Sunday, May 13, 2007

My own private Morocco

"Agriculture remains a mainstay, a fact highlighted by the government’s estimate that GDP growth would be 3.5 per cent this year because of poor rains, in contrast to last year’s favourable weather. But Mr Oualalou says non-agricultural growth this year is forecast to be 5.2 per cent – the result of years of reforms that have begun liberalising the economy, paving the way for privatisations and higher foreign investment.

“Morocco is currently a big building site,” he says. “It is becoming less and less dependent on agriculture. Of course it concerns more than 40 per cent of the population, but its weight with respect to growth is diminishing due to the birth of new engines of growth.”

Samir Benmakhlouf, who returned 15 months ago to set up a subsidiary of Century 21, the US real estate firm, says: “The government has understood that it needs to get out of the way and let the private sector do what it is supposed to do.”

Yet for all the positives, Morocco still has far to go before it gets to grips with unemployment and poverty and ensures the wealth created does not simply benefit the small elite and rich foreigners. Most agree that not enough jobs are being created, and that reforms to the education and judicial systems are essential. "

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