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Posted on Tuesday, 06 October 2015 14:24

Morocco’s economic diplomacy in Côte d’Ivoire

By Nadia Rabbaa

Photos© All rights reserved In April and May, the Côte d'Ivoire government raised 132bn CFA francs ($222m), with 90% coming from Moroccan institutions.

 

Actibourse (Bank of Africa), Africaine de Bourse (Attijariwafa Bank) and Atlantique Finance (Banque Centrale Populaire, BCP) each took a 40bn CFA tranche of bonds.

Without the Moroccan intervention, such a large amount may have been hard to raise, especially under current market conditions.

Insiders see the hand of the palace in pushing such an orderly uptake of the Ivorian paper, pointing to the fact that King Mohammed VI visited Abidjan a few weeks after the issue.

Certainly, the Moroccan authorities have a very active economic diplomacy agenda. Souleymane Diarrassouba, chief executive of Atlantic Business International (#73), the BCP-owned holding company that controls Groupe Banque Atlantique, agrees: "The arrival of the Moroccan banks has been good for the country. They have created more economic and commercial links between the two countries and created more business opportunities."

He points to the experience Moroccan banks have in retail banking and financing small and medium-sized enterprises, which they have duplicated in Côte d'Ivoire while adapting techniques to local realities.

For him, the real acid test has been in the banking penetration rate, which has significantly risen – albeit from a low level – since the arrival of the Moroccan banks. Banking penetration stood at 5% in 2004 and reached 12% in 2014, according to official statistics.

What about the local banks that complain when the three Moroccan banks put up advertising welcoming the king of Morocco to Abidjan? Diarrassouba laughs away these concerns: "Morocco is a brother country and a friend. And when the king of Morocco comes to Côte d'Ivoire, he is at home."



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