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job, development, Morocco
Building on its political and social stability, an improvement in the business climate, substantial investments and a successful integration into global value chains with high technology content, Morocco has many assets. How to combine this path with inclusive and sustainable development? An Agence Française de Développement (AFD) study explores the issue.

Despite its many resources, Morocco is finding it hard to take a sustainable path towards emergence. It did seem to have come close to it, by experiencing a growth rate of nearly 5% in the 2000s, thanks to a private sector boosted by the development of credit and public investments. However, the various reforms implemented to promote the structural transformation of the economy have not achieved the expected results in terms of creating growth and employment. This is despite substantial productivity gains. What can be done to improve the performance of Morocco’s economy, while transitioning towards a more inclusive development model?

Rethinking the development model

This issue has recently been the subject of several reports with largely consistent diagnostics. The study released by AFD on Thursday 19 December continues to examine these questions, considering that this objective can no longer be addressed in the same way as in the early 2000s.

As noted by Bertrand Savoye, an economist at AFD and author of the study, the growth path seen in Southeast Asian countries during the period, which has for a long time been a model for emerging economies, has ceased to be replicable on a larger scale: “The international environment is less conducive to the development of trade than twenty years ago”, says the expert, “to the extent that we are now even seeing premature deindustrialization phenomena in certain countries.”   

Another phenomenon identified by Bertrand Savoye is a marked decoupling between productivity gains and job creation in countries engaged in economic transition dynamics, starting with Morocco: “This phenomenon calls for other avenues to be explored to offer opportunities to everyone who risks being excluded from the labor market”, says the economist.

Employment a priority 

Employment indeed remains the major social issue in Morocco, whereas remarkable progress has been achieved in improving living conditions in recent decades. The study notes that there have been significant improvements in poverty reduction and an increase in life expectancy, which rose from 66 to 76 years between 1990 and 2016.

However, a number of challenges remain: marked territorial inequalities persist and unemployment remains particularly high among young people, while the participation rate of women in the labor market has declined.

The study does not omit to mention a fundamental point: the transition towards a sustainable and inclusive development model will not happen without better account being taken of environmental issues. Establishing sustainable water and soil management models has in particular become a priority.