the north africa journal



230th Issue: September 2012 ---- Download full PDF version here

Political Transition and the Economy
While Tunisian Politicians Bicker, Nation’s Economy Remains Dormant

Despite some pockets of positive news, the Tunisian economy continues to struggle under the weight of a traumatic political transition. The leadership in government remains deeply divided and focused on the internal political infighting, preventing decision makers from building the bases of economic growth.

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How to Rule by Proxy
The King’s Eyes and Ears in the Moroccan Provinces

The latest revision of the Moroccan constitution is supposed to provide more power to the representatives of the people and reduce the Monarchy's prerogatives. Still, the monarchy remains unchallenged, having created a system that essentially controls virtually everything, directly and through the so-called Makhzen system. Among the front-line defenders of the monarchy's dominance over Moroccans are 17 men, no single woman, who were appointed to administer the provinces. They were not voted in nor selected by the people, nor were they appointed by the semi-autonomous Prime Minister. In fact, they were appointed by the powerful Interior Minister who reports directly to the King.

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A Continuity PM
Algeria President Names New PM Amid Drastic Economic Environment

Algeria’s President, Abdelaziz Bouteflika has appointed a loyal ally Abdelmalek Sellal as new Prime Minister, to replace Ahmed Ouyahia. The change was planned for a while but the decision took a long time as a consensus had to first emerge among the leadership in the regime. Ouyahia’s resignation is another step for him to position himself ahead of the upcoming presidential race.

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Trade & Markets
Counterfeit Goods Invade North Africa, Industry Poorly Coordinated

North African customs are facing a deluge of counterfeit products entering their markets. In Algeria, the customs office (Direction Générale des Douanes or DGD) reports that the amount of counterfeit products rose by a stunning 84.5% in 2011, compared to 2010. The DGD is either overwhelmed by such inflow of illegal products or does not have enough incentives to launch a full crackdown. In neighboring Morocco, the situation is no better, so much so that multinational corporations that own well-known consumer brands have been busy cracking down on the counterfeit market themselves. It’s not just consumer brands that are struggling with counterfeit, but it also extends to more sophisticated products like computer software, laptops and printers’ cartridges. And it is not just the brands that are suffering from the problem. Consumers are cheated, believing that they are actually purchasing the real deal.

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Competing for Africa
Is China’s Africa’s Economic Campaign Unstoppable?

On July 19, 2012, Chinese officials announced the doubling of the amount of credits allocated to Africa to $20 billion. The money is to be spent on infrastructure, agriculture and industrial projects. The year 2008 was an important year, during which trade between China and Africa exceeded the $100 billion mark. But Chinese activities in Africa are not evenly distributed among African nations or sectors.

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Urban Development & North African Cities:
Casablanca Invests in Transport Infrastructure

North Africa’s largest cities face the same problems as their Western counterparts. Heavy traffics that are the result of a growing middle class with disposable incomes, combined with a public transportation system that is unable to cope with high demand, are making the lives of residents difficult, if not miserable. While Casablanca remains one of the best planned cities in North Africa, residents still complain about the difficulties they face in moving about. Their problems come largely from the explosion in a number of construction projects in and around the city, projects launched precisely to help them cope with the traffic problem.

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Tunisia’s Estate Market and Foreign Investors:
Between Libyan Fear and Spanish Attractiveness

The real estate market in Tunisia is displaying mixed signals. Pockets of growth in the housing market continue to drive prices up, but these houses were designed for foreign investors and wealthy Tunisians. In contrast, the average Tunisian is priced out of these desirable real estate sites as their incomes do not meet the continuously rising prices in regions that have been insulated from the political crisis facing the country for the past two years. The northern suburbs of the capital Tunis has the most expansive real estate in the nation. The proximity to Mediterranean beaches, vibrant nightlife, and established economy, make places like the mythical Carthage, Sidi Bousaïd, Marsa, and La Goulette some of the most desirable locations in North Africa, with an average price per square meter (psm) hovering between TND 1,160 in Kram and TND 2,600 Sidi Boussaid, representing three times the national average.

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State of
the States

By Arezki Daoud

Questions about the political future of North African nations abound in the aftermath of the “Jasmine Revolution” started by the Tunisians. Among those asking such questions are corporate executives and investors who, under the current environment have no visibility about the future of the region and are, understandably very nervous about committing resources. Although it is very risky to attempting to preview the future of the region, ongoing events provide some key pointers as to what we should expect. Here’s a quick summary of where North African nations stand today.. Continue here.

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Egypt’s Energy Sector Assessment

Oil Companies Position Themselves for Leadership in Libya

R’as Lanuf Oil Processing Site Resumes Activity

Libya’s 2012 Oil Revnue to Near $55 Billion

Shell Oil Wins Exploration Project in Tunisia

Algeria to Import Diesel as Demand Surpasses Refining Output

Counterfeit Goods Invade North Africa, Industry Poorly Coordinated

Is China’s Africa’s Economic Campaign Unstoppable?

While Tunisian Politicians Bicker, Nation’s Economy Remains Dormant

Libya, Egypt and Tunisia Drag Down FDI in Arab World and Africa to Negative Territory

Bankrupt Employment Policies and Corruption are Source of High Unemployment in North Africa

BCP Bank Morocco Performance Review

Moroccan Banks Say At-Risk Debts up 4%, Government Borrows More

Fitch Ratings Sees “Stable Outlook” for Tunisian Leasing Firms

Attijariwafa Bank: Bucking the Trend

Tunisia’s Banking Sector in 1H2012: Loans and Deposits Growing at Slow Pace

Tunisia’s Car Dealership Firm Ennakl Still in Financial Troubles Post Sakher el-Materi, Despite Strong Market Performance

Visteon Ups Capital in its Morocco Unit

Tunisian Drugs Company Adwya Maintains Positive Growth

Tunisia’s Estate Market for Foreign Investors: Between Libyan Fear and Spanish Attractiveness

The Moroccan Steel Market in Turmoil, Analysts Recommend Sale of Sonasid Stock

Libyan People Brace for a New Prime Minister

Algeria: President Appoints “Continuity” Prime Minister Amid Drastic Economic Environment

How to Rule by Proxy: the King’s Eyes and Ears in the Moroccan Provinces

“Democratically”-Elected Tunisian Government Unable to Adopt Democracy: Journalists Targeted

North Africa Update: State of the States From the Editor. By: Arezki Daoud