Flanders gets down to business in Morocco
The Antwerp-based Conix Architects has won a contract to build an entire city in the north of Morocco. The bureau, led by Christine Conix, will transform the dormitory town of Nador into a new economic and tourism centre, with a special eye to sustainability, Conix said.
An Antwerp architect signs on to design a new city, while 45 Flemish businesses make contacts
The master plan, approved by the Moroccan king Mohammad VI, involves the construction of infrastructure, including housing, schools and hospitals. “This is the biggest project we’ve ever been involved in,” said Conix, whose company supervised the renovation of the Atomium and the design of the Belgian pavilion at the World Expo in Shanghai.
The contract was announced during an official visit by Flemish minister-president Kris Peeters, heading a delegation of 45 business representatives on a four-day mission to Casablanca and Tangiers. Morocco is one of the two countries on the continent (the other being South Africa) singled out by Flanders Investment & Trade as the focus of intensive trade efforts.
Morocco benefits from a European regulation that allows its goods to enter the EU tariff-free, and in recent years the economy there has grown by an average of about 5% a year.
The main attractions of Morocco for Flemish businesses lie in logistics and construction, where several companies are already working, as well as food and renewable energy; 25 of the companies on the mission were representing those sectors. Dredging group Deme and Betafence were present in Tangier to visit the new harbour, which they helped construct between 2003 and 2007.
Peeters also held talks with Moroccan prime minister Abdelilah Benkirane and foreign minister Saad-Eddine El Othmani about the country’s planned regionalisation, a subject in which his government has some experience. “They showed a great interest, and of course there’s concern as to how best to approach the question,” Peeters said.
Other companies were able to announce successful trade relations during the visit:
• CGH Group from Bornem and Lokeren opened a new factory in Morocco for the production of double-walled petrol storage tanks. The factory will also produce LPG tanks in the future, for export to other African countries.
• Excellent Breeding from Drongen made several sales from its stable of top-class show-jumping mares, to owners, breeders and investors.
• Environmental technology company Waterleau from Herent opened a wastewater treatment centre in Bouskoura, a new satellite town just outside of Casablanca. Waterleau will maintain and operate the station for 10 years. The contract was worth €8 million.