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A high technology industrial park in Morocco
02/12/2014  -  in ANBA

With businesses in the fields of electronics, biotechnology, nanotechnology, research and services, Technopolis gathers over 40 companies in Rabat and is open to Brazilian entrepreneurs.

Rabat – With over 40 companies in an area of 130,000 square meters, Technopolis is a space dedicated to high-technology foreign companies, in the fields of electronics, biotechnology, nanotechnology and other services, only a few minutes away from the Moroccan capital city center. Created in 2008, the park will undergo two expansion phases and is seeking new partners interested in setting shop, including Brazilian companies.

“We have two industrial zones. One of them is a free zone, open to companies that export at least 8% of their production. The other follows the normal legislation and is open to those interested in establishing themselves here,” explained Hnya Brick, Project and Development Director at Technopolis, to a group of Brazilian journalists who visited the place this Monday (27). The free area inside Technopolis is the most recent in the country, set up less than one year ago, and the first companies in this part of the park should be established by the end of 2014.

Brick notes that one of the main attracting factors for companies to come to Technopolis are the human resources from the universities located in the region. “We have partnerships with three universities, one private, the International University of Rabat, and two public, University of Souissi and University Mohammed V,” she emphasized. With the partnership, as well as technicians and engineers, the companies may also benefit from these institutions’ research and development laboratories.

Among the companies that have already established themselves at Technopolis are known names in Brazil, such as Nestlé, Dell, Accenture, HP, Bosch and BNP Paribas. The procedure for moving into Technopolis is quite flexible, and companies may customize their contracts with the park administration, choosing whether to purchase or rent the land, negotiate building construction and the duration period.

The Moroccan state-owned long-term investment fund manager, CDG (Caisse de Dépôt et de Gestion), is responsible for the Technopolis construction costs. According to Brick, the companies at the park do not reveal their revenues, but information from the Technopolis website indicates that from it’s opening until 2015, the park is expected to contribute with over US$ 606 million to the Moroccan GDP.

The second phase of the expansion project includes the construction of another 13,000 square meters. Currently 8,000 people work at Technopolis.

Automotive systems

One of the firms to establish themselves at Technopolis is Lear Corporation, of automotive systems, particularly seating and electrical distribution, whose clients include the great German carmakers. The North American company opened their Moroccan plant at the Rabat park in 2011.

“In our first year revenues added up to US$ 20 million; in 2012, US$ 100 million; last year we reached US$ 150 million and we expect to sell US$ 250 million this year,” revealed Aissam Chaouki, the Rabat Factory Manager.

Chaouki says that 70% of the Moroccan production is sold to BMW. Other clients of the Arab branch include Volkswagen, Jaguar, Audi, Land Rover and Renault-Nissan.

“We chose Morocco because of the country’s economic development and political stability. From here we are able to supply the main carmakers in Europe,” he emphasized. In august last year, the company opened a second plant in the company, in the city of Kenitra.

An interesting fact about Lear in Morocco is that of the 700 employees working at the factory, over 90% are women. “They are more precise,” says the manager. Among the engineers, 15% are women.

Investment opportunities

With two main trade partners, France and Spain, Morocco wishes to diversify the country’s investment sources and aims to include countries like Brazil. Among the strategies the Arab country is employing to attract Brazilian attention is to promote business opportunities using the national press. The government is also seeking to approach Brazilian entrepreneurs, by organizing workshops and a business trip with Brazilian executives to Morocco, planned for this year.

“The message we are sending to Brazilians is that Africa is the future, it is a green field (to be developed), and we can help form partnerships between Brazilian and Moroccan companies,” stated Ahmed Fihri, General-Manager at the Moroccan Investment Development Agency (AMDI).

According to him, Morocco wishes to develop partnerships in sectors such as agribusiness, aerospace technology and renewable energy. “Morocco may be a platform to access other countries in the Middle East and North Africa,” said Fihri.

Driss Sekkat, Business Development Manager at the AMDI, noted the joint efforts of his agency with the Arab-Brazilian Chamber of Commerce and the Federation of Industries of the State of São Paulo (Fiesp). “The Chamber is doing an excellent job,” he stated, about the help offered by the entity in introducing the Brazilian market.

For the Brazilian ambassador in Rabat, Frederico Meyer, there are good business opportunities for Brazilians in Morocco. “Bombardier is here, and even so Royal Air Maroc purchased two Embraer 190 aircrafts,” he noted, referring to the Canadian and Brazilian jet companies. According to Meyer, Embraer’s representation in the fleet of the Moroccan company, which started direct flights between São Paulo and Casablanca at the end of 2013, may still increase.

“Royal Air Maroc announced last year it was planning to buy 10 to 15 airplanes. There are three competitors, the Russians, Canadians and Brazilians, and we are well set in the competition,” said Meyer.