A first seminar in support of Morocco's water, power and sanitation utilities was held in Rabat on 9 and 10 November 2005. It was organised jointly by the European Investment Bank (EIB) and InWEnt (Internationale Weiterbildung und Entwicklung gGmbH), a German development cooperation agency specialising in training, in close collaboration with the Moroccan Ministry of the Interior (Department of Utilities and Services under Concession).

This seminar represented the first stage of a training programme focussing specifically on the utilities' management and organisation. It was aimed at interactively identifying needs with a view to targeting the future training as effectively as possible. Three pilot utilities will also be analysed in greater depth to this end.

Designed to enhance the sector's governance, this training programme is being financed by the technical assistance funds of the Facility for Euro-Mediterranean Investment and Partnership and German development cooperation funds.

The first session of the programme was opened by Mr Mohamed KADRI, Director of the Ministry of Interior's Department of Utilities and Services under Concession, and Mr René PEREZ, the EIB's Representative in Morocco.

During the seminar Mr Perez underlined the importance of the EIB's activity in the Moroccan water sector (with commitments of around EUR 465 million since the beginning of the 1990s for financing investment totalling more than EUR 1 billion). The share of this financing devoted to sanitation, a priority objective of the EIB's environmental action, amounts to EUR 185 million, with such loans also carrying interest subsidies from European Union (EU) budgetary resources.

As part of its environmental policy, the EIB has focussed its lending strategy in Morocco on medium-sized cities in which the wastewater treatment service is managed by autonomous municipal establishments (utilities). Through these utilities, the EIB, sometimes in cooperation with other lenders, has provided support for sanitation projects in the towns of Agadir, Marrakesh, Settat, Meknès, Oujda, Fez, Beni Mellal and Safi; and it intends to continue this activity in other medium-sized cities in liaison with the responsible ministries. It is therefore quite natural for the Bank also to take an interest in optimising the organisational aspects of the utilities and to wish to concentrate on improving their performance.