The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on global health has, understandably, dominated the headlines, but supply chains and production schedules have also been affected. These disruptions and the slowed transit of goods have delayed work for large projects everywhere, posing unique challenges for development agencies like MCC.
Recently, I had the honor to visit Morocco to see the status of projects working to expand education and employment opportunities for young people and to improve land productivity and expanded land rights for women in rural areas. I am happy to report that despite significant obstacles, the $460 million MCC – Morocco Employability and Land Compact is making remarkable progress towards its goals and setting the stage for more robust economic growth and poverty reduction in the country.
During the visit, I met with officials from the Moroccan government, representatives from the private sector, and high school students who are already benefitting from compact activities. I also had the opportunity to participate in the launch of a new Public-Private Partnership (PPP) at the Bouznika Industrial Park outside of Casablanca, part of a market-driven approach to developing sustainable industrial zones being piloted with MCC support. This project is a new model in Morocco as the government and MCC look to better leverage private sector expertise and capital to boost growth.
The Bouznika Industrial Park extension project is part of the compact’s $170 million Land Productivity project to improve the country’s land governance and productivity to attract investors. MCC’s $5 million investment in the extension project, combined with an $11 million investment of Cap Holding is expected to attract an additional $75 million in private investment from industrial companies occupying the park and result in the creation of 4,000 jobs.
Following the launch of the PPP, I traveled to Tangier to visit the Abdelkhalek Torres High School, one of 90 schools across three regions of Morocco that is piloting a participatory approach to education under the compact’s Secondary Education Activity. Each school has developed its own priorities for new activities using an integrated school improvement plan, led by the school director, students, teachers, and parents.
It was impressive and heart-warming to see how the project has had such a positive impact on the learning environment of this school. The new model combines reforms in school governance with targeted investments in infrastructure, technology, and training for teachers and school administrators, and we are working closely with the Ministry of Education to ensure this model can be expanded to other secondary schools across the country after the compact ends.
As we enter the final year of this compact, I am very pleased with the significant progress the Government of Morocco has made implementing this complex and ambitious grant program that has represents an enormously successful partnership between the United States and Morocco.
Along with my colleagues at MCC, I will continue to focus on supporting the Government of Morocco, as well as our partners in the private sector and civil society, to ensure that Moroccan youth, women, and men have the skills needed to succeed in a modern labor force, and support efforts to increase land productivity and land rights for women in rural areas. All told, MCC estimates that the compact will benefit more than 800,000 Moroccans across the country. I’m already looking forward to my next visit when I can see further progress with our Moroccan partners.