrial units will cost an investment of MAD 462 mn (EUR 42.8 mn) and generate 6,300 jobs. Meanwhile, Sumitomo will open its fifth Moroccan factory in Casablanca. The project has a budget of MAD 450 mn (EUR 41.7 mn) and will generate 2,000 jobs.
Jan. 12, 2021

MOROCCO – Online transactions in Morocco increased by 46.5% in 2020
The number of online transactions with Moroccan credit cards has reached 13.8 million in 2020, marking a 46.5% increase compared to 2019. The value of the transactions, meanwhile, exceeded MAD 5.7 bn (USD 638.6 mn). The figure is 29.7% higher than the value of online transactions in 2019. The number of online transactions on Moroccan websites exclusively also increased between 2019 and 2020. It reached 503,197 transactions this year, 33.7% more than the previous year.
Jan. 14, 2020

MOROCCO – French company opens an optical fiber manufacturing company in Morocco
French optical fiber manufacturing company Nexans has opened a new factory in Nouaceur, near Casablanca. The industrial unit will produce accessories for connecting optical fiber cables, along with other internet tools. The factory is built over a total surface of 6,000 square meters. It will employ between 250 and 300 workers by the year 2022.
Jan. 19, 2021

TUNISIA – Tunisia to financially support business prospection trips in Africa
The Tunisian Center for the Promotion of Exports (CEPEX) has announced it will support companies based in Tunisia to prospect 10 African markets. The CEPEX will reimburse 70% of the costs of business trips to Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Nigeria, Cameroon, Benin, Rwanda, DR Congo, and Ghana. The reimbursed costs include flight tickets, as well as daily expenses, up to TND 600 (EUR 183) per day, for a maximal duration of five days per trip. The advantages will cover two representatives per company and business trip.
Jan. 3, 2021

TUNISIA – Tunisia opens call for bids for research of four new mining zones
The Tunisian Ministry of Industry, Energy, and Mines has published a call for bids for researching four new mining zones in the governorates of Gabes and Sfax, in eastern Tunisia, totaling an area of 3,800 hectares. Three zones concern mining activities for natural salts, while the fourth zone concerns mining for monomineralic rocks. The announced budgets concern research activities for a period of three years.
Jan. 10, 2021

TUNISIA – Chinese smartphone manufacturer Umidigi enters the Tunisian market
Chinese smartphone manufacturer Umidigi has decided to make its entry into the Tunisian market with two smartphones, 4G A7S and A7 Pro. Founded in 2012, this is the first time Umidigi releases some of its products in Tunisia. The Chinese company’s smartphones are currently marketed in more than 100 countries. The manufacturer has developed over 55 different smartphone models.
Jan. 20, 2021

TUNISIA – Tunisia launches call for companies wishing to expand in future logistics zone
The Commerce and Industry Chamber of Sfax has launched a call for companies wishing to operate in the future logistics zone of Gargour, in eastern Tunisia. The project will be achieved through public-private partnerships between the Tunisian Ministry of Transport and Logistics and private operators. The logistics zone of Gargour will be built over a surface of 38 hectares. Located off Tunisia’s Mediterranean coast, the project will provide several logistical services, allowing companies to easily export their products. Tunisian authorities have set the application deadline for companies wishing to take part in the project on February 26.
Jan. 22, 2021

ALGERIA – Algeria suspends the importing of red meat
The Algerian government has decided to suspend the importing of red meat, including frozen meat. The measure comes to implement the presidential instructions to reduce imports and promote local products. According to the Ministry of Agriculture, Algeria’s red meat imports exceed 50,000 tonnes every year and significantly impact the country’s foreign exchange reserve.
Jan. 15, 2021

ALGERIA – South Korean, Algerian steel companies sign partnership agreement
South Korean steel-making company Posco is set to help the Algerian Qatari Steel (AQS) company market its products at an international level. The two companies signed a partnership agreement, under which AQS will export 150,000 tonnes of reinforced bars and steel billets to Posco’s subsidiaries in Europe in 2021.
Jan. 27, 2021

Politics

MOROCCO – Restaurants in four Moroccan cities resume table service
The Moroccan government has allowed restaurants in the cities of Tangier, Marrakech, Agadir, and Casablanca to resume table service. Between December 23, 2020, and January 13, 2021, restaurants in the four cities were banned from hosting customers and were only allowed to offer food delivery services. Starting January 14, the ban on table service in restaurants is no longer in place. Restaurants in the four cities, however, have to shut their doors by 8 p.m., similarly to restaurants in other cities.
Jan. 13, 2020

MOROCCO – Morocco extends the night curfew for two additional weeks
The Moroccan government has extended the national night curfew put in place to curb the spread of COVID-19 for two additional weeks, counting from January 19. The curfew bans citizens from leaving their homes between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m., except for essential needs, such as professional obligations or medical emergencies. The extension also concerns the imposed closing time on restaurants and shops, set at 8 p.m., as well as the ban on large gatherings.
Jan. 19, 2020

MOROCCO – Morocco launches a national vaccination campaign against COVID-19
Morocco has launched a national vaccination campaign against COVID-19. King Mohammed VI officially inaugurated the campaign by receiving the first dose of vaccine. The campaign will first benefit health workers aged 40 and over, security officers and local authorities aged 45 and more, and senior citizens aged 75 and over. After Morocco receives more vaccine doses, it will expand the campaign to cover at least 80% of the Moroccan population, in order to achieve herd immunity. Morocco is using vaccines from British-Swedish company AstraZeneca and Chinese manufacturer Sinopharm.
Jan. 28, 2020

TUNISIA – Tunisia’s head of government announces a cabinet reshuffle
Tunisian Head of Government Hichem Mechichi has announced a cabinet reshuffle. “This reshuffle comes after a review of the government’s output,” Mechichi said, “It seeks to ensure development and stability.” The reshuffle concerned 11 different ministers, including the ministers of the interior, justice, industry, energy, vocational training, youth, agriculture, culture, and health.
Jan. 16, 2020

TUNISIA – Tunisia imposes a seven-day quarantine on visitors from abroad
Tunisia’s Ministry of Health has announced that starting February 1, all travelers entering the country will have to undergo quarantine for seven days. The measure seeks to curb the spread of COVID-19. The preventive measure concerns all travelers entering Tunisia, even if they went abroad on a short trip. Travelers will also have to present at their arrival the result of a PCR test, which is less than 72 hours old. On the seventh day of the quarantine, travelers will have to undergo a COVID-19 test before they can leave confinement.
Jan. 25, 2020

ALGERIA – Algeria extends the partial lockdown for 15 more days
The Algerian government has extended the partial lockdown in 29 wilayas (governorates) from January 16 until February 1. The partial lockdown includes a night curfew, from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m., in 29 different wilayas, including Algiers, Setif, Oran, and Tizi Ouzou. The measures also include a 50% capacity limit for intercity buses and trains, as well as domestic flights. Cafes and restaurants in the 29 wilayas are also banned from opening and can only provide food delivery services.
Jan. 16, 2020

ALGERIA – Algeria launches a national vaccination campaign against COVID-19
Algerian health authorities have launched a national vaccination campaign against COVID-19. The campaign will first cover health workers, the elderly, and people suffering from chronic illnesses. It will later benefit security services, teachers, officials, and journalists. Algeria is using the Russian Sputnik V vaccine, as well as the British-Swedish AstraZeneca vaccine. The Algerian Ministry of Health has mobilized about 8,000 vaccination centers across the country for the campaign.
Jan. 30, 2020

Economy

MOROCCO – Morocco’s GDP declined by 7.0% in 2020
Morocco’s GDP growth stood at -7.0% in 2020, according to the Moroccan High Commission for Planning (HCP). The added value of Morocco’s primary sector witnessed a 7.1% decline in 2020, while the value of the secondary and tertiary sectors combined decreased by 6.6%. In 2021, the HCP predicts Morocco’s GDP to bounce back and record a 4.6% growth. The added value of the primary sector is expected to increase by 11%, while the value of the secondary and tertiary sectors combined would grow by 3.6%.
Jan. 13, 2020

TUNISIA – Tunisia’s fruit exports reached 30,000 tonnes in 2020
Tunisia’s total fruit exports stood at about 30,000 tonnes in 2020, with a total value of TND 75 mn (EUR 22.9 mn). Compared to 2019, the exports are 37.5% lower in amount and 31.8% lower in value. Libya was the main importer of Tunisian fruits in 2020, with 17,000 tonnes, followed by Italy (6,000 tonnes), and France (1,712 tonnes).
Jan. 17, 2020

ALGERIA – Algeria’s exports stood at USD 23.8 bn in 2020
Algeria’s exports have recorded an annual decrease of 33% in 2020, standing at USD 23.8 bn. The country’s imports, meanwhile, witnessed an 18% annual decline, reaching USD 34.4 bn. This has increased Algeria’s trade deficit, which now stands at USD 10.6 bn. In 2020, Algeria purchased 17% of its imports from China, making the Asian country Algeria’s main trade partner. France came second (10% of imports), followed by Italy (7%), Germany (7%), and Spain (6%).
Jan. 14, 2020

Key Economic Indicators