In uncertain times, one should look for stable allies and long-term partners. In a North African region marked by political and economic turmoil, the Kingdom of Morocco stands out as a nation enjoying institutional and macro-economic stability, a liberal economy as well as an educated workforce.
Moreover, under the leadership of His Majesty King Mohammed VI, Morocco has, over the last decade, become one of North West Africa’s leading countries, a catalyst for economic growth and a financial hub granting access to a market of over a billion consumers.
But this tells only half the story. Most importantly, Morocco could become the best platform south of the Mediterranean to build a prosperity hub based on co-investment between the north and the south, that could ensure security and prosperity to the whole region.
To fulfil this vision, the Moroccan pharmaceutical industry is committed to playing an instrumental role, which the Covid-19 crisis has made even more essential for both Europe and Africa.
The Best Manufacturing Platform for Europe to address Africa
Analysts and experts are increasingly convinced that Morocco is the best platform for Europe when it comes to setting up industrial investments primarily aimed at reaching West Africa's 400 million French-speaking consumer market.
Morocco’s institutional solidity and macroeconomic stability make it an ideal location for long-term investments. The country has a strong regulatory framework and is business friendly.
Moreover, the kingdom has an established 70 year tradition in pharmaceutical manufacturing. Morocco’s pharma industry is Africa’s second largest sector, drawing around €50m in investment every year and represents more than 40,000 jobs.
Furthermore, its industry is very agile, can produce small quantities rapidly and enjoys international certifications -including European ones - approved by the WHO.
Commercially, Morocco was one of the first countries to recognise patents and to implement a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (DCFTA) with Europe.
The opportunity is real, according to Pharma World author Giuliana Miglierini who recently wrote that Morocco’s “central location in the Mediterranean area, connecting Sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and Europe, may support Morocco to achieve a further consolidation of the pharmaceutical and healthcare sector in the upcoming years”.
Domestically, the recent evolution of Morocco’s Pharma market tends to support ITS positioning as a pan-African Pharmaceutical manufacturing hub.
With sales over $1.68bn in 2019 and a yearly increase of over seven percent - which would lead to a doubling in the market size by 2028 - the Moroccan national market is expanding rapidly.
Furthermore, according to Fitch Solutions, “The Moroccan market presents considerable opportunities for drug makers … [and] is is bolstered by a swift pharmaceuticals approval process, a sustained economic growth in the past several years, the country's strong ties with European countries, and its strategic geopolitical location.”
An alliance that serves Europe and Africa’s common agenda
Home to Africa’s largest port in Tangiers, Morocco also has state of the art logistics, transportation, and technological ecosystems located at crossroads between three continents.
This allows the Kingdom to be in a unique position to become a manufacturing bridge between Europe and Africa, allowing the creation of a prosperity hub south of the Mediterranean.
The issues at stake are immense for Europe, as supporting Morocco’s ambition to become a leading industrial destination in the pharmaceutical sector would serve both continents' agendas and create shared added value.
Forexample, creating an alliance between Europe’s chemical industry and Morocco’s manufacturing units would shorten logistics routes and allow the rapid supply of essential and strategic medicines, such as Chloroquine – used to fight Covid-19- or Insulin.
When it comes to fighting potential pandemic outbursts, a manufacturing hub located less than a two-hour plane ride from the heart of the EU could indeed be useful to building a rapid response.
Not only does Morocco have the geographic location, the skills, and the infrastructures to become a strong regional player in the pharma industry, the Kingdom is also becoming a “green hub”, with a renewed commitment to be Africa’s next climate champion.
Indeed, Africa’s largest solar power programme - Noor - is located in Morocco and has been in service since 2018. By 2030, 52 percent of Morocco’s energy mix will be produced from renewable energy, allowing industries to reduce their carbon emissions and to be compliant with new environmental standards.
For Europe, this means that a bet on Morocco’s Pharma Industry is not only logical when it comes to location, cost, market access and stability. It is also a bet on the future of the planet by investing in a country committed to fighting climate change.