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Casablanca hopes to build the gateway to markets across Africa – Financial Times

Casablanca’s Anfa Airport is an unlikely symbol of Morocco’s ambitions in Africa. Once synonymous with the early glamour of air travel, its disused terminal now presides over scrubland. But hidden beneath the former taxiways are newly installed fibre optic cables and the infrastructure needed for a finance hub that policymakers say will be an emblem of the country’s push south.

Morocco traditionally looked to Europe for business and trade, but the financial crisis and weak European growth hit the country hard and helped propel its companies and policymakers towards higher growth further south.

“We are close to Europe and yet we are in Africa. We have a good financial sector, good technology, an airline that links us to African cities. There are many reasons for us to expand into Africa,” says Nadia Fettah Aloui, managing director at Moroccan insurer Saham Finance.

Several Moroccan corporations already have a solid presence in Africa. Royal Air Maroc, the national carrier, has the most extensive airline network on the continent and flies to 32 cities in 26 African countries from its Casablanca hub.

Maroc Telecom bought its first sub-Saharan African subsidiary in Mauritania in 2001, and now has nearly 51m subscribers and six African subsidiaries.

Phosphates giant Office Chérifien des Phosphates Group (OCP) has also expanded south and is targeting under-served African fertiliser markets, partly through a hub at Jorf Lasfar port, south of Casablanca.

Saham began its expansion into Africa in 2010 and now has businesses in 23 African countries. “Most of our businesses have double-digit growth, although the mature ones are growing at around 5-6 per cent a year,” says Ms Fettah Aloui. The company plans to triple its revenue in five years.

It is a potentially fertile market for Morocco: Read More

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