Morocco sees big investment drive from auto part manufacturers

By Pierre-Olivier Rouaud

Posted on Wednesday, 2 October 2019 18:32
The car industry terminal is pictured at Tanger-Med port in Ksar Sghir near the coastal city of Tangier, Morocco 26 June 2019. REUTERS/Youssef Boudlal

The arrival of the PSA Peugeot Citroën plant in Kenitra, northern Morocco, has led to a wave of investments by automotive equipment manufacturers, particularly Chinese ones, in the North African kingdom.

The massive investment — €350m ($383m) — by the Chinese group CITIC Dicastal, testifies to the dynamism of the automotive industry in Morocco and the emergence of the Middle Kingdom’s equipment manufacturers in this country. CITIC Dicastal inaugurated a rim factory at the end of June in Kenitra — the first of two such factories to be built in the country.

Over the past two years, other operators such as Aetocar, Regal, Nanjing Xiezhong and the Sino-American Nexteer have opened factories there. This is the result of Peugeot’s presence in Morocco and the links that the French company maintains with China, through its shareholder Dongfeng.

Industrial fabric

Whether they come from Europe, the United States, Japan or even now China, automotive investments have not faltered since the beginning of the decade and the 2012 opening of Renault’s giant plant in Tangier, north-west Morocco.

But the PSA Peugeot Citroën Kenitra site, which is currently under construction and expected to be completed by next year, is giving new impetus to the sector.

“Our industry consists of more than 150 companies, 160,000 jobs, and nearly €10bn in exports … and good growth prospects, thanks in particular to the public-private policy of industrial ecosystems,” says Rachid Machou, vice-president of the Association Marocaine pour l’Industrie et la Construction Automobile (AMICA) and general manager of Group Antolin Morocco.

The 6th Motor Supplier Show (25-27 September), which was organised by AMICA and sponsored by Renault and Peugeot, showed this. More than 220 exhibitors, particularly those from support services such as maintenance etc., where present.

Morocco’s industrial fabric is already unrivalled on the continent, except for South Africa, due to the integration rates targeted by the two automakers as part of their contractual relations with the government: 65% by 2023 for Renault and 80% for Peugeot (currently 60%).

The kingdom praised for its liberal policy

Peugeot has around 60 equipment manufacturers working for the group’s first integrated plant in Africa. Half of them have arrived to support the manufacturer, particularly in Kenitra, which, after Tangiers and Casablanca, is the country’s third-largest automotive hub.

This is the case with the Italian family group, Proma. The Naples-based manufacturer invested €30m into a stamping site that was inaugurated mid-September. “We already own Promaghreb, a factory that works for Renault, but Peugeot has encouraged us to invest more. The Kenitra site sends 80% to Peugeot, but we intend to develop exports with a target of €23m per year,” explains Luigi Montella, director of Proma Morocco.

  • While Morocco may have a minimum wage that is almost twice as high as that of Tunisia – as well as a fairly expensive land – industrialists are in favour of the country for its liberal policy (Morocco does not impose local capital participation), its public aid (up to 10% of projects), but most especially for its production volume.
  • With the PSA Peugeot Citroën plant, plus Renault’s plants in Tangier and Casablanca (the Renault SOMACA plant in Casablanca is in the process of doubling production), the kingdom should produce more than 700,000 vehicles per year by 2022 – 90% of them for export – and thus become the number-one manufacturer on the continent, ahead of South Africa, which manufactured 610,854 vehicles in 2018.

Raising targets

In addition, there is the market for European car factories, which are directly connected by road via a ferry crossing the Strait of Gibraltar (almost 300,000 semi-trailers per year). The French logistics company Gefco saw this opportunity, taking control of GLT, the Spanish leader in crossings of the Strait, at the beginning of 2018.

  • Valeo, Yazaki, Denso (Toyota), Faurecia, Saint-Gobain, Asahi Glass and Lear —the global elite of equipment manufactures – are now in Morocco.
  • As are the engineers, such as France’s Altran, and soon, perhaps, the German Bertrandt.

The bottom line: All that remains is for Morocco and commerce and industry minister Moulay Hafid Elalamy to transform the industry is to attract a third manufacturer. This could ensure the country exceeds the million-vehicle production mark.

This article first appeared in Jeune Afrique.

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