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If we take a compass and we draw a semi-circle, the region of Rabat-Salé-Kenitra is almost in the middle of the most dynamic areas of the Moroccan territory. Finally, in 2011, His Majesty King Mohammed VI announced an amendment to the Moroccan Constitution to introduce the “project of advanced Moroccan regionalization.
“If we take a compass and we draw a semi-circle, the region of Rabat-Salé-Kenitra is almost in the middle of the most dynamic areas of the Moroccan territory”.
President of the Rabat-Salé-Kénitra region council as well as of the United Regions Organization / Global Forum of Regional Associations (ORU / FOGAR), Abdessamad Sekkal presents us and clarifies the Moroccan model of regionalisation but also its assets in economic, environmental and international development terms.
Morocco has a very old tradition of decentralisation. In the Moroccan political system as it was constructed, local representatives of power had broad prerogatives. Admittedly, we lived a colonial period with notably a strong recentralisation but which was accompanied by the construction of a modern administration. Since the 1970s, there has been very strong action by the State towards decentralisation and especially a movement of regionalisation. And so were created 16 administrative and later political regions with elected councilors but indirectly. Finally, in 2011, His Majesty King Mohammed VI announced an amendment to the Moroccan Constitution to introduce the “project of advanced Moroccan regionalisation.” However, we had to wait until 2015 and the promulgation of the organic law for the new system to be put in place and for the first time to hold regional elections by direct universal suffrage, with a significant renewal of better trained and more political advisers also! In this year 2017 and early 2018, changes should take place, especially as we have gone from 16 to 12 regions. An ambitious but complex reform is being implemented, with the drafting of a new charter with the State. But we are still on the road to “advanced regionalisation” and rethinking the role of the state, and it is a major challenge! We have a “highway” ahead of us to move forward.
In constitutional terms, the change has been very profound because the principles of subsidiarity between local authorities and free administration are now enshrined. This has had a direct impact on the regions, especially in financial terms, where we now have real financial autonomy. These institutional changes have resulted in the exercise of transferred competences (without State funds …) between three levels of communities: communes, departments, with prefectural and provincial councils, and regions. There are areas of intervention in terms of public policies where the three levels can intervene. However, the municipalities work on all that is services of proximity to the citizen: the administrative services and the public services in equipment, urban transport, street lighting, waste, treatment of green spaces, etc. And with this new division of powers, there has been talk of abolishing the prefectural and provincial councils, this has not been the case, and this, to assume two important roles. The first is that in Morocco today, there is still a major effort to be made – and it is a battle of primary necessity – to improve the living conditions of the population. The provincial and prefectural councils have this heavy task with human and financial resources as well as social skills. Their second role is to help rural communities.
In Morocco, the regions have a leading role in development. Their mission is to carry out each, an integrated regional development program (RDP), in terms of economic development but sustainable economic development “socially speaking”, environmental and cultural as well. The question of the competitiveness of the Moroccan economy therefore arises today at the regional level. They have two strategic means of planning: the first is the regional land-use plan, a document that maps the development of the territory over a period of 25 to 30 years. On the basis of the scheme is then built the RDP, which serves as a political project to the Regional Council. Citizens elect the councilors for this program, and for the duration of the mandate, which is six years. A real contract between the elected and the citizen!
In addition, to enable the regions to have the capacity to execute their program, public institutions have been created called Regional Project Implementation Agencies (AREP), which should be the operational arms of the regions. Build a new operating model. In general, regional development is proceeding at a brisk pace, almost like on a highway, and His Majesty the King is very keen on this advanced regionalisation project; as now, citizens who identify their elected representatives very well at regional level and understand how they work.
In the RDP of the region voted in July 2017, we have selected two main areas of development: territorial attractiveness and strengthening of economic competitiveness. So, if today we take a compass and we draw a semi-circle, our region is almost in the middle of the most dynamic areas of the territory between Tangier, Fes and Casablanca. We therefore have a geostrategic positioning with easy accessibility with Casablanca, etc … both by the new large port of Kénitra Atlantique for logistics, but also by the tripling of the railway and the TGV at the end of 2018 … Also, in the region, are present almost all areas of possible economic activities. We are the second agricultural region of Morocco and soon the first, thanks to our important water resources. There are still significant investment opportunities for both Moroccans and Europeans. In industry, the sector is booming especially with the installation of the company PSA Peugeot Citroën in about two years (and an open lab with universities), the time of the construction of infrastructure. The environment is also very conducive to develop the aeronautics industry, electrical and what touches the new technologies (in the field of NTIC in particular). Finally, there are also significant opportunities for development on land that depends on the region. We are also looking for developer-developer in this sector.
In addition, our region is also the first university region – which is essential in terms of training and competitiveness – including Mohammed V University, the International University of Rabat and partnerships with other African countries. Our laboratories, etc., own many innovations and patents already! Finally, the region also has potential in the field of tourism, especially with historic sites and a very important natural heritage and of great interest as mountain sites that we would like to develop.
Investment and installation aids exist to facilitate the installation of new businesses, etc. As soon as the project reaches 10 million euros, and in what is planned in terms of regulation, it will be by agreement with the State, in particular through exemptions for the first years concerning taxes and social contributions. And there may be other benefits that can be given to investors. In addition, under our RDP, incentives have been provided to move to the region. Also, we can say that the region really wants to position itself in economic terms and thus facilitate the installation of new activities (land available, transport, etc.) and therefore new investors (public and private).
It is very important for us to be present and work together on projects between our two regions. We are working a lot on environmental issues including the treatment of waste recovery, the fight against water pollution developed by companies in the French region. We also work together, in terms of creating added value, on crafts. It’s about creating employment divisions. Also, with the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region, we have also agreed to provide companies with premises in our two regions for the training of artisans. These exchanges and projects are essential to open new economic development opportunities for our two regions. We all need to create added value.
Morocco today is a strategic partner with different African countries. The country gives access to a market of 1 billion inhabitants. Our country has signed many free trade agreements, particularly with the European Union, Canada, the United States, Arab countries such as Tunisia, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, and so on. This represents important opportunities for all companies that want to settle in Morocco or other countries of the continent and this, in the framework of a North / South / South and therefore a “win-win” partnership. Africa is a continent of great opportunities but is entitled today to seise a new approach to benefit people from the added value produced and not to remain in a logic of exploitation. Besides, Morocco does not want to put itself in this second logic. We want to be a partner for Africa’s development because we are part of it as well.
Our RDP is built on three pillars, three ambitions: social, territorial and economic. Also, there is already a strong will to make sustainable development, a principle that is in the underbase of all actions. On the environmental side, today, our goal is to work on water policy and in particular to reduce pollution. In this context, we have put in place substantial budgets for this. We are developing pilot projects for wastewater treatment in the next four years and also to implement waste recovery projects to break the logic of solid waste landfilling, without sorting nor valorisation. There are also projects in renewable energy development with photovoltaics or other technologies. We will even start with the headquarters building of the area, and other public buildings to make management efforts. We hope to achieve a renewable energy production of 50% in a relatively short time We really want to be a player in this change by helping also the smaller municipalities.. We put the means for that. Finally, in terms of clean mobility, we are investing in the extension of the Rabat-Salé tramway to reduce air pollution.
As president of the ORU / FOGAR but also a member of the Association of the Regions of Morocco, we are working, on an important goal for me, to make the ORU / FOGAR a platform at the service of the regions of South to develop projects that fit into the logic of territorial resilience and fight against climate change. But what is happening today is that when we go looking for funding for these kinds of projects, it must be “bankable”, profitable projects … and we do not always have the expertise This is why a unique platform of projects would be necessary.
That Morocco is a French-speaking country, this facilitates important relations with Europe, France, Belgium but also towards Africa. Language is a very important vector in terms of communication and rapprochement between peoples, such as during school exchanges or getting to know each other better among decision-makers as well. The Association des régions francophones has a very important role in this area in two ways: the first is that sustainable partnerships that are made between communities, allow the aid to go directly to the people and not to the communities’ states. The second is that it is better to work in international forum, such as ORU / FOGAR, because it helps to optimise the means and create a new North-South / South-North approach to develop more.
“The Region is putting in place a dedicated administration, able to ensure a real economic governance at the level of the Territory”.
“The Region is putting in place a dedicated administration, able to ensure a real economic governance at the level of the Territory”.
Administratively and financially, the Region has a very specific functioning, including internally with a clear separation with political affairs. This is what Mr. Mohamed ACHIQ, General Manager of Rabat-Salé-Kénitra Regional Council Services, explains to us here.
The organic law of 2015 defined the attributions of the general services directorates of the regions. Their mission is to assist the president in fulfilling his prerogatives. The administrative tasks are well differentiated from the political stakes in the Council, whose president elected by universal suffrage now acts as authorising officer. The global mission of the director is therefore to build an efficient administration, with an organisation chart and therefore a very structured service architecture and dedicated divisions: financial, environmental, rural affairs, economic and social development, human resources. This represents six divisions, which are under construction. Regions have a complex role to play in terms of integrated and sustainable development, particularly with the implementation of the regional development program, the RDP. This is why the Region is currently trying to set up a dedicated administration that will ultimately be able to provide economic governance on a territorial scale.
Despite our priorities and our urgencies, we have an important dialogue with elected representatives and we are especially attentive to them all the time. Sometimes complex, sometimes simpler. The DGS can not discuss political decisions, only execute them. However, elected officials need the services of the council and vice versa to advance the actions of the region. As regards political communication, this is therefore exclusively the responsibility of the Presidency. There is therefore a clear break with the technical services of the region.
The political will is there but when there is no human means behind to implement the actions, it is not enough. As in any organisation, human resources are a fundamental element. With the merger of the regions we have just known, our “new” region currently employs around 74 people. But, we need mostly staff with specific profiles. Moreover, we are in the process of recruiting a dosen senior executives for the year 2017; three engineers in information systems, statistics and Energy / Environment, three financial and accounting executives for better financial management of the Region’s budget (1 billion dirhams per year) and two computer technicians. We are also recruiting two economists specialised in project management and territorial development. Because we have a lot of work to do in this area.
The ongoing training of elected officials and territorial officials in the Region is part of the Region’s own attributions. According to the decree of application of the organic law relating to the Regions, we must train some 3,000 elected representatives by the end of the term of the Council ie 2021 (at least 8 days / man of training per elected) . To do this in addition to the training of the Ministry of the Interior, we have set up the house of the elected where we will provide these training. We have chosen to work with the Universities of our Region and not a research office to develop our regional plan for continuing education. The first results are convincing and we are now being followed by other Regions.
Regarding the territorial agents numbering 21,000 in our region, we intend to build on existing training and train trainers in the number of 3000 also, on profiles framework. Decentralised cooperation is also an excellent vehicle and we need to develop existing partnerships and put others in place. However, the question of recruitment in the territorial function in Morocco is still difficult, we must better value the status of the territorial official not only in terms of remuneration but also in terms of treatment and respectability because its missions are closer to the citisen.
The development of the RDP Rabat-Salé-Kenitra (RSK) has been a real challenge both internally and with design offices. But we can be proud, with our teams, of the work accomplished so far and that we must continue to implement this ambitious. The reference framework that was defined and voted on in July is already showing promising results even after the first two months of implementation. The structure of the PDR is well designed. If you want to add an action, the document is flexible enough to adapt it. And, given the challenges of the region and the regional pattern of land use, it’s a safe bet that we will have to adapt, to update regularly, and in conjunction with elected officials.en though we are the second richest region in Morocco, human development indicators are still very low, with difficulties in some territories that we have to deal with.
The “RSK” region is a “Capital Region” and this is enough to say that we must be exemplary. We therefore have strong pressure from elected officials and citisens to accomplish our missions. However, and as announced by the advisory commission that worked on the launch of the process of advanced regionalisation in Morocco, it will probably require two terms of regional council probably, so 12 years, to be fully operational and effective. We are living a bit of a jolt because all the “projects” are launched at the same time. But we give ourselves the means. The challenges are important but the motivation of our services is there, in the service of the region and I will conclude by telling you that we will arrive there without any doubt!
“The region has very successful experiences of solidarity farming that demonstrate its positive impact on improving the living conditions of our people”.
At the direction of the Regional Office for Agricultural Development (ORMVA) of Gharb and at the Regional Directorate of Agriculture of Rabat-Salé-Kénitra, Mr. El Mahdi ARRIFI decrypts the agricultural model, its strengths, its difficulties and as the first consequences of the climate changes that are coming.
The Regional Office for Agricultural Development (ORMVAG) is a public institution with financial autonomy and legal personality. It is under the supervision of the Ministry of Agriculture but also under the financial supervision of the Ministry of Economy and Finance. It is an organisation that was created in 1966 to manage the large area of Gharb, which covers more than 380,000 hectares of land with a high production potential. Irrigation is done by large dams. The Office has three main missions: the first is to create land and water development that contributes to improving agricultural productivity. Its second mission concerns irrigation management, ensuring the operation and maintenance of irrigation and drainage networks as well as the distribution of water to farmers. Finally, its third mission is agricultural development with the support of farmers, the production of agricultural studies and statistics, and the execution of projects that focus on the plant and animal production sectors. Since its creation, many developments have thus been made.
The agricultural potential of the Rabat Salé Kenitra region in figures
With all these productions, our region is today in first of the agricultural regions of the country next to the region of Casablanca. Our regional contribution to the national GDP in agriculture is 15% in 2016. There is therefore an important potential that we are of course always valuing. There are still opportunities for development, particularly in the context of the “Green Morocco Plan”. In economic and financial terms, the Agency has several sources of funding. The first comes from the general budget of the state almost 97% of funding from the Ministry of Agriculture. The second, which covers all of our operating expenses, comes from water royalties paid by farmers without recourse to state subsidies. All state funds are used for investment in projects.
This strategy “Green Morocco Plan” (PMV) was born thanks to the strong will of His Majesty King Mohammed VI, this national policy is broken down by regional agricultural plans. Our region has its own plan and it is one of the most important at the national level. Our plan is based on the development of a high value-added agriculture, in the area of “large irrigation” and a program of solidarity agriculture for precarious areas oriented towards small farmers to promote conversion to more profitable crops.
Our plan, calls for the mobilisation of private investment but also public in the carrier vegetable and animal sectors. For this, we have an investment program approaching 19 billion dirhams (about 2 billion euros) over the period of the PMV (2008-2020).
The realisation of the projects is done obviously with the private partners, thus investors organised in particular within the framework of the “interprofessions” since 2012 to structure each sector of the upstream to the downstream of the production until the transformation by including all the actors: from producers to exporters. These partnerships can also be structured in the form of aggregates that allow today to gather small, medium or large producers, around the same agricultural sector and give the opportunity to small or medium farmers access financing through guarantees given by the aggregator. Since its implementation in 2008, the PMV has been able to develop thanks to these shared investment systems. Foreign investors, like the Spanish for red berries for example, also bring us a transfer of skills and play a role of leverage with small farms.
Our current projects and projects in irrigation water are transversal and ambitious for a very high investment of 25 billion dirhams (2.5 billion euros). This concerns three main axes. First, it is the extension of the irrigation perimeter because it is possible to further develop access to available water resources. The second axis relates to the reconversion of networks for water-saving irrigation. Finally, the third and final axis concerns the improvement of the water distribution network, the upgrading of the agricultural water purification network and the opening up of the agricultural world with the valorisation of production and new packaging units. Moreover, we have been able to benefit from European funding. For example, the first major project we did was to reconvert 10,000 ha of an inefficient irrigation system that we converted to drip irrigation with the help of the European Investment Bank, which has financed this program 50%. It is a very successful project, which is modeled and visited. Indeed, we have put in place a modern irrigation system driven by new irrigation warning techniques and integrating the agricultural development component with the objective of improving productivity and diversifying crops, for more economy and better valuation as well as to cope with the effects of climate change.
We are talking a lot about progress in Morocco and it is still necessary. On the human level, the agricultural sector is of course a priority. The Minister of Agriculture became aware, from the launch of the PMV, the importance of training, coach and supervise farmers. This is why a very large national structure has been set up dedicated to agricultural advice and support. It is the National Office of the Agricultural Council which has regional directorates and provincial agricultural advisory services at the level of the whole national territory, this Office is in charge to assure a council of proximity on all the plans, that it is technical , management, training needs, support for change, etc.
For more than eight years of implementation of the PMV, the region has very successful experiences of solidarity farming that demonstrate its positive impact on improving the living conditions of our people and fighting against precariousness. Finally, agricultural vocational training is also important for the progress of the sector. We have vocational training institutions to train specialised technicians, technicians, skilled workers in different disciplines, such as horticulture, breeding, mechanisation, irrigation, etc. We also provide apprenticeship training especially for the sons of farmers, 3000 beneficiaries are expected by 2020, this will help improve the level of small farms. The effect is already being felt, many young people are “moving” the system now!
In terms of resilience, a lot of effort is being made. We are strongly aware of the consequences of climate change: Morocco is at the crossroads of climate change between Europe, Africa and the Atlantic Ocean, and the Mediterranean. We are facing more and more extreme weather events: pronounced droughts like in 2015-2016, very significant floods as in 2009-2010. We are therefore in a perspective of adaptation of our cultures, by rationalising our resources, in order to apprehend and adapt to climate change. Moreover, Morocco is the only country in the World currently that subsidises 100% water saving projects.
What message do you want to pass on to our readership?Morocco’s historic partnership with the European Union in the field of agriculture is an essential point for us. European investors are therefore welcome in Morocco to participate in our development. The know-how of European companies is welcome in the field of irrigation, the development of agricultural land, hydraulic developments. Above all, we take seriously the dimension of climate change that we integrate into every action, every project; the objective is to safeguard natural resources and especially to increase the resilience of the farmer and agriculture in general.
“Our wish for tourism is to position Rabat and its region as a real tourist destination like Marrakech and Agadir”.
General Director of the Regional Council of Tourism of Rabat-Salé-Kénitra, Nadia Benslimane, invites us to visit her region by talking about the opportunities and prospects of development in tourism.
Our Regional Tourism Council (CRT) was created in November 2004. This makes the tourism sector a priority sector for the region. There are CRTs in each region in Morocco. Our missions are therefore to develop tourism of course, but also to participate in the national development plan that is available in each region. We work in partnership with the Moroccan National Office of Tourism. We are also responsible for ensuring the quality of training and services offered to our visitors. The CRT that I lead is therefore a tool for development and animation under the status of consular association. Our Council brings together all regional partners: local authorities, local authorities, industry professionals (hotels, restaurants, museums, etc.) and developers – developers as well.
With the merger of the two Rabat-Salé regions, we have been able to diversify the tourism offer. As you know, our region is primarily agricultural and we are fortunate to have a lot of natural areas of great value (with “wet” areas that have been developed: lakes, lagoons, etc.). But our strong point is the city of Rabat itself – the historical heart of the country, its “DNA” itself – and this, as a gateway to the region but also as the capital of the kingdom , with its history and its museums, monuments, medinas, etc … The city was also classified in 2012 as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is indeed a model of urbanism with an architecture of exception. Rabat is a “green city”, a city “garden” (with 20 m² per inhabitant – that is exceptional according to the World Health Organization). Rabat is one of the most authentic Moroccan cities but is being modernised with new districts.
Currently, 90% of the region’s activity is in Rabat and Salé (with its international airport). We want to double our capacity by 2020 with ongoing projects. Our main visitors come from Europe, and the French market is the first with 19% of visitors. But we are also starting to make ourselves known to other countries like Brazil, Russia and the Scandinavian countries, the Arab countries and Africa, and even India now!
Our wish for tourism in the region is precisely to position Rabat and its region as a real tourist destination like Marrakech and Agadir. We are the seventh destination of the kingdom. Rabat is not very visible at present internationally. Instead, Marrakech and Agadir are “locomotives”. Rabat is a city with many museums that facilitates the organization of many exhibitions – worthy of the largest international cities. We have partnerships with museums like Le Louvre de Paris.
Our ambition is to make Rabat better known on the international scene. We need to invest in digital, social networks, etc. It is also about positioning ourselves on everything that is high value-added activity such as business tourism, golf, tourism health and well-being but also on a very popular sector too which is the agro-tourism.
Rabat concentrates a great deal of diversity in the field of education and training with major university infrastructures. This can and should help us to develop tourist trainings: there is a school that depends directly on the Ministry of Tourism but also private schools that develop training in the hospitality sector. We try to attract young people who are trained and develop continuous training because we can always improve to be in tune with the new needs of tourists.
We are a region in full development and where there are investment opportunities in all sectors and in the tourism sector. We still have a lot of “place” on the coast to develop, but it also implies for us to invest in networks. Our Council is on this dynamic.