During his official visit to Morocco, EIB Vice-President Román Escolano, responsible for the Bank’s activities in the Maghreb, signed two large-scale financing operations totalling EUR 150m to support the private and higher education sectors in Morocco.
The first loan for EUR 35m was signed on Thursday 6 July 2017 with the Diana Holding company and the second for EUR 70m on Friday 7 July 2017 with the Euro-Mediterranean University of Fes. These two new operations bring the total amount of projects financed by the Bank in Morocco between 2007 and 2017 to EUR 3.8bn. This major commitment by the EIB is geared towards supporting key sectors of the Moroccan economy, such as transport, the energy transition, education and training of young people, water and sanitation and the promotion of SMEs and micro-enterprises.
“These loans are of symbolic importance and the first for the EIB in highly strategic sectors in Morocco: the private sector with the agro-processing industry and the training of young people at a higher education institution of excellence: the Euro-Mediterranean University of Fes,” stated EIB Vice-President Román Escolano during his visit. “They reflect the significant role that the EIB has to play in the Mediterranean region, in particular via the Economic Resilience Initiative aimed at stimulating growth and employment, assisting the development of businesses to improve competitiveness on an international scale and supporting the construction of training infrastructure at the heart of this region to increase the chances of a successful future for young people,” he added.
First direct loan to an entirely privately owned group
Convinced that businesses are a true driver of growth and employment, the EIB has decided to provide EUR 35m of financing to the Diana Holding company to boost its development and competitiveness both in Africa and on an international level.
This first EIB operation in the Moroccan agro-processing industry will enable the holding company to modernise its production and distribution methods and increase its soft drinks bottling capacity. It will also make a crucial contribution to the construction of a packaging and distribution facility for agricultural products.
With the direct and indirect creation of more than 700 new jobs, this project is fully consistent with the Economic Resilience Initiative. The implementation of this new initiative will help the Bank to step up its activities in Morocco and in a number of neighbouring countries in the South and the Western Balkans with further financing to support growth and job creation. The objective is to deliver up to EUR 15bn of additional investment in all of the countries concerned.
A university of excellence: the Fes eco-campus
The purpose of the EIB loan for the Fes eco-campus is to support a premier university project welcomed by Vice-President Román Escolano: “The EIB is particularly proud to be financing this project of excellence, which will host more than 6 000 students of several nationalities from the Euro-Mediterranean regions and sub-Saharan Africa. It is expected that 80% of the students will have the opportunity of studying abroad with a view to obtaining a double degree recognised in Europe. This is a flagship project for the Union for the Mediterranean which will help to strengthen integration and regional stability through inter-cultural dialogue and cooperation in the areas of higher education, research and innovation."
This new university campus developed in partnership with several higher education and research institutions in the Mediterranean region will offer training in line with European standards and qualifications that are officially recognised in Europe. Cutting-edge research activities and specific programmes meeting the socio-economic requirements for youth employment on national and regional level and across the Euro-Mediterranean area will therefore be developed. Scholarships will also be granted to deserving students from low-income families.
In line with the COP22 objectives, special attention will be paid to environmental protection and the energy efficiency of the buildings, in particular via the installation of solar panels that will partially cover the site’s power requirements.
In addition to the EUR 70m loan from the EIB, the European Union will also provide financial support in the form of an investment subsidy of more than EUR 13m, which has recently been approved under the Neighbourhood Investment Facility.