North Africa News June 2021

Covid-19 Status

(as at June 6, 2021)

Business

EGYPT – France’s Dassault Aviation sells 30 fighter jets to Egypt
The French Dassault Aviation company has sold 30 Rafale fighter jets to the Egyptian Armed Forces. The deal is reportedly worth EUR 3.7 bn and will be financed by a loan to be repaid over 10 years. The Egyptian army is one of Dassault Aviation’s main customers in North Africa. The company has already sold 24 similar aircraft to the Egyptian military back in 2015.
May 4, 2021

EGYPT – Hyundai Rotem to supply Cairo metro network with 32 trains
South Korean company Hyundai Rotem has signed a deal with the Egyptian Ministry of Transportation to supply 32 metro trains for the Cairo network. The first deal is worth EGP 6.4 bn (EUR 334 mn) and includes vehicle maintenance for eight years. Hyundai Rotem is set to deliver all the trains by 2023. Each of the vehicles has a maximum legal speed of 80km/h and room for 1,740 passengers.
May 12, 2021

EGYPT – Egypt to manufacture 100 electric cars starting next year
Egyptian automobile manufacturer Nasr has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Chinese Dongfeng Motor Corporation to start manufacturing 100 electric cars in Egypt next year. El Nasr Automotive Manufacturing Company will begin equipping one of its factories to manufacture electric cars, according to a statement from Egypt’s Minister of Public Business Sector. The ministry will also begin equipping several charging stations in cooperation with private companies to offer services for electric cars when they enter the market.
May 22, 2021

MOROCCO – Sound Energy to build a gas liquefaction plant in eastern Morocco
British oil and gas company Sound Energy is set to build a liquefaction plant in Tendrara, eastern Morocco, to begin commercializing the natural gas reserves of the region. The company expects to cover 9% of Morocco’s needs in liquefied natural gas (LNG) by the year 2025. Sound Energy had signed in 2018 a 25-year contract with Morocco’s National Office for Hydrocarbons and Mines (ONHYM) to exploit the natural gas reserves of Tendrara.
May 4, 2021

MOROCCO – Morocco reestablishes importation taxes on wheat
The Moroccan Government has approved the reestablishment of importation taxes on wheat. The decision is effective from May 15 for soft wheat and from June 1 for hard wheat. Morocco had canceled importation taxes on wheat in 2020 to facilitate its supply to the country, in light of the reduced local production due to drought. The decision to reestablish the taxes comes to protect local production from foreign competition.
May 6, 2021

MOROCCO – Morocco launches call for bids for studies on a desalination plant project
Morocco’s Ministry of Equipment has launched a call for bids for the technical studies concerning the Casablanca seawater desalination plant project – expected to be the largest project of its kind in Africa. The companies answering the call for bids must provide a diagnosis of seawater desalination processes in Morocco and internationally, a study of the quality of seawater in the project area, a study of sea currents in the project area, and a study of the pretreatment process of the future desalination plant. The estimated costs of the technical studies are MAD 6 mn (EUR 558,000). The seawater desalination plant project has a global budget of MAD 4 bn (EUR 372 mn) and is expected to process 200,000 cubic meters of water per day.
May 7, 2021

MOROCCO – Marita Group begins the construction of a luxurious real estate project in Rabat
International holding Marita Group has launched the construction works on the Dar Essalam Gardens Resort project in the Moroccan capital, Rabat. The real estate project consists of a luxurious residential neighborhood, made of “smart buildings.” The neighborhood will include 132 “smart” villas, equipped with high-tech facilities, along with a high-standing SPA, a luxurious hotel, an urban forest, and several green parks. Marita Group intends to sell the majority of the project’s villas to foreign diplomatic missions, but it also plans on renting some of the villas to foreign officials and VIPs who visit the Moroccan capital on official trips. Construction works are expected to end by 2024.
May 10, 2021

TUNISIA – Italian energy company SNAM plans to expand in Tunisia
Italian energy company SNAM has announced its plan to create an industrial platform in Tunisia. The platform would allow SNAM to collaborate with the renewable energy infrastructures available in Tunisia and to distribute its products, including green hydrogen and biomethane, in Europe. SNAM’s CEO made the announcement during a meeting with the Tunisian head of government, but he did not present a timeline for his company’s potential expansion in Tunisia.
May 6, 2021

TUNISIA – Tunisia offers 5,000 interest-free loans for companies impacted by COVID-19
The Tunisian Head of Government has announced that 5,000 companies impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic will benefit from loans of TND 5,000 (EUR 1,500). The loans will be free of interest. To benefit from the loans, businesses can register on the platform “Help Enterprise.” The head of government has also announced that companies heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic won’t have to pay for the social benefits of their employees until the end of 2021.
May 12, 2021

ALGERIA – Ministry of Energy inaugurates new gas pipeline in western Algeria
The Algerian Ministry of Energy has inaugurated a new 197-kilometer-long gas pipeline in the west of the country. The pipeline links the gas-rich Naama province, near the Moroccan border, to the northwestern province of Ain Temouchent. The project cost more than DZD 32 bn (EUR 197 mn) and was accomplished by two Algerian companies. According to the Ministry of Energy, the pipeline seeks to strengthen Algeria’s gas exportation network and to expand gas supply in the west of the country.
May 6, 2021

Politics

EGYPT – Egyptian government imposes new closing hours on businesses
The Egyptian government has announced that shops, cafes, restaurants, and malls will have to close their doors at 9 p.m., starting May 5. Egyptian authorities have also banned concerts, weddings, meetings, and conferences. The new measures seek to curb the spread of COVID-19 in the country.
May 5, 2021

MOROCCO – Moroccan government shortens nationwide night curfew
Morocco’s government has announced the shortening of the night curfew implemented to curb the spread of COVID-19 in the country. Starting May 21, the nationwide curfew runs from 11 p.m. to 4:30 a.m. instead of 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. Cafes, restaurants, and stores are also allowed to keep their doors open until 11 p.m.
May 20, 2021

MOROCCO – Morocco alleviates restrictive measures against COVID-19
The Moroccan government has alleviated a series of measures implemented to curb the spread of COVID-19 in the country. The decision includes allowing citizens to organize gatherings of up to 50 people in closed spaces and 100 people in open spaces, increasing the legal passenger limit in public transportation to 75% of the capacity instead of 50%, and reopening theaters, cinemas, cultural centers, museums, historical monuments, beaches, and swimming pools. The decision went into effect on June 1.
May 31, 2021

TUNISIA – Tunisia allows inter-region travel, reopening of cafes and restaurants
The Tunisian government has announced that the ban on travel between regions in the country is no longer in place, starting May 14 at 5 a.m. The government has also announced several decisions that go into effect from May 17, including the resumption of face-to-face classes in schools and universities, the reopening of cafes and restaurants, and the shortening of curfew hours to become from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.
May 12, 2021

TUNISIA – Tunisia to use AstraZeneca vaccines in vaccination campaign
The committee in charge of Tunisia’s national vaccination campaign against COVID-19 has announced that the country will start using the British-Swedish AstraZeneca vaccine. The vaccine was approved by the scientific committee at the Ministry of Health after it concluded it was safe to use. Before the decision, the Tunisian vaccination campaign exclusively used the Russian Sputnik V vaccine and the German-American Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.
May 21, 2021

ALGERIA – Electoral campaign begins in Algeria
The electoral campaign for the upcoming elections in Algeria, scheduled for June 12, began on May 20. The event will lead to the election of 407 deputies who will serve at Algeria’s National Popular Assembly for a five-year term. The elections will also lead to the appointment of a new Prime Minister from the winning party.
May 16, 2021

ALGERIA – Algeria reopens air borders with France, Spain, Tunisia, and Turkey
Algeria has partially reopened its international air borders with four countries: France, Spain, Tunisia, and Turkey. Algerian authorities will allow two weekly flights between Paris and Algeria, one with Marseille, one with Istanbul, one with Barcelona, and one with Tunis. Algeria’s national air carrier will operate the flights and seat priority will be given to Algerian citizens who were stranded abroad due to the COVID-19 pandemic or who need to travel abroad for studies or for professional reasons.
May 16, 2021

ALGERIA – Algerian government extends night curfew by one month in 19 Wilayas
The Algerian government has once again extended by one month the night curfew implemented to curb the spread of COVID-19 in 19 Wilayas (governorates). The curfew runs from midnight to 4 a.m. The concerned Wilayas include Algiers, Constantine, Oran, among others. Meanwhile, 39 other Wilayas are curfew-free.
May 20, 2021

Economy

EGYPT – S&P maintains B / B rating for Egypt with a stable outlook
Credit rating agency S&P has confirmed the sovereign rating of the Egyptian economy at the level of B / B in the long-term and short-term, with a stable outlook. According to S&P, the stabilization was due to Egypt’s economic and financial reforms and macroeconomic stability, which led to the accumulation of foreign exchange reserves and high growth rates in the two years before the COVID-19 pandemic.
May 9, 2021

EGYPT – Egyptian agricultural exports reach 3.3 million tonnes in the first four months of 2021
The amount of Egypt’s agricultural exports has increased by 250,000 tonnes in the first four months of 2021 compared to the same period in 2020 to reach 3.3 million tonnes. The country’s top exports included potato, onion, strawberry, pomegranate, sweet potato, green beans, beetroots, guava, bell pepper, mango, garlic, and grapes. Egyptian agricultural products have entered 160 markets, notably the United Kingdom, Italy, Russia, Romania, Poland, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.
May 30, 2021

MOROCCO – Morocco lost 202,000 jobs between Q1-2020 and Q1-2021
Morocco has lost 202,000 jobs in the first quarter of 2021, compared to the same period in 2020. The most affected sectors are agriculture and fisheries, along with industry. On the other hand, the sectors of services and construction witnessed an increase in the number of jobs. The changes to the job market increased the number of unemployed people in Morocco by 242,000 between the first quarters of 2020 and 2021, from 1,292,000 to 1,534,000. The unemployment rate has grown by 2 points over the same period, from 10.5% in the first quarter of 2020 to 12.5% in the first quarter of 2021.
May 3, 2021

MOROCCO – Fitch Ratings confirms Morocco’s BB+ rating
Fitch Ratings confirmed in May Morocco’s BB+ bond rating, which was initially announced in October 2020. The credit rating agency predicts Morocco’s public debt to increase to 68.8% of the GDP this year. However, it considers that the country has “comfortable” foreign exchange reserves.
May 5, 2021

MOROCCO – Moroccan customs record a 10% annual decline in revenue
Morocco’s customs revenue has witnessed a 10% annual decline in 2020. Moroccan customs authorities collected MAD 91 bn (EUR 8.5 bn) from import taxes. The figure is lower by MAD 9.7 bn (EUR 903 mn) compared to the number recorded in 2019. However, according to Morocco’s Customs and Indirect Taxes’ Administration, the results are relatively positive considering the “difficult” economic context.
May 11, 2021

TUNISIA – Foreign investments in Tunisia decreased by 31.6% in the first quarter of 2021
Foreign investments in Tunisia have witnessed a 31.6% decline in the first quarter of 2021 in comparison with the same period in 2020. Foreign investments stood at TND 345 mn (EUR 104 mn). The figure is 43.3% lower than the number recorded in 2019 and 38.3% lower than the one from 2018. The figure includes TND 342 mn (EUR 103 mn) of foreign direct investments and TND 3 mn (EUR 812,000) in portfolio investments.
May 5, 2021

TUNISIA – Tunisian economy shrinks by 3.0% in the first quarter of 2021
According to Tunisia’s National Statistics Institute (INS), the country’s economy has witnessed a negative growth of -3.0% in the first quarter of 2021, compared to the same period in 2020. Compared to the fourth quarter of 2020, however, Tunisia’s GDP has recorded a 0.1% growth. The agriculture sector witnessed the largest annual decline (-6.7%), followed by services (-6.0%), and manufacturing industries (-0.3%). On the other hand, the value of oil and gas extraction grew by 26.1%, non-manufacturing industries by 11.5%, and construction by 10.4%.
May 15, 2021

TUNISIA – Unemployment increases in Tunisia in the first three months of 2021
The number of unemployed people in Tunisia has grown from 725,100 to 742,800 between the fourth quarter of 2020 and the first quarter of 2021. This has pushed the country’s unemployment rate from 17.4% to 17.8%. The unemployment rate is highest among young people aged 15 to 24 where it reaches 40.8%. By gender, the unemployment rate stands at 15.0% for men and 23.8% for women.
May 15, 2021

ALGERIA – Online transactions in Algeria witness a 248% annual increase in value
The global value of online transactions in Algeria has witnessed an unprecedented annual increase of 247.8% in the first quarter of 2021. The value increased from DZD 634 mn (EUR 3.9 mn) in the first quarter of 2020 to DZD 2.2 bn (EUR 13.6 mn) in the same period of 2020. The number of online transactions reached nearly 1.8 million in the first three months of 2021. The vast majority of transactions concerned the telecommunications sector (1.6 million). The remaining transactions mainly concerned hotel reservations, administrative services, and utility bills.
May 9, 2021

ALGERIA – Algeria’s non-oil exports grow by 59% in the first quarter of 2021
The value of Algerian exports, excluding hydrocarbons, has increased from USD 547 mn in the first quarter of 2020 to USD 870 mn in the same period of 2021. The figures represent a 58.8% annual increase. The Algerian products that witnessed the highest growths in export value include cement (96.1%), sugar (65.7%), dates (40.6%), and mineral fertilizers (11.0%).
May 11, 2021

Key Economic Indicators