North Africa News January 2021

Covid-19 Status

(as at January 10, 2021)

Business

MOROCCO – Morocco to host the first automotive testing center in Africa
European road safety operators UTAC CERAM and FEV Group have selected Morocco as the venue for the first automotive testing center in Africa. The two companies will build the center in Oued Zem, 150 kilometers southeast of Casablanca. The facility will provide several services, including technical tests, driver training, and the measurement of car emissions. UTAC CERAM is a French group specialized in the regulation, approval, testing, and certification of land transport vehicles. Meanwhile, FEV Group is a German company specializing in developing intelligent road safety software.
Dec. 3, 2020

MOROCCO – Helios Investment Partners purchases 35% of BIM Morocco’s shares
British company Helios Investment Partners has purchased 35% of BIM Morocco’s shares, a Turkish retail company. BIM currently has 534 stores across Morocco, including 37 opened in 2020. The decision to sell 35% of the company’s shares to Helios Investment Partners seeks to improve BIM’s sustainability in Morocco.
Dec. 9, 2020

MOROCCO – American company to build a 900 megawatts wind farm in Morocco
American company Soluna Technologies is set to build a 900 megawatts wind farm in Dakhla, southern Morocco. The project will cover a total area of 11,313 hectares and require an initial investment of MAD 15 bn (EUR 1.4 bn). The project is set to become operational in six years and will generate approximately 400 jobs.
Dec. 11, 2020

MOROCCO – US company Adient to open a new production unit in Morocco
American car seat manufacturer Adient is set to open a new factory in Kenitra, 40 kilometers north of Rabat. The project will cover an area of 24,500 square meters and require an investment of USD 18.2 mn. The factory will generate 1,600 jobs. It seeks to supply seats for 750,000 vehicles every year. The new production unit will be Adient’s second in Morocco, after a factory in Tangier, launched in 2018.
Dec. 15, 2020

MOROCCO – American company plans to build six artificial lagoons in Morocco
American company Crystal Lagoons is planning to build six artificial lagoons in Morocco. The company is considering the cities of Marrakech, Casablanca, Rabat, Tangier, Fez, and Saidia to host its projects. The projects would be Crystal Lagoons’ first investments in Morocco. The company so far operates 190 swimming facilities around the world, including 29 in Africa.
Dec. 16, 2020

MOROCCO – Morocco to host the North African ‘Prosper Africa’ office
The US International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) is set to establish the North African office for its “Prosper Africa” project in Morocco. The project seeks to promote trade between the US and African states. The “Prosper Africa” office in Morocco will manage projects worth USD 1 bn and covering the entire North African region. The DFC also signed an agreement with the Moroccan government to invest USD 3 bn for projects in Morocco over the next four years.
Dec. 22, 2020 

MOROCCO – Polish helicopter manufacturer FlyArgo to expand in Morocco
Polish helicopter manufacturer FlyArgo is set to build a factory in southern Morocco. The company specializes in manufacturing light multi-usage helicopters. FlyArgo and the state-owned Polish Development Fund will co-finance the project in Morocco. A business delegation is set to visit the country in February 2021 to officialize the investment.
Dec. 24, 2020

TUNISIA – Vivo Energy and Tunisian Post Office to develop mobile payment services
British petroleum company Vivo Energy and the Tunisian Post Office have signed a partnership to develop mobile payment services. The agreement seeks to help generalize mobile payments in Tunisia. It also seeks to expand the services that Vivo Energy provides to its customers. The British company is one of the major petroleum distributors in Tunisia.
Dec. 3, 2020

TUNISIA – Tunisia launches plan to increase tobacco farms
Tunisia’s National Tobacco and Matches Board has launched a strategy to double the number of tobacco farmers in the country from 2,500 to 5,000. The plan seeks to increase the total area of tobacco farms in Tunisia from 600 to 2,000 hectares by 2023. Tunisia expects the strategy to reduce the country’s dependency on tobacco imports and generate annual revenue of TND 40 mn (EUR 12.4 mn).
Dec. 19, 2020

ALGERIA – Algeria’s East-West highway to open before the end of 2021
The Algerian East-West highway, which crosses the country horizontally, is set to become operational before the end of 2021. According to Algerian Prime Minister Abdelaziz Djerad, the project is in its final phase. The highway is one of Algeria’s major infrastructure projects. It will link the northwest and the northeast of the country.
Dec. 9, 2020

ALGERIA – Italian oil and gas company Eni to increase operations in Algeria
Italian oil and gas company Eni is set to increase its drilling operations in the Berkine basin, eastern Algeria. The Italian operator has signed an agreement with Algeria’s national oil company, Sonatrach. The agreement seeks to improve cooperation between the two oil and gas companies, notably through the exchange of experiences and training.
Dec. 10, 2020

ALGERIA – Algeria’s olive production records a 19.5% annual increase
Algeria’s olive production has reached 10.4 million quintals during the 2019-2020 agricultural season. The number represents a 19.5% increase compared to the previous season. In 2018-2019, Algerian farms only produced 8.7 million quintals of olives.
Dec. 10, 2020

ALGERIA – Algeria plans to start generating 1,000 megawatts of solar power in 2021
Algeria intends to launch solar power projects in 2021 with a total capacity of 1,000 megawatts. According to the Algerian minister for the energy transition, the country is currently negotiating partnerships with Germany, the US, and China. The official did not provide specifics about the projects but said they will allow Algeria to reach its 2035 objective of having solar power plants with a total capacity of 15,000 megawatts.
Dec. 21, 2020

Politics

MOROCCO – Morocco bans travel from the UK and Denmark
Morocco has banned travel from the UK and Denmark because of the new COVID-19 strain that was first reported in England. The ban on travel from the UK went into effect on December 20, while the ban on travel from Denmark was enforced on December 24. The travel restrictions will remain in place until further notice.
Dec. 20, 2020

MOROCCO – Morocco re-establishes official relations with Israel
Morocco and Israel have signed a joint declaration to re-establish bilateral relations. Under the declaration, the two countries pledged to reopen their diplomatic offices in Rabat and Tel Aviv. They also agreed to launch direct air routes between Morocco and Israel and grant each other overflight rights. The joint declaration seeks to promote bilateral economic cooperation as well, notably in the fields of trade, finance, investment, and technology.
Dec. 22, 2020

MOROCCO – Morocco imposes nationwide night curfew to curb the spread of COVID-19
The Moroccan government imposed a national night curfew, from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. Restaurants, cafes, shops, and supermarkets across Morocco also have to close at 8 p.m. Meanwhile, restaurants in the cities of Casablanca, Marrakech, Agadir, and Tangier are banned from opening and can only provide delivery services. The new measures, which entered into force on December 23, will last for at least three weeks.
Dec. 23, 2020

MOROCCO – Morocco purchases 65 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines
Morocco has purchased 65 million doses of the two COVID-19 vaccines the country will use in its upcoming national vaccination campaign. The Moroccan Ministry of Health has purchased vaccine doses from Chinese company Sinopharm and British-Swedish company AstraZeneca but did not specify the number of doses purchased from each pharmaceutical operator.
Dec. 24, 2020

MOROCCO – Morocco-UK Association Agreement enters into force
The Morocco-UK Association Agreement, which preserves bilateral relations after Brexit, entered into force on January 1, 2021. The agreement preserves all the benefits that the two countries granted each other under the Morocco-EU Association Agreement, notably in the field of trade. The new association agreement will allow bilateral trade between Morocco and the UK to continue normally in 2021.
Jan. 1, 2021

MOROCCO – Heavy rains block roads across Morocco
Morocco’s northern part has witnessed heavy rainfall for several consecutive days. The rain has blocked several roads and obstructed the normal flow of some trains. It also caused several floods in Morocco’s largest city, Casablanca, and the neighboring city of Mohammedia. Morocco’s Ministry of Transport urged citizens to avoid travel unless it is necessary. Travelers are advised to consult weather notices and the situation of roads on the ministry’s website when planning a trip.
Jan. 5, 2021

TUNISIA – Tunisia suspends flights from the UK, South Africa, Australia, and Denmark
Tunisia has suspended flights from the UK, South Africa, Australia, and Denmark due to the new strain of COVID-19. The suspension of flights from the UK, South Africa, and Australia went into force on December 21, while the travel ban from Denmark began on December 24. “The decision shall be applied until further notice,” said the Tunisian Ministry of Transport and Logistics.
Dec. 21, 2020

TUNISIA – Tunisia extends state of emergency by six months
Tunisian President Kais Saied has decided to extend the country’s state of emergency by six months, from December 26, 2020, to June 23, 2021. Tunisia’s state of emergency has been in place since November 2015, after the terrorist attack on a bus carrying presidential security guards. The state of emergency allows the Tunisian government to swiftly implement security measures in order to protect the safety of citizens.
Dec. 25, 2020

TUNISIA – Tunisia-UK Association Agreement enters into force
The Tunisia-UK Association Agreement entered into force on January 1, 2021. The agreement seeks to maintain the advantages that the two countries granted each other under the Tunisia-EU Association Agreement. The new agreement will allow Tunisia and the UK to maintain the same level of bilateral trade.
Jan. 1, 2021

ALGERIA – Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune returns to Algeria
Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune has returned to Algeria after a stay in Germany for COVID-19 treatment. Tebboune returned to his country after spending over two months in the European country. The Algerian president declared that he is yet to regain his full strength but he is healthy enough to resume his official duties.
Dec. 29, 2020

ALGERIA – Intercity buses and taxis in Algeria resume activity
The Algerian government has allowed the resumption of intercity buses and taxis. Buses will have to not exceed 50% of their total capacity. Meanwhile, taxis with a capacity of nine passengers can only transport five, and those with a capacity of seven passengers can transport four. The resumption of intercity transportation activity came in light of the relatively improving COVID-19 indicators in Algeria.
Dec. 31, 2020

MOROCCO, TUNISIA, ALGERIA – African Continental Free Trade Area sees the light of day
The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) entered into force on January 1, 2021. The economic bloc includes 54 members with a combined gross domestic product of USD 3 trn. Morocco, Tunisia, and Algeria have signed the agreement to join the AfCFTA in 2018 but are yet to ratify it. The economic bloc will create a single market for goods and services. It seeks to eliminate tariffs on 90% of intra-African goods, support the movement of capital and people between African countries, and reduce trade barriers.
Jan. 1, 2021

Economy

MOROCCO – Morocco issues USD 3 bn bond on the international financial market
Morocco has issued a USD 3 bn bond on the international financial market, with three separate tranches. The first tranche has a value of USD 750 mn a maturity of seven years, a price of 99.763%, and a rate of return of 2.412%, or a coupon of 2.375%. The second tranche has a value of USD 1 bn, a maturity of 12 years, a price of 99.570%, and a rate of return of 2.412%, or a coupon of 3%. The third tranche has a value of USD 1.3 bn, a maturity of 30 years, a price of 100%, and a rate of return of 4%, or a coupon of 4%. This is the first time Morocco has issued a bond in US dollars in seven years.
Dec. 9, 2020

TUNISIA – Tunisia’s foreign exchange reserve reaches its highest level since 2010
Tunisia’s foreign exchange reserve has reached TND 22.8 bn (EUR 6.9 bn) at the end of 2020. The amount is the highest since 2010. It can cover 159 days of Tunisia’s import needs. The country’s foreign exchange reserve grew by TND 3.9 bn (EUR 1.2 bn) compared to the end of 2019.
Dec. 31, 2020

ALGERIA – Electronic payment in Algeria witnesses a 406% surge from 2019 to 2020
The number of electronic payment operations in Algeria has increased by 406% between November 2019 and November 2020. The country recorded 3.4 million operations, representing 85.1% of the total financial transactions in Algeria between 2019 and 2020. The vast majority of electronic payment operations (91.6%) concerned telephone and internet bills.
Dec. 29, 2020

Key Economic Indicators