EBRD President visits Morocco

By Nibal Zgheib

The President of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Sir Suma Chakrabarti, set the stage for a long-term engagement by the Bank in Morocco during a visit to the north African country on 4-5 December.

In his first visit to Morocco since becoming EBRD President in July 2012, Sir Suma said the Bank would put a strong focus on supporting the development of small and medium-sized enterprises. “This whole sector is very important to help with job creation right across the country,” he said during talks in the Moroccan capital, Rabat.

Investments in Morocco were already underway and the EBRD had a strong pipeline of projects for the future, he added.

President Chakrabarti held discussions with senior Moroccan officials including Head of Government Abdelilah Benkirane, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Karim Ghellab and Abdelatif Jouahri, the Governor of the Moroccan central bank.

In its investments so far, the EBRD has made a €20 commitment to the Maghreb Private Equity Fund (MPEF III) and a €20 million loan to Societe Generale Marocaine Bank (SGMB) is expected to be signed shortly. Both investments will be used to support the development of small and medium-sized enterprises in Morocco.

Sir Suma said EBRD investments would also focus on financing across the whole agribusiness sector, in sustainable energy development and energy efficiency, in the provision of local services such as water and other utilities, as well as in information technology, property and tourism and the broader manufacturing sector.

The President also held talks in Casablanca, where the EBRD has opened a temporary office and where it is planning a permanent representation with a full team of staff working on the ground in Morocco. “We are here as a long-term partner,” he said.

Meetings in Casablanca included discussions with the employers’ association, the Confederation des Entreprises Marocaines (CGEM).

The EBRD expects to be investing up to €2.5 billion by 2015 across the southern and eastern Mediterranean region which comprises Morocco, and also Egypt, Jordan and Tunisia.

It extended its reach to this area in response to calls for support from the international community and from the countries themselves following political changes in the region. The EBRD was originally set up in 1991 to foster the development of market economies primarily in central and eastern Europe.