North Africa News March 2021

Covid-19 Status

(as at March 7, 2021)

Business

MOROCCO – French tech company IDEMIA to develop biometric solutions for Morocco
French multinational technology company IDEMIA has won a call for bids to develop Morocco’s national population register. The company signed a contract worth EUR 6.1 mn with Morocco’s Ministry of the Interior. Under the contract, IDEMIA will develop biometric digital systems for the Moroccan state. The operator will also provide maintenance for the systems. This is the second major contract IDEMIA secures in Morocco. It previously won a call for bids for the creation of a new generation of Moroccan national identity cards.
Feb. 4, 2021

MOROCCO – Fairmont Hotels and Resorts to open new hotel in Morocco in April
The Fairmont Taghazout Bay – Fairmont’s newest luxury hotel in Morocco – will open on April 1, the global hotel chain has announced. The hotel, located 17 kilometers away from the city of Agadir, will offer 150 suites and 52 villas with a sea view. Built over an area of 8 hectares, the luxury tourist accommodation will also offer several outdoor activities for visitors.
Feb. 8, 2021

MOROCCO – General Electric to build two electricity stations in Boujdour
American multinational conglomerate General Electric (GE) has earned a contract to build two electricity stations in the city of Boujdour, on the Atlantic coast. The stations will supply nearby villages with the electricity generated by the 300 megawatts Boujdour wind farm. The stations that GE will build will have a capacity of 400 kilovolts and 225 kilovolts. The Boujdour wind farm aims to generate 200,000 houses with clean energy.
Feb. 10, 2021

MOROCCO – Morocco launches new program to support industrial startups
Morocco’s Ministry of Industry has launched a new program to support industrial startups called “Tatwir – Startup.” The initiative will provide training to 5,000 entrepreneurs over three years. It will also help finance 300 different startups over the same period. The ministry will cover up to 30% of the startups’ initial investment costs. Applications are open on the website of “Maroc PME” – the Moroccan association for small and mid-sized businesses.
Feb. 15, 2021

TUNISIA – Tunisair allows passengers to change flight dates free of charge
Tunisian airline Tunisair has announced that passengers can change the date of their flight tickets without any penalty for all flights until the end of 2021. The offer will end on December 31, 2021. Passengers wishing to change the date of their flight tickets must do so at least 24 hours before the initial departure time. The measure seeks to encourage travel despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
Feb. 4, 2021

TUNISIA – German operator Dräxlmaier to launch new engineering center in Tunisia
German automotive supplier Dräxlmaier has acquired a lot in Novation City Technopole Sousse, northeastern Tunisia. The lot will host Dräxlmaier’s newest development and design center in Tunisia. The facility will specialize in developing vehicle electronics. Dräxlmaier already has two other production units in Sousse, specialized in the manufacturing of cable harnesses and the design of vehicle interior systems.
Feb. 8, 2021

ALGERIA – Chinese and Malaysian operators compete to decongest roads in Algiers
Algeria’s Ministry of Transport has preselected two Chinese-Algerian consortiums and one Chinese-Malaysian consortium as part of a call for bids to decongest roads in Algiers. The ministry launched the call for bids in March 2020. The companies that will earn the contract will have to upgrade and expand road infrastructures in the Algerian capital to prevent traffic jams. According to the transport ministry, the Chinese companies have offered to mobilize financing from Chinese banks.
Feb. 1, 2021

ALGERIA – Algeria purchases new ferry manufactured by China
Algeria will receive a new ferry manufactured by Chinese companies Guangzhou Shipyard International and China Shipbuilding Trading Company. The ferry, which costs USD 175 mn, has a maximum capacity of 1,800 passengers and 600 vehicles. Algeria’s National Company for Passenger Maritime Transport (ENTMV) is expected to use the ferry for one of its routes between northern Algeria and Europe.
Feb. 3, 2021

ALGERIA – Algeria launches online platform for business creation
Algeria’s Ministry of Trade has launched an online platform for creating businesses. The unprecedented initiative will allow entrepreneurs to remotely register their companies. According to the Algerian minister of trade, the digital platform aims to facilitate the creation of businesses and encourage entrepreneurs to launch their projects. Algeria hopes that the new portal will improve the business climate in the country and encourage investments.
Feb. 11, 2021

Politics

MOROCCO – Morocco further expands vaccination campaign against COVID-19
Morocco has expanded the categories of people eligible for vaccination against COVID-19 to include citizens aged 60 to 64 and people suffering from chronic illnesses. The other beneficiaries of the national vaccination campaign against COVID-19 are medical staff aged 40 and over, as well as security services, local authorities, and teachers aged 45 and more.
Feb. 24, 2021

MOROCCO – Morocco further extends its national night curfew
Morocco has extended its national night curfew for two additional weeks, counting from March 2. The curfew, which seeks to curb the spread of COVID-19, prevents citizens from leaving their homes between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m., except for essential needs. It also requires restaurants, cafes, shops, and supermarkets to close before 8 p.m. The night curfew was first introduced on December 21, 2020. It has so far witnessed four different extensions.
Mar. 1, 2021

MOROCCO – Morocco suspends flights with additional countries
Morocco has suspended flights with several additional countries to prevent the spread of new COVID-19 variants into the country. In total, Morocco has suspended air routes with 20 countries: Brazil, the UK, Denmark, South Africa, New Zealand, Ireland, Australia, the Czech Republic, Ukraine, Sweden, Portugal, Austria, the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, Turkey, Belgium, Italy, Algeria, and Egypt.
Mar. 5, 2021

TUNISIA – Tunisia alleviates night curfew and preventive measures against COVID-19
Tunisia’s Ministry of Health has decided to alleviate the national curfew against the spread of COVID-19, starting March 8. The night curfew will run from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., while cafes and restaurants will have to close their doors at 8 p.m. Tunisian citizens will also be able to travel freely between cities, except for a few regions considered as hotspots for the pandemic. Finally, the Ministry of Health canceled the mandatory quarantine in hotels for people coming from abroad. After their arrival, travelers will be able to spend a 48-hour quarantine wherever they prefer.
Mar. 5, 2021

ALGERIA – Algeria alleviates lockdown measures and allows some businesses to resume
The Algerian government has decided to alleviate lockdown measures in the country. Starting February 15, the night curfew will last from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., instead of 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. The mandatory closing hour for stores has also been adjusted to 10 p.m. Cafes and restaurants can also resume table service, on the condition that they do not exceed a 50% capacity. Hotels are allowed to reopen as well, as long as they do not exceed 50% of their maximal capacity.
Feb. 14, 2021

ALGERIA – Algerian president dissolves parliament to push for new elections
Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune has dissolved the country’s parliament to organize new legislative elections. The decision, according to Tebboune, aims to put an end to corruption in Algeria’s political sphere and establish a new, legitimate national assembly. The date of the legislative elections is yet to be announced, but the Algerian Constitution stipulates that they should take place less than three months after the dissolution of parliament.
Feb. 18, 2021

Economy

MOROCCO – Cargo activity in Moroccan ports increased by 5.1% in 2020
The volume of cargo that transited through Moroccan ports in 2020 stood at 92.5 million tonnes, marking an annual increase of 5.1%. The imports that went through ports in Morocco increased by 4.4% and stood at a total amount of 56.1 million tonnes. The imported products that witnessed the highest annual increase were cereals (34.4%), sugar (8.9%), animal feed (3.4%), and coal (3.1%). Meanwhile, the exports that transited through Moroccan ports increased by 7.6%, with a total volume of 33.5 million tonnes. The export that witnessed the highest increase was fertilizers (34.4%). The volume of cabotage – the transportation of goods between Moroccan ports – stood at 2.9 million tonnes in 2020, marking an annual decrease of 7.2%.
Feb. 1, 2021

MOROCCO – EU removes Morocco from ‘grey list’ of tax havens
The EU has removed Morocco from its “grey list” of tax havens. Morocco “now complies with all international tax standards, which allows it to appear in the list of countries that have shown a positive evolution in their tax laws and practices,” an EU official told Morocco’s state media. Morocco has been working on its tax reform since 2018, seeking to improve its fiscal policy and make it more transparent and equitable.
Feb. 22, 2021

TUNISIA – Tunisia attracted over EUR 565 mn of foreign investments in 2020
Foreign investments in Tunisia have reached a total value of TND 1,885.9 mn (EUR 565.6 mn) in 2020. The figure is 28.8% lower than the foreign investments recorded in 2019. The investments include TND 51.1 mn (EUR 15.3 mn) as portfolio investments and TND 1,834.4 mn (EUR 550.3 mn) as foreign direct investments (FDIs). About 56.0% of the investments concern the industry sector, 33.8% concern energy, 9.1% concern services, and 1.0% concern agriculture.
Feb. 12, 2021

TUNISIA – Tunisia recorded -8.8% GDP contraction in 2020
Tunisia’s annual GDP growth stood at -8.8% in 2020, according to the country’s National Institute of Statistics (INS). The recession is “unprecedented,” the INS has announced. Tunisia has witnessed a 2.1% decline in GDP in the first quarter of 2020, a 21.3% drop in the second, a 5.7% decrease in the third, and a 6.1% contraction in the fourth. Tunisia had recorded a 0.9% GDP growth in 2019 and a 2.9% growth in 2018.
Feb. 15, 2021

TUNISIA – Industrial production in Tunisia recorded 5.2% decline in 2020
Industrial production in Tunisia has witnessed an annual decline of 5.2% in 2020. The decrease is mainly due to production drops in the clothing and leather industries (-16.8%), ceramic and glass manufacturing (-16.2%), mechanic and electric industries (-12.9%), and paper processing (-11.6%). Other industry sectors that witnessed declines in production in 2020 include plastic and rubber (-10.6%), chemicals (-6.3%), and energy (-2.8%). On the other hand, the food industry witnessed an annual increase of 3.0% in production.
Feb. 18, 2021

TUNISIA – Moody’s downgrades Tunisia’s sovereign rating to B3
Credit rating agency Moody’s has downgraded Tunisia’s sovereign rating to B3. According to Moody’s, the reason behind the decision is the political and economic scene in Tunisia. The B3 rating is on the lower end of Moody’s rating scale. It considers Tunisian bonds as “highly speculative.”
Feb. 23, 2021

ALGERIA – Algeria climbs 29 ranks in UNCTAD’s 2020 E-Commerce Index
Algeria has recorded one of the largest climbs in the 2020 E-Commerce Index. The North African country climbed 29 spots, from the 109th rank in 2019 to the 80th position in 2020. The index, compiled by the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), measures the performance of e-commerce in countries based on several criteria, including the access to secure internet services, the reliability of postal and telecommunication services, and the part of the population that uses the internet and online payment services. Algeria has also ranked fourth in Africa. Tunisia ranked 77th in the world and third in Africa, while Morocco ranked 95th worldwide and ninth in the continent.
Feb. 17, 2021

Key Economic Indicators