The mineret that takes you home

About Membership Volunteer Newsletters Souk Links

Virtual Magazine of Morocco on the Web
Morocco Week in Review 
December 20, 2014

Morocco: Aids Awareness Campaign Targets Young Moroccans
By Siham Ali Rabat —

Young people are at the heart of the AIDS awareness campaign running December 1st - 24th in Morocco. That focus is justified by the fact that 51% of the 31,000 people living with HIV or AIDS in Morocco are aged between 15 and 34, according to the Association for the Prevention of AIDS (ALCS). Young people comprise more than 30% of the population. Roughly 80% of the young people who are infected are unaware of their HIV status. Some 60% of people living with HIV or AIDS enter the treatment system only in the later stages of the disease. Every year, there are nearly 3,100 new infections, and 1,400 deaths linked to the virus.

The Sidaction 2014 campaign is aimed at encouraging young people to go for screening. Professor Hakima Himmich, the ALCS president, says that young people represent Morocco's future, and that it is therefore important to remain on course for an AIDS-free generation.

Sociologist Karim Touhami welcomes the contribution made by civil society to raising awareness of the disease. Targeting young people is sensible in more than one respect, he says."A great many of them don't know how it is transmitted and how to minimise the risks; others, because they're afraid of taking the plunge and getting tested, cut themselves off and don't get medical advice, even though it's been proven that early care will enable someone who's carrying the virus not to pass it on," he says.

In addition to raising awareness, the campaign will collect funds that will be used to care for people living with the disease."Our fundraising will enable us to develop and step up our work directly, and will therefore help us to fight this disease," Himmich says. Her association is working hard to provide medical and psychosocial care for people living with HIV or AIDS. Local prevention and awareness campaigns are taking place among key sectors of the population - lorry drivers, labourers, men engaging in sexual relations with other men and sex workers, migrants, drug users and young people - as well as the general public.

Hakima, 46, is one of those receiving care. She contracted HIV from her husband, who died 10 years ago. She tells Magharebia she did not know she was infected with the virus until her husband died."His doctor advised me to have a test. And that's when I discovered the catastrophic news. My family turned their backs on me, and no one wanted to sit at the same table with me anymore. I had to move to another town so that I could live on my own, away from the judgmental attitudes of my family and neighbours," she says bitterly.

Ahmed, 34, also moved after he contracted the virus three years ago."Fortunately, I had a test early on. It's not the family that's eating me up; it's the looks I get from my family and friends that haunt me. I can't live among them. I've had to go far away, where no one knows what's going on," he says with tears in his eyes.

The awareness campaign is also aimed at removing the stigma for people living with HIV or AIDS. Indeed, there is still a lot of prejudice in Morocco over the way the virus is spread."People who test positive are systematically accused of living a debauched lifestyle and people are afraid of approaching them," Touhami says. "It's high time Moroccans became aware of the different ways in which the virus is transmitted, to avoid stigmatisation."

Morocco rethinks direct aid for poor .
By Siham Ali in Rabat for Magharebia – 26/12/2014

The direct assistance for the poor that the Moroccan government promised in 2012 has been slow in coming.The government "rushed" into announcing direct financial support for the underprivileged, Mohamed El Ouafa, the minister delegate in charge of general affairs and governance, said December 16th in Rabat.
The proposal would create a nation of people on benefits when the government ought instead to be helping this segment of society become economically active, he told the press.

Nothing had been decided, he said. The government was still thinking about the issue as part of the process of reforming the Subsidisation Fund, he added.
The fund's budget was reduced heavily in 2014 and 2015 due to the removal of subsidies on petroleum products, which stirred up controversy. The only petroleum product that is still subsidised is butane gas, and there are no plans to abolish this subsidy in the immediate future, the minister said.
El Ouafa explained that the government was considering various ways of making sure that the subsidy on this product would only benefit the poor. At the moment, barely 38% of the gas subsidy goes to households, while economic sectors such as agriculture and hotel services take the lion's share.

The government must reassure the public about the future of the Subsidisation Fund because so far, it has not given any clear or detailed pledges, sociologist Basma Mourtadi told Magharebia. "The decisions to remove subsidies on petroleum products caught the public off guard," she said. "People are now worried about what will happen to the prices of petrol and diesel," she said.

In this regard, El Ouafa underlined that if the prices of petroleum products rise, the government could always resort to index-linking through the Subsidisation Fund.

The public is sceptical.

Karim Omari, an employee, said that the subsidy reform that was implemented last year showed that the government lacked a clear strategy.
"What the government says is no longer credible. Although ministers said in 2013 that the subsidies on petroleum products would not be withdrawn, this opinion changed within a few months. Now they are saying that butane gas will still be subsidised, but this cannot last because the government is seeking a way of changing this situation. There are fears for the spending power of both the poor and the middle class," he said.

Fatima Choukri, a teacher, said that the government needed to keep its promises with regard to direct financial support for the poor.
"The middle class could accept an increase in the prices of some items if it knew that direct aid will be given to the poor in exchange. People also need to be supported through measures such as income tax allowances to help them cover the cost of sending their children to school, or help towards the cost of housing," she argued.

Mentally Challenged in Morocco: We want our rights, not charity.
Wednesday 24 December 2014 - Amjad HemidachFez

The mental illness advocacy association UNAHM organized a sit-in in front of parliament in Rabat to ask for an urgent intervention from the authorities to guarantee rights for the mentally challenged that follow universal United Nations conventions. UNAHM was formed two years ago to defend and improve the rights of mentally ill persons, aiming at decreasing their hardships in Morocco.

Approximately one thousand people, including different national associations, supported the sit-in’s participants. They called for the betterment of 347,000 people with mental disabilities. “I do not want charity or compassion, I want my rights,” said a sign held by a child with Down syndrome in the crowd.

The participant called for urgent practical and viable solutions to the problems that mentally ill children suffer. At a weeklong conference held in Casablanca, UNAHM insisted on the need to put the issue of mental disability among “national priorities.” UNAHM had already urged the government to devote a special budget to educate mentally challenged children and increase the number of beneficiaries from special services. It also called for an action plan and a strategy consistent with the Constitution and United Nations conventions.

Germany provides additional $800 million loan for Moroccan solar park.
23. December 2014  By: Edgar Meza

The German federal government is providing additional backing for the construction of one of the world's largest solar power complexes, which will have a total capacity of 560 MW when completed. The support is part of Germany's efforts to push for international climate protection and the development of renewable energy in North Africa.

The German government has provided a €654 million ($800 million) loan for two concentrated solar power (CSP) parks under construction in Morocco’s Ouarzazate region that will have a combined capacity of 350 MW. Other funding partners include the Agence Française de Développement (AFD), the African Development Bank (AfDB), the European Investment Bank (EIB), the European Union and the World Bank. The newly signed loan agreements for the second and third power plant solar complex — Noor II and III — comprise a total of €1.4 billion.

The state-run Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW) development bank is making the credit available on behalf of the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB) and the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), which are supporting the Noor projects. The complex will employ three different technologies: parabolic trough, solar tower and photovoltaics. Three of the plants will have salt storage that will even allow power supply at night.

"With the realization of the power plant complex, a low-carbon and climate-friendly future technology will help Morocco’s breakthrough while simultaneously reducing the country's high dependence on energy imports,” said KfW Group executive board member Norbert Kloppenburg, “The achievement of these ambitious energy plans has made the country a pioneer in the region. By 2020, 42% of generation capacity is to be based on renewable energy. The Moroccan solar plan aims to build by 2020 solar power plants with a total capacity of 2,000 MW,” Kloppenburg added, praising the Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy (MASEN) for making the country’s ambitious plan a reality.

The first power plant -- Noor I -- with a capacity of 160 MW will be connected to the grid in October 2015 while the start of construction for Noor II and III is expected in April. The Ouarzazate complex will have a total capacity of 560 MW when completed, making it the largest solar facility currently under construction. The project is budgeted at a total of some €2.2 billion. As the largest financier on the project, the KfW is financing some €829 million, or nearly 40%. The power plant complex will generate electricity for around 1.3 million people and avoid some 800,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually.

Read more:
Widows Close to Get Direct Support.
Wednesday 24 December 2014 Rabat Reporting by Aziz Allilou

After months of delay, decree No. 2-14-791, which determines the conditions and criteria upon which widows in difficult situations can receive benefits from government’s direct social aid, has finally been published in the Official Bulletin of Morocco. This comes a few weeks after the government Council approved the decree that provides for direct support for widows, fixed at MAD 350 per month for each child.

According to the official website of the Public and Justice party, a ministerial committee was formed to review and decide on the amount and methods of distribution for these allocations. It is worth mentioning that the Minister of the Economy and Finance prepared this project, which aims at benefiting orphaned children, and it would provide social funds fixed at MAD 350 per month for each orphan under 21 years.

Tamellalte: Sinking to its Knees Twofold
Saturday 27 December 2014 By Ismail Frouini Fez

The Moroccan government’s lack of attention to its citizens facing great hardship for more than a week is pitiful. Morocco’s southeastern region (Ouarzazate, Tinghir, and Zagora) is facing substantial trauma, and its people, houses and plantations have been devastated, while the region was flooded.“There hasn’t been a time when we’ve been completely cut off from other parts of the country,” a man from Tamellalte tells me. People’s belongings and possessions were dispersed throughout the area after heavy rain and floods recently incapacitated several southern Moroccan towns.

In Tamellalte, a vilage located 60 kilometers northeast of Zagora, the current situation is unbearably dismal. People from inside and outside the area have appealed for government assistance. Tamellalte is generally prepared when the Draa Valley is flooded, due to the tribe’s low elevation and seasonal weather patterns. Dwellers have come to expect these events. What they did not expect is the continuous negligence and delinquency from Moroccan authorities to address the issue of their remoteness.

Many people in Tamellalte are in desperate need of help in terms of shelter, food, and other basic living amenities. Imagine students, schoolteachers, and traders unable to attend their institutions in the village on the other bank of the river because of floods. Imagine people unable to access basic food items in their local market. Imagine the entire infrastructure in Tamellalte either destroyed or inaccessible, with its dwellers effectively cut off from the rest of the region due to destroyed roads.

I have already made an account of a similar incident in a previous article, “Tamellalte, the Forgotten Town.” Now, the same situation is playing out across the greater southeast, and in Tamellalte in particular. These floods are, in fact, an additional challenge to Tamellalte, alongside an ongoing tribal conflict between the people of Tamellalte and their neighbouring tribe on the opposite side of the river, Tamezmoute. Short skirmishes have broken out all along and over the bridge and road construction, to which Tamezmoute never consented.

As far as back as I can remember, 2004 saw the most traumatic event of the long history of tension between Tamellalte and Tamezmoute, with both tribes constantly fighting over the bridge. As an onlooker, I was overwhelmed to see the tribes warring and fighting with one another. It was around 5:00 pm February 4th when men, women, and children all joined in on the fight. The news spread, and dominated the entire region. It’s shameful that people in the 21stcentury still get worked up over the pettiest of subjects, such as a bridge or tarred road. It shows how ignorance perpetuates society. Both Tamellalte and Tamezmoute are subjects to their ignorance, alas!!!

Efforts have been made to heal the rift, yet it is ordinary to find the two constantly in conflict, rarely reaching common ground. Tamellalte always sues for peace, because they always anticipate catastrophic events. However, such a flood is never anticipated. The onus, accordingly, falls on the local authorities to intervene and maintain the status quo and to end such skirmishes. This accentuates the authorities’ neglect and both tribes’ remoteness.

Recently, the significance of this negligence has come into sharp focus. Many people question the possibility of dialogue between the belligerents. Still, it’s difficult to gauge where the blame lies. First and foremost, as inhabitants of the area, we must be aware of the problems that should be overcome by moving from a framework of personal and tribal interests to looking at what we have in common as a neglected, ostracised, and remote part of Morocco.

I believe that it is high time to build our lives together on solid foundations of mutual love, peace, and knowledge, rather than the sands of ignorance. I painfully stress that both tribes align themselves together for the sake of future generations. Still, regrettably, the strong beliefs of antagonism, hatred, and enmity are instilled in every member of both tribes. The tribes’ adults, both educated and uneducated, have arrogantly declined to discuss the matter. Whenever tribe members pass by youth gangs from the opposite tribe, they receive bitter and relentless insults. I have always wondered why authorities condone harassment like this?

It is a depressing fact that both tribes are not yet ready for dialogue because of their disdain, arrogance, denial, and dogmatic tribal interests. I have no doubt that our society, our future, and our very existence are better than this. Sooner or later, the tragedy of flood will come to an end. We urgently need a concrete bridge to open Tamellalte to the rest of the region. It is something we have fought for, imprisoned for, and killed for. It is common knowledge that Tamellalte runs in our blood. In the same vein, we live by it, or we die by it.
Edited by Jaclyn Deen

Morocco's young entrepreneurs face barriers.
Al Jazeera - Morocco's young entrepreneurs face barriers

Ali Aaouine had no job but one big dream; to start a rental car company in this town near the historic city of Fez. In 2011, the 30-year-old joined a US-supported government programme called Moukawalati or "My Small Business". This initiative was designed to help young Moroccans write business plans and get low interest loans.

Despite completing the programme and receiving a certificate, Aaouine couldn't get a loan because of a lack of credit and assets. His project failed. "They said they would supply loans, but they are just selling dreams to young people," says Aaouine, who now works at a local association that helps young entrepreneurs.

Throughout much of the Arab world, the rate of unemployed young people remains high, according to the World Bank. Morocco, where one in three young adults is unemployed, is no exception. In this North African kingdom, which escaped the Arab Spring revolutions and is one the US' staunchest allies in the so-called war against terror, there's rising concern about the recruitment of young unemployed Moroccans into organisations like the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), which may provide a sense of purpose and even a regular stipend.

Every week in the capital Rabat, hundreds of young Moroccans stage protests demanding government jobs. Late last month in Marrakesh, at the first-in-Africa Global Entrepreneurship Summit, US Vice President Joseph Biden announced; "The opportunities for entrepreneurship have never been greater."
"There's much more to do, more young people to invest in, more to remove excessively cumbersome bureaucracies, more to embrace private enterprise," he added.

In an effort to promote stability and combat youth unemployment, the US has injected $10m into Moukawalati to help young Moroccans start businesses.
Critics say the programme has fallen flat and the Obama administration's emphasis on entrepreneurship to promote economic growth and stability is not an immediate fix in a country like Morocco. Indeed, while the initial goal was 30,000 new businesses, Moukawalati sustained fewer than 4,000 enterprises nationwide. "All they give you is a certificate, and then you must depend on yourself to get a loan," says Aaouine.

Moroccan Minister of Communications Mustapha el-Khalfi blames Moroccan banks for their reluctance to loan young people money. "There are many handicaps," he said in an interview at the summit. "That's why the programme didn't work." Khalfi said one of the biggest problems in Morocco is a lack of a culture of entrepreneurship. For example, the education system focuses on rote learning rather than creativity.

Further, Moroccans resist taking financial risks for fear of failure, according to a recent World Bank report. In that report, 70 percent of young, would-be entrepreneurs named financial risk as the second largest barrier to starting their own businesses, right behind access to capital.

For many web-savvy Americans, crowd funding is another popular way to finance a start-up. It's gaining ground in Morocco, but still a relatively new concept.
Last year, Lamiaa Bounahmidi, 29, founded LOOLY's. The company aims to sell Moroccan-produced couscous to consumers worldwide. Bounahmidi was one of the first Moroccans to attempt raising funds through "Kickstarter" to finance product development and a road show in the US, England and Canada.
However, she only achieved a fifth of her goal, and 60 percent of that came from Americans. "We had incredible support from all over the Arab region, but they didn't pledge," Bounahmidi said, attributing the low number of donations to a misunderstanding of crowd funding and low e-payment capabilities.

Circumventing bank loans altogether helped her get the business off the ground. She found initial financial support by entering, and winning, various international start-up competitions and has relied heavily on US-based incubators. When starting out four years ago, she says, Morocco had "nothing".
Since then, organisations such as Centre for Entrepreneurship, Entrepreneurship Education and Development Morocco, and Injaz al-Maghrib, all supported by $1.6m from USAID have gained more traction, offering regular pitch competitions and empowerment conferences within Morocco.
However, not every young entrepreneur has access to these events, which mostly take place in cities.

Abderrahmane Bouhoute, 26, recently started a wedding planning company in his small town outside of Meknes. He rents the traditional dresses, caters the meals, provides the DJ and supplies the tent, which during wintertime is tied onto his parents' roof. However, as a college graduate who studied English literature, he didn't have the training to start a company. "It was difficult because I am not a businessman," Bouhoute said.

Many believe that a lack of training, combined with a gap between what university students are taught and the skills companies need, are also handicaps for young entrepreneurs. To address this, Aaouine, who never got his rental-car company off the ground, now runs Greenside Development, a US-funded organisation that gives in-depth business plan mentoring, funding and monthly follow-ups to young aspiring entrepreneurs - providing the support Aaouine feels he never received.

The organisation has helped launch 70 micro-enterprises since its start in 2011.

Morocco and the US, along with the governments of Algeria, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, have committed over $31m over the next five years to the Stevens Initiative, a project named in honour of the late US ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, who was killed in 2012 when fighters attacked the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya. The programme's pilot, aimed at promoting businesses, will launch in Morocco in 2015.

Additionally, the Millennium Challenge Corporation, a US-funded foreign aid agency, plans to finance at least $50m in "public-private partnership to provide vocational and technical training to equip young Moroccans with the skills they need to compete globally".

Experts say entrepreneurship is not a cure-all for stabilising disenfranchised generations across many Arab countries. "There's no silver bullet," says Jean Arlet, a World Bank analyst and coauthor of "Doing Business 2015." "There are often a lot of things to do when tackling unemployment." Arlet says there needs to be an emphasis on building a smart regulatory framework before new businesses can thrive. For example, according to his report, Morocco does poorly with financial legal rights and collateral security - crucial for young start-ups with intangible assets.

While it's clear entrepreneurship has challenges in Morocco, it's clearly the government's chosen catalyst for shifting dreams away from civil sector jobs. "If you look in cafes, they are full of unemployed youth just sitting around," says Bouhoute, owner of the wedding planning company. "The government cannot possibly provide jobs for all of them."
Hannah Norman spent several months in Morocco on an SIT Study Abroad program and produced this story in association with Round Earth Media, a nonprofit organization that mentors the next generation of international journalists. Najwa Aboufikr contributed reporting.

Morocco and South-South Unity.
By Dr. Yossef Ben-Meir

The reign of King Mohammed VI of Morocco is in the process of being framed by a number of progressive and productive pillars.  Among these is one stand-out initiative focusing on building South-South cooperation between Morocco and its neighbors within Africa. Certainly, the South-South movement has been gaining transformative momentum since the 1980s as developing nations began to respond to exploitative dependency relationships that had been forged previously with developed countries.

South-South regional blocs, well managed and for the benefit of the many, can enable the people of nations to have the benefit of open markets without the severe social dislocation that often results.  With its increased market size, economies of scale develop which, with increased efficiency, result in a reduction in prices.  The new competition helps to break up monopolies, also putting downward pressure on prices.  Further, the experience of South-South blocs - including the catalyzing of domestic regulatory reforms and standards - may also be considered a transitional phase to global competitiveness.

Global free traders who would see this form of regionalism both as diverting resources away from multilateralism and as protectionist, should know that in fact South-South unity manifests itself as outward-looking.  Regionalists are very often willing to eliminate trade barriers in a phased process that incorporates, for example, the lessons learned from the economic fallout in rural Mexico under NAFTA.

Mexico’s harsh experience certainly informed Morocco’s 2004 free trade agreement with the United States.  As a result, Morocco is opening up agricultural products in later stages in order to give more time to promote human development with farming families.

There is an unfortunate irony in that Morocco’s king, who is intellectually and emotionally a backer of regionalism - and specifically of the Maghreb Union of North African nations which is the subject of his 1993 doctoral thesis - should have this aspiration rendered unrealizable because of the four-decade-long conflict surrounding the Sahara, the region which to Morocco is as sacred as the very concept of sovereignty.

Meanwhile existential matters are left by the wayside.  Shared regional challenges involving migration, the environment and security remain unresolved and opportunities for green agricultural growth that could transform societies through reinvestment in communities and other major human development initiatives are not realized.

Morocco’s proposal to the United Nations Security Council for a resolution, involving an autonomous Sahara within Moroccan sovereignty, offers a highly flexible framework, one which it is barely conceivable that Morocco can surpass. The continuation of this conflict may be a classic example of the inability to separate positions from interests.

As a result of the proposal from the Moroccan side, the onus is placed on the Polisario to describe how they envisage an organizational arrangement for governance that promotes the prosperity of the people and assess whether such an arrangement could be accommodated by the ‘autonomy within sovereignty’ framework.  They may conclude, after thorough analysis, that Morocco’s proposal enables a governance system that could meet their and the people’s economic, political, cultural and environmental interests.

In any case, Morocco’s proposal for peace encapsulates three concepts, whose employment could help unify southern nations and enable them to realize their human needs.

Decentralization of decision-making and management from the central level to provincial, municipal and community levels is one of the most powerful forms of conflict resolution.  For example, it is likely key to salvaging Iraq’s future as a nation state; historically, it was the linchpin enabling the founding of the United States.  The Ukraine is banking its future governance system on decentralization and arguably its use is on the rise in all hemispheres. 

National governance that supports local people’s decision-making on their development future plays a dual role as a preventative measure of conflict. 

Finally, promoting community empowerment is a national unifying force as people are encouraged to pursue and achieve their self-determined interests. 

Morocco, like all nations, struggles with the implementation of its ideals.  What the Kingdom undeniably has achieved is the consistent adoption of a stance that promotes sustainable development driven by the participatory democratic method, decentralization and South-South partnerships (while embracing global relations). 

The lesson gained from the Moroccan experience, then, is that enabling South-South unity requires three things: a head of state who is positively outspoken and action-oriented in this regard; the adoption of decentralization, both as an arrangement for conflict resolution and to promote development, and the ability of people to associate in freedom. 

There are no further preconditions necessary to promote self-reliant regional blocs, nations and communities; with these in place, new, non-dependent relationships will be formed, the means of self-reliance helping to achieve its ends.
Dr. Yossef Ben-Meir is president of the High Atlas Foundation.
Tel. US +001 505 288 1021 Tel: Morocco +212 (0)5 24 42 08 21

Zucchini exports down 70%.

According to sources from the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Rural Development of the Junta de Andalucía, Moroccan zucchini exports to the European Union declined by 70% in week 50, from December 8 to 14, over the same period last year. In that week, Morocco exported a total of 898,000 kilos of zucchini, 30 per cent more than in the previous week, to the Community territory. The Moroccan zucchini plantations have been severely affected by floods in recent days.

In week 50, Morocco sold its zucchini in the EU for an average price of 0.67 Euro per kilo. The volume of zucchini marketed under quota up until December 14 amounted to 14 percent of the total available, which is slightly less than the 20 percent consumed in the 2013/14 campaign.

In week 50, Moroccan tomato exports to the EU amounted to 3.6 million kilos, with a price of 0.83 Euro per kilo. For the first time this season, in week 50, the average price of tomatoes exported to the EU approached the average price for the same period in the 2013/14 season (0.81 € / kg). The volume of Moroccan tomatoes exported to the EU is 60 percent lower than the previous week and than the same date of last season. Consumption in the first half of December amounted to 30 percent of the monthly quota available. Morocco has a quota of 42,150 tons of tomato for December and an additional quota of 28,000 tons between October and May.

Morocco's workplace gender gap widens.
Author Yassine December 21, 2014

Working women in Morocco have a hard life. In its second report on gender equality in the workplace, the Economic, Social and Environmental Council (ESEC) described the employment situation of Moroccan women as alarming. In its 2012 report, ESEC made clear recommendations to the government to fight discrimination against women. In the new report, released on Nov. 27, 2014, ESEC focuses on the realities of female employment and the "ineffective" laws working against women. For the second time, ESEC has made recommendations to the government. Telquel runs through it, in figures.

Less than one in four women are employed
2.74: In millions, the total number of employed women. Of those who work, 1.03 million are employed in urban areas and 1.71 million work in rural areas.
22.7%: The female employment rate in Morocco (ratio between the number of people employed and the total number of individuals), which means that less than one in four women has a job.
26.8%: The percentage of women in a labor force of 11.3 million people.
30%: The female employment rate exceeds 30% in agricultural areas, such as Doukkala, Souss-Massa-Draa and Gharb.
130 out of 142 countries: Morocco’s rank worldwide, in terms of the wage gap between men and women. The kingdom is toward the low end of the ranking, below other Arab countries such as Qatar, Kuwait and Tunisia.

Women: Victims of illegal practices
73.2%: The percentage of rural women under the age of 15 who are employed. ESEC considered this type of employment to be a "form of outright exploitation of children of school age, which must be denounced." Moreover, underage labor is a violation of children's rights, as it denies “girls the right to access to education and training.”
78.9%: The percentage of women working in the textile sector who have not been eligible for paid maternity leave.
87.5%: The percentage of women working without a written contract in rural areas. This figure drops to 54.2% in urban areas. Such women are "working without a written contract and therefore they are not covered by the labor law.” It should also be noted that text regulating employment and working conditions of domestic workers has not been adopted yet.

Women: Excluded from decision-making posts
0.1%: The percentage of women holding decision-making positions in private companies in the trade, industry and services fields.
0.38%: The percentage of female union representatives.
6%: The percentage of women occupying the post of "secretary general" in public services, and 11% of women are directors.
7%: The percentage of women administrators in the country’s largest public companies. Women represent 11% of directors in listed companies.
12%: The percentage of management posts occupied by women.
50%: Women are absent from governance bodies in more than half of listed companies in Morocco.

ESEC recommendations
To counteract the problems that hinder gender equality in the workplace, the ESEC report included four recommendations to the government.

The council suggests that the government "acquire efficient instruments and consistent indicators … that allow an understanding of the effectiveness of gender equality in the economic sector as a tool for reducing inequality." This is a measure that falls in line with the "definition of indicators produced by the various agencies (in particular the Higher Planning Commission), and the Convention on the Rights of the Child and ILO [International Labour Organization] standards.”
This means that, among other things, Morocco should adopt a law enshrining 15 as the minimum age for employment. The recommendations call for the category of "housewife," which normalizes the sexist representation of women, to be replaced by the following two categories: "Adult persons running a household " and "school children." The council, headed by Nizar Baraka, recommends the establishment of a national employment observatory that issues regular reports on women’s participation in economic activities and the discrimination they face.

ESEC also recommends the establishment of a "favorable environment for economic equality between women and men and a balance between work and family responsibilities.” The measure would involve ratifying the ILO Workers with Family Responsibilities Convention and implementing it in accordance with the Family Code that establishes the joint responsibility of both parents within a family. The council also suggests the establishment of "information, training and awareness campaigns [focusing] on the prevention of discrimination in administrations and businesses."

The council also mentions facilitating access to employment for women. The measures accompanying this suggestion include the adoption of "incentives and granting the right … to tax benefits for private companies that establish [gender] parity in their various bodies." To promote female access to employment, ESEC also calls for the promotion of a "skills training and for girls to access all courses offered in the male-dominated industries.”

Finally, Baraka’s organization urges the promotion and support of women's entrepreneurship through the development of support mechanisms for female entrepreneurs in different parts of the kingdom. ESEC also recommends that the government encourage "the access of women's enterprises to tenders in public and private sectors, to ensure male and female businesses equal access to markets."
Read more:

Feed your team for £10 a week while becoming a surfing yogi. British entrepreneur Jonny Miller explains why upping sticks and moving to sunny Taghazout was the best move for his start-up.
By Jonny Miller, co-founder of Maptia 16 Dec 2014

Leaving university life and the quaint cobbled streets of Durham behind, I have been on a trans-continental quest to build my new start-up. 1,000 days, four continents, and many (mis)adventures later, my co-founders Dean Fischer, Dorothy Sanders and I have now launched a growing global storytelling platform, where photographers and writers share remarkable stories from all over the planet, stories aimed at inspiring us to make the most of our time on Earth, and to appreciate the diverse cultures and environments around us.

This is the story of our 10-month relocation from the buzzing startup hub of Seattle to Taghazout – a small village on the coast of Morocco, where surfers and fishermen rub shoulders with nomadic entrepreneurs – and why, in retrospect, it turned out to be one of the best decisions we ever made.

In 2013, the year was drawing to a close and we had just completed one of the most intensive and demanding periods of our startup adventure so far, a 12-week stint in Seattle at Techstars – one of the top US accelerator programs. In just a few short months we had learned more than we had ever thought possible from their amazing team of mentors, but our temporary US visas were about to expire, and we wanted to use the modest amount of our Techstars investment in the most efficient way possible.

Having grown up in the UK, relocating to London might have seemed like an obvious next step, but the high rent and living costs ruled it out. Instead we spun the globe and found a basic but good value apartment only ten metres from the Atlantic Ocean in the small Moroccan fishing village of Taghazout. At that point, all we really needed was a relatively fast internet connection and a place where we could be 100pc focused on building and launching the first version of Maptia.
Situated just 12 miles north of the city of Agadir and a four-hour Ryanair flight away from London, our costs for rent and office space in Taghazout were a fraction of what they would have been in any major European city.

We also found plenty of other ways to be creative and stretch our budget even further… Our office chairs and desks were haggled from a nearby scrap yard and duly given a lick of paint, and every Wednesday we took a big backpack to the aptly named ‘Banana Village’ and filled it with fresh fruit and veg from the local market. This kept the food bill for our team down to less than £10 per person per week.

Some of the spoils from our latest fruit shop
Like many young startup founders, we have a tendency to burn the candle at both ends, but despite still working long hours almost every day, Taghazout also surrounded us with ways to keep our perspective – from hiking, to rooftop yoga, to surfing. Stepping outside of the opinionated, fast-paced, and often intense start-up ecosystem, turned out to be a crucially important step for our team.

Being in Taghazout enabled us to gain perspective and clarity on our long-term roadmap and our vision for Maptia’s future. We had spent over a year working hard on our design, development and marketing skills, listening to every possible piece of advice we could soak up, and talking to photographers, writers, and travellers about how we could make Maptia most valuable to them. It was time to gain a degree of isolation, get our heads down, stop trying to follow too many differing pieces of advice, and trust our own instincts and vision to take us the next step of the way.

Fortunately, it turned out that Taghazout was the perfect place for us to do this. We found that our time in the otherwise sleepy Moroccan village enabled us to home in on defining our mission – the "why" and the purpose behind our start-up – and also gave us the singular focus we needed to build a solid first version of the Maptia platform.

Our quest to build Maptia has now taken us from Santiago in Chile, to Seattle, to Taghazout, and this past year to the mountains of Switzerland.
Later in 2015, another adventure is on the cards for the Maptia team, as we are planning on relocating to south east Asia. First, we’ve planned a six-month stint (finally) getting to know the fantastic local start-up communities based close to where we grew up in Bristol and in London.

So if you’re taken with the idea of relocating your team to Taghazout, and escaping the cold, wet British winter, here are a few short pieces of advice to bear in mind before hopping on the next flight.

Some planning is essential but be sure to stay flexible. You can book an apartment online, but to save on costs we recommend sending a scout out a week or two in advance to haggle for a suitable apartment with a fast enough Internet connection.

To test the waters, you can stay at one of the local surf camps, or check out The Blue House, a shared place for start-up teams to live and work opening in 2015. There is also a beachfront co-working space – Sun Desk – that has just opened its doors.

In terms of timing, the summers in Taghazout get pretty toasty, well over 40ºC on some days, and it’s generally much more pleasant from September to May.
Local languages are Arabic, French and Berbere, and while it’s certainly possible to get by without these as most landlords will speak some English, you’ll probably have to rely on sign language at the local market, so having a smattering of French will help.

At the end of the day, remember that life in a small Moroccan village isn’t for everyone, so be sure that your team can cope with a certain amount of chaos and is ready to embrace another culture and way of life.

If you think the odd power outage, runaway goats, or distracting construction noise might prove stressful, then perhaps your team isn’t as suited to a long-term relocation.

However, if everyone is up for an adventure, and your company would benefit from a few months of focused work, then relocating to Taghazout might just be one of the best decisions you could make.
To get in touch with the Maptia team, tweet them @Maptia or drop them an email at – they would love to hear from you.

These postings are provided without permission of the copyright owner for purposes of criticism, comment, scholarship, and research under the "Fair Use" provisions of U.S. Government copyright laws and it may not be distributed further without permission of the identified copyright owner.  The poster does not vouch for the accuracy of the content of the message, which is the sole responsibility of the copyright holder.

Return to Friends of Morocco Home Page

About Membership Volunteer Newsletters Souk Links