Pharmaceuticals, aeronautics and agri-food – Morocco is home to a plethora of exciting clusters on the up. The development and acceleration of these sectors embodies the nation’s recent success.
The agri-food sector is a pillar of the Moroccan economy, with an annual revenue of $17bn (€15.6bn) and 161,000 jobs. The National Agency for the Development of Aquaculture (ANDA) is focused on the growth of Morocco’s aquaculture sector, which covers fish, seaweed and shellfish farming. Director general Majida Maarouf feels the agency’s work reveals a sector on the up. “With more than 23,000 hectares of allocated zones, about 400 aquaculture projects will be implemented across Moroccan regions,” she says.
Last year Belgian aerospace company SABCA inaugurated the first final assembly line in Africa, allowing Morocco to make the aerostructures of the Swiss PC-12 aircraft. It’s another example of an industry that’s flying high. Morocco houses more than 140 subcontractors that support leading international operators, such as Boeing and Airbus; Spirit Aerosystems assembles the fuselage for the latter’s A220 here too. Hexcel, another global aerospace leader, makes aircraft and helicopter parts in its Casablanca factory.
The Pharma 5 site in Casablanca is an impressive set of buildings about 20 minutes drive from the city’s centre. It is here that the pharmaceutical company stores, produces and ensures the quality of its medicinal products, which include treatments for hepatitis B, hepatitis C, diabetes and tuberculosis. The pharmaceutical industry is one of Morocco’s strongest, contributing to 5.2 per cent of the nation’s industrial GDP. Last year the country announced the construction of a vaccine manufacturing plant – the largest on the African continent – which it hopes will produce 116 million vaccine units by 2024.
Pharma 5’s quality director, Rasha Maarouf, has worked in the sector for almost 20 years and has witnessed its growth first-hand. “This is down to investment but also the people,” she says. “We have a very high level of education in pharma.”
Founded by Abdallah Lahlou-Filali back in 1985, Pharma 5 manufactures and develops more than 98 per cent of its products in Morocco, exporting them to more than 40 countries worldwide. It is also the leading supplier of medicine to Moroccan hospitals, owing to a values-driven approach that sees it seeking to strike a balance between profit and purpose. “The word here is fiers, which means ‘proud’ in English.” says Maarouf. “The F [in ‘fiers’] stands for family. We consider the country as one family. We want all people to have access to drugs at low prices.”
This mantra sees Pharma 5 continuously investing in resources so that it can increase production capacity. It currently has 1,700 employees, who help to produce one billion units a year, and an in-house academy dedicated to helping its workforce to develop their skills.
“Our vision is to externalise the academy,” says Abdeljalil Lahmidi, one of its training officers. “We want to train staff at other companies too.”