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Morocco among the top ten countries in offshoring sector

By Imane Belhaj for Magharebia in Casablanca – 07/01/09

Morocco has emerged as one of the top 10 countries in the world in the offshoring services, despite only entering the field a handful of years ago. This was the opinion of Foreign Trade Minister Abdellatif Maazouz, published recently in French-language weekly Jeune Afrique.

Three years ago, Maazouz said, it was not even considered part of the country's income.

"Mega-investors' demand to invest in heavy sectors calls for optimism," continued the minister, "and can attract other globally reputable investors."

Offshoring activities are also expected to significantly boost the Moroccan job market.

Morocco opened its doors to offshoring in July 2006, as one component of the development initiative "Plan Emergence". It is viewed to be one of the most promising sectors in spurring economic growth.

According to political analyst Ibrahim Yahia, multinational companies are attracted by Morocco's geographical and cultural location as well as economic dynamism. Political stability and low-cost labour compared to Europe, he said, are also among the key criteria multinational companies look at when they choose Morocco as a destination for offshoring.

In the next 10 years, the demand for offshoring is expected to rise, Yahia said.

Two special areas in Casablanca and Rabat have been equipped to accommodate offshoring. The first offices, in "Casanearshore", were operational in December 2007. "Rabat Technopolis" followed soon after, in July 2008.

Now, more than 35 companies have signed lease contracts at the two locations. The Ministry of Industry and Trade added, on its website, that the offshoring sector could boost GDP by nearly 15 billion dirhams by 2015, in addition to creating some 100,000 new jobs.

New sites are expected to begin operation in Tangier and Fez in the near future.

"This sector is brimming with development potential due to the high demand from European countries for service provision over the next ten years," said Education Minister Ahmed Akhchichine.

Mohamed Lasri, Director-General of Casanearshore, said the urgent offshoring demand from European clients who want to strengthen their presence in Morocco will require an increased work force and greater expertise.

Morocco's higher education system is making the field a priority. Under a partnership between the office for professional training and work promotion, the National Agency for the Promotion of Work and Skills (ANAPEC) and universities, a national offshoring training programme was created, offering 12 different professions and specialties. The plan is to train 22,000 graduates by the end of 2009.

Fatiha Houssni, a technician in the Nidaa centre, said that she was unemployed for two years after graduation. Now, she got an offshoring job.

Offshoring "managed to absorb unemployment and create job opportunities," she said, adding that the pay is better than in other public jobs.

Adil Taqqi said that all he needed to get a job in offshoring field is a good command of the French language and some marketing strategies that he learned at a training course offered by the company before he was hired. He now has a job and has subscribed to the National Fund for Social Insurance and Health Insurance.

"Offshoring helped me start a new life," he said. "I managed to complete my studies and get a higher diploma, thanks to my new job."

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