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The Moroccan construction industry is estimated to have experienced real growth of around 7.4% in 2011, with the sector recovering from the period of relatively subdued growth seen in 2009 and 2010. Underpinned by a healthy pipeline of infrastructure projects, multilateral financing and a robust economic growth outlook, we expect the sector to continue on this strong growth trajectory over the medium- to-long-term. We have pencilled in real growth of 7.0% year-on-year (y-o-y) for Morocco’s construction industry in 2013 and we expect real industry growth to average at 7.4% per annum between 2013 and 2020.
The infrastructure developments which underpin our outlook for the sector over the forecast period are:
- Morocco’s expenditure on infrastructure will help underpin average real GDP growth of 3.9 %per year in the period 2011-2016, according to BMI’s forecasts. The government stepped up its spending on basic infrastructure to MAD400bn (US$47.26bn) for 2008-2012, up from just MAD80bn (US$9.45bn) for the previous period. Roads, ports, airports and transmission grids have been among the assets to benefit from the stronger spending, providing a windfall for established firms.
- In November 2011, the World Bank agreed to provide US$297mn in financial assistance to Morocco for the development of one of the world’s largest solar power plants. The loan will support the first phase of the solar power plant, which is due to have a capacity of 500MW. The Ouarzazate concentrated solar power plant is part of the country’s solar power programme, worth US$9bn, and holds significant importance for Morocco. Of the total loan amount, US$200mn will be provided through its fund that lends to middle-income countries, while the remaining US$97mn will be granted under the World Bank Clean Technology Fund.
- As part of the fund reports it was announced in September 2012 that the African Development Bank (AfDB) will provide a US$800mn loan to the Moroccan government. The loan will be used to finance the development of the country’s renewable energy sector. This will include the construction of a solar power plant at Ouarzazate, which will eventually generate 500MW of electricity. Termed as the largest CSP in the world, it is to include an investment of EUR1.04bn (US$1.3bn), which will also be funded by six other agencies, including the World Bank and the European Investment Bank. In addition, the amount provided by AfDB will also be used to increase the country’s wind power capacity by 1,070MW and help to provide electricity for 79,436 homes. This will be undertaken as part of the Moroccan Integrated Wind/Hydro and Rural Electrification Programme. The project requires a total investment of US$2.16bn, with completion due for 2017. Morocco intends to generate 42.0% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020.
- Also, on September 24 2012, the consortium led by ACWA Power International received a contract worth nearly US$1bn to construct a solar power plant in Morocco. The consortium also includes Aries Ingeniería y Sistemas and TSK Electrónicay Electricidad. The announcement was made by Mustapha Bakkoury, the head of Morocco’s solar energy agency MASEN. The plant will cover an area of 2,500 hectares and will be located near the desert frontier town of Ouarzazate. Construction work is due to begin at end-2012, with commercial operations to begin in H215. The plant will have a power generation capacity of 160MW and will use concentrating solar power (CSP) parabolic trough technology. The World Bank, the African Development Bank, the European Investment Bank, KfW and the French Development Agency are to provide financial support for the project.
- German engineering company Siemens announced that it was holding talks with potential buyers to sell its solar energy business. The company is looking to divest its photovoltaics unit and solar thermal power plant maker Solel. Siemens had acquired Solel in 2009 for US$418mn, but the unit has consistently failed to generate profits. During the same announcement, Siemens said that it will focus its renewable energy activities on wind and hydro power after the divestment. As part of its withdrawal from the solar power sector, Siemens also withdrew from Morocco’s DII project in October 2012.
- In May 2011, Moroccan state power company Office National de l’Electricité (ONE) invited wind turbine companies to submit expressions of interest in building and operating a 150MW wind farm 300km north-east of Rabat. Morocco – the only North African country without significant thermal indigenous resources – has launched a renewable energy drive focusing on wind and solar energy in order to reduce its reliance on costly imports and meet rising demand.
- In an effort to turn around its near-total reliance on energy imports, Morocco aims to generate as much as two gigawatts (GW) from wind power and 2GW from solar power by 2020, according to Energy, Mines and Water Minister Amina Benkhadra. The country expects to spend EUR13.4bn (US$17.2bn) on the sector and will concentrate on renewable energy production, according to Electricite et des Energies Renouvelables, as quoted by La Figaro in May 2010.
- In a move that signifies creditor belief in both the company, and the project, Abu Dhabi’s TAQA announced in June 2012 that it has secured a US$1.4bn financing arrangement for the expansion of its Jorf Lasfar coal-fired power plant in Morocco. BMI believes that TAQA’s continued interest in the MENA region is highlighting a trend where regional players seek to take advantage of their established ties to venture in places that other investors might fear. TAQA is strategically positioned to take advantage of such a move, yet we note that the company remains heavily leveraged and thus much dependent on its benevolent state benefactor.
- It was announced in March 2011 that the African Development Bank (AfDB) is providing a EUR300mn loan to Morocco to support the investment plans put forward by the country’s rail operator. Morocco’s national rail company Office National des Chemins de Fer (ONCF) is investing heavily in Morocco’s transport infrastructure, with a US$13bn investment plan running to 2035. Plans include the construction of almost 2,000km of major rail lines linking the country’s largest cities, in addition to urban rail and high-speed lines.
- Encouraged by earlier flagship public-private partnership (PPP) projects, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) signed an agreement with the Ministry of Economy and Finance in early-December 2010 to help it structure a dedicated PPP unit. The IFC has been spending considerable resources in Morocco to help wean its construction and infrastructure industries off public sector demand and ramp up private sector participation. Both parties hope that the new unit will successfully institutionalise previously ad hoc PPP projects such as irrigation and desalination projects in the Chtouka region.
- The government of Saudi Arabia is scheduled to make an investment worth US$1.25bn through the Saudi Fund for Development in order to support several development projects in Morocco. Saudi Arabia’s Finance Minister Ibrahim Al-Assaf said in October 2012 that the investment would be made in the areas of health, education, transport, communication, hotels and agriculture. The investment is part of a financial assistance package extended to Morocco and Jordan by four GCC countries, with Morocco set to receive a total of US$5bn. The Saudi private sector is currently making investments in the tourism, agriculture and ports industry in Morocco, which is seen as the best investment destination in the Arab world.
- Vision 2010 project, established by King Mohammed VI, was an effort of the Moroccan government to develop the country’s tourism. The project has been reintroduced as Vision 2020; as part of the programme, two major development plans have been outlined which will create new commercial infrastructure opportunities in terms of resorts and hotels and which will encourage investment and the financing of new sustainable projects. These are the Azure 2020 and the Plan Bidali.