Given the richness of Morocco's soil, the economy is dominated by the agricultural sector. This sector employs nearly 34% of the workforce and contributes to 11.4% of GDP (World Bank, 2019). Argan, barley, citrus fruits, grapes, livestock, olives, vegetables, wheat and wine are the country's main crops. In recent years, the government has placed increased emphasis on this sector, through its "Green Morocco Plan" and the Agricultural Development Fund. The 2021 budget of the Ministry of Agriculture has also been increased by 14% (to approximately US$1.52 billion).
The lifestyle shifts, increased consumption and spending of Moroccans have helped to create a thriving food sector in Morocco.
With rising urbanisation and a more hectic pace of life, consumers are now demanding for more convenient, yet healthier, food options. This has translated to increased acceptance of ready-to-eat meals and growing popularity of packaged and processed food, which are at the same time, high in nutritional and sensorial qualities. Food service companies in Singapore may find new opportunities in the major cities, where residents have the income to support a growing restaurant scene.
Modern grocery distribution channels are also expanding in Morocco. By 2025, large supermarkets and hypermarkets could account for as much as 30% of food retailing in Morocco1. On the other end, online retailing is also seeing some growth as digitally-savvy consumers turn to e-retailers to order and purchase their food products. Singapore F&B companies and food manufacturers can tap opportunities in these areas to capture a slice of the market.
The yearly FoodExpo convention is another potential platform for Singapore agriculture and food manufacturing companies to meet partners, buyers and investors in the region.
1 Oxford Business Group, Rising incomes encouraging retailers in Morocco to expand online and outside major cities
The Moroccan government has sought to modernise its financial infrastructure. While Morocco has traditionally been behind the payments curve, its central bank expanded on its definition of what constitutes a “payment institution” in 2015. The updated classification now allows non-bank providers and fintech companies to offer digital wallets. In 2016, the government unveiled the “Digital 2020” initiative to position Morocco as a digital hub in French-speaking Africa. In 2019, Morocco unveiled a reform programme to address social and economic inclusion, with approximately US$700 million in funding from the World Bank.
This programme is focused on three core pillars – to enhance financial inclusion for individuals and entrepreneurs, support the development of digital platforms and infrastructure (i.e. increasing broadband internet access), and enhancing support to digital entrepreneurs. Beyond just creating a more inviting backdrop for digital businesses, another stated goal is also to create more options around mobile payment solutions to increase the efficiency and lower the cost of transactions. These initiatives present opportunities for Singapore’s fintech and financial services companies to provide their services in the market.
There are various opportunities in the infrastructure and real estate sectors for Singaporean businesses as urbanisation takes place in Morocco. The Moroccan government has been investing billions in the country’s transport and energy infrastructure over the last decade, with several mega projects emerging.
These mega projects include Ouarzazate Solar Power Station, the world’s largest solar plant, and Al-Boraq, a high-speed rail service that currently runs between Casablanca and Tangier. Both projects are slated for further expansion. Infrastructure for water supply is also being developed through public-private partnership models and the requirements include using clean energy and desalination technology.
Other projects include further improving the internal and external connectivity of Morocco – including the expansion of Morocco’s road networks, construction of Casablanca’s second tramline (with potential plans to increase the tram network to up to seven lines) and further development of the Kingdom’s port infrastructure.
Beyond infrastructure, the government has also been focusing on real estate development, to meet the housing needs of its growing city population and address the housing deficit challenge.
Singapore businesses in real estate and hospitality development can find good investment prospects in Morocco today. The growth of high-end resorts and hotels also signal opportunities for service providers, who will likely see demand for their expertise as more of such projects are completed.
The retail sector in Morocco is flourishing thanks to the rising affluence of Moroccan consumers. This sector is estimated to account for 12% of Morocco’s gross domestic product (GDP), and hires around 13% of Morocco’s labour force.
Increased tourist arrivals coupled with increasing GDP per capita and a rising consumer price index all signal the growing potential of Morocco’s expanding retail segment. Tourist arrivals increased by 5.2% in 2019 to 13 million. The food retail market alone is estimated to account for 13.5% of the country’s GDP1 in 2020, and employment in the sector represents about 13% of total jobs, with as many as 1.2 million people employed.
1 USDA report